A Provencal recipe from France the Beautiful Cookbook: Authentic Recipes from the Regions of France. This is a large format hard-cover book, part of a series ("The Beautiful Cookbook") from Harper Collins. This title was originally published first in 1989. I got my copy at Costco a couple of months ago for the remaindered price of $9.99. Great bargain.
Recipes – the Scotto sisters
• 8oz (250g) wild mushrooms
• 1 tablespoon butter
• 2oz (50g) lean smoked bacon, finely chopped
• 1 heart of fennel, about 3oz (100g), chopped
• 4 tablespoons chopped parsley and fresh chervil, mixed
• 2 pinches dried thyme
• Salt and freshly ground pepper
• 3 pinches of freshly grated nutmeg
• 1 oz (25g) white sandwich bread, crusts trimmed
• 1 clove garlic
• 1 leg of lamb, about 3lb 10oz (1.8kg), trimmed and boned
• 1 teaspoon peanut oil
For the potatoes
• 3 ½ lb (1.7kg) boiling potatoes
• 3oz (80g ) butter
• ½ teaspoon dried thyme
• 1 clove garlic
• Trim the mushroom stems. Wash the mushrooms quickly under cold water and pat dry; chop. Melt 1 tablespoon butter in a non-stick sauté pan and lightly brown the bacon for 2 minutes, stirring with a wooden spoon. Add the fennel, cover and cook for 2 minutes longer. Add the mushrooms, the parsley mixture, thyme, salt, pepper and nutmeg and cook, half covered, until the fennel is very tender and all the liquid has evaporated.
• Grind the bread to coarse crumbs in a food processor. Remove the sauté pan from heat. Mix in the crumbs and the crushed garlic.
• Stuff the leg of lamb with this mixture and sew the opening with kitchen thread. Coat the lamb with oil and season with salt and pepper. Make very shallow crisscross cuts over the surface of the leg. Preheat oven to 450F (230C). Peel the potatoes, rinse and pat dry. Slice into very thin rounds. Melt the butter in a 13 x 9-in (32 x 22-cm) baking dish. Add the thyme and the garlic, crushed in a garlic press. Toss the potatoes in this flavored butter to coat well. Spread the slices in the pan and smooth the surface.
• Place the leg of lamb on the bed of potatoes, rounded side down. Roast for 30 minutes. Turn the lamb and potato slices over and roast 25 minutes longer. Turn off the oven and let the lamb rest in the oven for 10 minutes before serving.
• Peanut oil? Not in our household. One of our children has a severe allergy to legumes, so we’ve never had peanut oil in the house. I used olive oil instead.
• Wild mushrooms? I don’t think so – used Cremini mushrooms instead.
• No fresh chervil here in Canada in mid-December. I used fresh tarragon instead – recommended as a substitute.
• The cooking time was a bit short for the leg I had – a bit over 4 pounds. I added 15 minutes. Perhaps it has something to do with my source of heat – electricity, not gas. Next time, if I lengthen the cooking time, I would remove the potatoes first.
• This was the first time I’ve cooked a leg of lamb – preparation took longer than most recipes I use.
• The sewing bit was a 2-person operation.
• Great aroma in the pan; stuffing was a major plus; the meat was very good.
• I cooked this dish last weekend mainly because our son-in-law likes lamb. He's from Scotland. I think they eat anything over there. Yesterday I drove to Kingston, 60 miles away, with my daughter and grandson, to pick up some Indian food at a restaurant to be reheated for dinner this evening - Christmas Eve. Strange people the Scots.
• I’ll use the recipe again when somebody expresses a desire for lamb.
• I have begun to amass a collection of, mainly French, cookbooks. I try to prepare a new recipe from one or another book about once a week. Figure I should run out of recipes in about 20 years. I'll keep you posted.