NOT MY MOM’S LEG OF LAMB
My mom was a great family cook. According to Richard, she made the best stuffed pork chops in the world (she did!)… but, the meal I loved the most growing up was Sunday ‘after church dinner’ leg of lamb.
She would rub the roast w/ salt and flour, surround it with peeled Idaho potatoes and white onions and stick it in a very hot oven (450 degrees) for 20 minutes, then turn it down to 350 and roast till done, which for her was well-done – very well done. She usually made gravy, but I preferred the caramelized pan juices on my lamb slices and on my potatoes which were always crunchy on the outside and nice and mushy on the inside. The veggie was usually peas. My mom loved peas w/ lamb. And, of course, mint jelly. “You can’t have lamb w/o mint jelly” was her mantra.
I make leg of lamb the way my mom did… though Richard and I prefer it pink. And that’s what I planned to do when he found a nice size roast on sale (enough for a roast dinner, plus leftovers of lamb stew and lamb hash or whatever else he can come up with – 3 meals at least…hearty and very, very, economical). But, nooooooooooooo. Richard’s still in a ‘Julia frame of mind’ and he found a lamb recipe that he wanted to try.
So last night I set the table, lighted the candles, made a fresh lettuce centerpiece (you don’t need to spend money on flowers if there’s produce in the house)… then we dined on Julia’s Gigot a la Moutarde w/ Sauce Speciale a l’Ail pour Gigot. Translation: Leg of lamb coated w/ herbal mustard, and garlic sauce (gravy), and “Richard’s” roasted potatoes and roasted brussels sprouts. Julia’s leg of lamb w/ sauce wasn’t my mother’s lamb w/ gravy, but it was damn good.
Gigot a la Moutarde
(Herbal Mustard Coating for Roast Lamb)
6-lb leg of lamb (ours was 5 lbs)
½ cup Dijon-type prepared mustard
2 Tablespoons soy sauce
1 clove mashed garlic
1 teaspoon ground rosemary or thyme
¼ teaspoon powdered ginger
2 Tablespoon olive oil
Blend the mustard, soy sauce, garlic, herbs, and ginger together in a bowl.
Beat in the olive oil by droplets to make a mayonnaise-like cream.
Paint the lamb with the mixture using a rubber spatula or brush... and set it on the rack of the roasting pan. The meat will pick up more flavor if it’s coated several hours before roasting.
Roast in a 350 degree oven, 1 to 1-1/4 hours for medium rare; or 1-1/4 to 1-1/2 hours for well done. (This really depends on the oven. Richard roasted it for a half-hour longer than recommended and it came out a perfect medium rare). Do not sear first.
Sauce Speciale a l’Ail pour Gigot
(Garlic Sauce for Roast Lamb)
(This sauces used a whole head of garlic which, after two blanchings and a long simmering, becomes tamed and develops a delicious flavor.)
For 1-1/2 to 2 cups of sauce
1 large head of garlic
A saucepan containing 1 quart of cold water
A 1-quart heavy-bottomed saucepan
3/4 cup milk, more if needed
1/8 teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon rosemary or thyme
1-1/2 Tablespoons raw white rice (we didn’t have any so Richard used brown rice)
1 cup brown lamb stock, beef stock, or canned beef bouillon
A sieve, a bowl, and a wooden spoon, or a blender
Salt & pepper
A hot gravy boat
Separate the garlic cloves. Bring them to the boil in the sauce pan and boil 30 seconds. Drain and peel. Set again in cold water, bring to the boil, and drain.
In the saucepan bring the milk, salt, herbs, and rice to a simmer. Add the garlic, and simmer very slowly for 45 minutes, putting in more milk by spoonfuls if the rice is in danger of scorching.
Note: this sauce takes 45 minutes – something Richard forgot and started it late. Thankfully, the lamb needed to stay in the oven a bit longer, so both were done at the same time.
Pour in the stock or bouillon and simmer 1 minute. Then force through a sieve, or puree in the blender.
Correct seasoning. If done before the lamb, set aside and reheat when needed. Then pour into a hot gravy boat.
PS - Later this week, leftover lamb stew.