Slow and steady, soft and succulent
This traditional French way of dealing with mutton or tough lamb is increasingly finding its way into the urban bistros and homes of today, cheered on by a generation reared on fast grills and snappy salads. After two hours, the most wonderful smell starts to waft out of the kitchen. After seven hours, the meat will be so soft that the bone will literally fall out as you gently lift it from the pot. Just make sure that the leg of lamb you buy will fit into your heaviest lidded casserole.
Serve the lamb with its carrots, onions and garlic alongside a dish of white beans, puréed potatoes or Potato Gratin.
Prep: 20 min
Cook: 5 to 7 hours (5 hours if you have a younger lamb)
1 leg of mature lamb, about 2.5kg
2 whole heads of garlic
3 tbsp olive oil
Sea salt and pepper
3 medium onions, quartered
8 smallish carrots, peeled
Few sprigs thyme
250ml dry white wine
Handful of flatleaf parsley
Heat the oven to 120C. Coat the lamb with olive oil and season with sea salt and pepper. Place in a large, lidded, ovenproof casserole, and scatter with thyme. Add the wine and water, cover tightly, and bake for 4 hours, then remove the casserole carefully from the oven and skim the fat from the broth.
Cut the heads of garlic in half across the cloves. Place the garlic, onions and carrots in with the lamb, and bake for another 3 hours (for younger lamb, cook first for 2 hours, skim and add the vegetables, then cook for a further 3 hours). Gently remove the lamb, and transfer the vegetables to a warm platter.
Strain the juices and bring to the boil in a small pan, skimming. Carve the lamb thickly and serve on warm dinner plates with the vegetables, garlic, parsley and some of the broth.