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Slow-roast lamb with potato and fennel gratin

When my sister and her boyfriend were here last weekend, and despite the burst water main making life very difficult, I made a big effort for Saturday night dinner, which is traditionally the best meal of the week in my family.   It seemed to go down well – we all had thirds, and J went so far as to ask for the recipe. So rather than just writing some notes up to email her, I thought I’d post them here in case any one else is interested. (Carol and Mark – you’ll recognise this recipe, as this is a variant of the dinner I did for you when we tackled the garden. There’s only a limited number of dishes I’m confident enough to cook when I’ve got guests staying!)

7 hour slow-roast lamb. This is a variant on one of my standards, that I’ve written about before. This time, I bought a whole leg of lamb, as both J & P are confirmed carnivores, and got the butcher to bone it for me, then tie it back together into a neat parcel. I pre-heated the oven to 180ºC. I put a fairly large piece of tin-foil in my roasting tin, and put two cloves of crushed garlic in the bottom. I would have added some sprigs of fresh rosemary too, except that P isn’t too keen on rosemary. Then I put the lamb joint in the tin, seasoned it with salt and pepper, and laid another piece of foil on top. I scrunched the edges of the foil together loosely to make a not-quite-airtight seal. I roasted it at 180º for 30 minutes, then turned the oven down to 150º and left it for 6 hours, before turning the oven back up to 160ºC for the final 30 minutes. All in all I roasted it for 7 hours. When J came to carve it, it fell apart when the knife was waved in its general direction (we had to serve it with a spoon rather than in slices!), yet it was very moist and really tasty. I made a gravy with the lamb juices from the roasting tin and some wine. I haven’t got gravy sussed yet. Christopher used to make it look very easy, but mine always goes lumpy and I end up sieving it. But  it tasted ok which is what counts.

Potato and fennel gratin. I hate recipes which never give you quantities, but I’m afraid I’m going to do exactly that.  I do this dish quite often and I’ve never yet measured out the ingredients, but rather just guessed at how much looked “right”, and it’s always worked. The amount of potato, fennel and onion in the recipe here is for 3 people, but it scales down well for one. Preheat the oven to 180ºC. (Fortunately I have a double oven, or I wouldn’t have been able to do this at the same time as the lamb, which needed a lower temperature) Slice a medium sized fennel bulb thinly. Peel and slice a medium sized onion. Melt some butter with some oil in a pan, add the fennel and onion and stir well. Put a lid on and sauté gently for 15 minutes. The onion should be golden but not burnt, and the fennel should be nice and soft (and will taste less sharp). Meanwhile peel as many potatoes as you think you will need. I did two large ones for the three of us. Slice the potatoes as thinly as you can (I quartered them first as it makes the slicing easier). Put the sliced potatoes in a mixing bowl. Add “some” cream and give it a good stir. I don’t know how much cream I used – a few tablespoons probably. Enough to coat the potato slices generously but not sloppily. Add “some” grated gruyère cheese. I probably used about a small handful. Mix it all around. Then add the cooked fennel and onion and stir again. Season the mixture with salt, pepper and I like to add a good grating of nutmeg. Give it one final good stir, then spoon it into a greased baking dish / gratin dish. Roughly level off the top with the back of the spoon, add some more gruyère cheese on top, and dribble on a bit more cream. Cover with tin foil and bake at 180ºC for one hour. Then remove the foil, turn the oven up to 200ºC and give it another 30 minutes for the top to crisp up and go all golden.

{ 1 } Comments

  1. J | 15 July 2012 at 9:59 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for the recipes – the dinner was delicious!