Lamb Pot Roast, French Style

Lamb Shank and Lamb Rack

By Cat, June 2010 (Photo, right, from Wikimedia Commons)

The French are famous for their delicious slow-cook recipes such as pot roast. Slow-cooking usually involves providing moisture, similar to a braise. I include two versions that mainly differ by oven temperature here.

  • Lamb Pot Roast, French Style is cooked entirely in the the oven at 325°F, but I prefer a slower roast at 300°F, with the roast set on top of the veggies and liquids. Its sauce is then cooked on stove-top. This is divine!
  • Slow-Roast Leg of Lamb, French Style is seared, then briefly cooked with veggies, liquids and thyme on stove-top, roasted in a slow oven (250°F); the sauce is then cooked on stove-top. I’ve not tested this version.

The liquids for both recipes include a veggie broth or meat stock; white wine (I use dry Vermouth); and a liqueur: Madeira (a fortified Portuguese wine), Armagnac (a type of brandy), or regular brandy, which add a floral flavor to the sauce and meat.

See also: 1. Lamb, Pork, Small Game Menu2. Middle-Eastern Menu3. Mediterranean Menu; 4. Lamb (About); 5. Lamb Roast (About)

Lamb Pot Roast, French Style #1

I’ve adapted this version from RecipeTinEats (3); it does not sear the roast prior to roasting (but does a version of reverse-sear after roasting). The roast is placed on top of the veggies (to keep the meat elevated from the pan juices, and to flavor the meat and juices) rather than arranging the veggies around the seared roast. It is cooked entirely in the oven (though the sauce is cooked on stove-top). I like the idea of using brandy in the juices so include that option.

The most healthful version is to use a bone-in leg of lam because the bones provide gelatin for the sauce; one disadvantage is that it takes far longer to roast. I prefer to use a boneless leg of lamb that is rolled and tied, as it is far easier to cut and takes less time to cook; plus, if you use a bone stock (chicken or beef), you will get gelatin from the stock.

I recommend Potato Dauphinoise (Potatoes Au Gratin) to accompany the roast; but another alternative is to include yellow Finn potatoes and/or turnips in the veggie mix (designated “optional” in recipe). I recommend including the carrots in either case.

This recipe uses rosemary; alternately you could use thyme (as in Suite101 recipe, below), or tarragon, but I’ve not yet tried those options. See “Testing” below.

It really is easy, and not a whole lot of prep.

Ingredients & Equipment:

  • 5 – 6 lb bone-in leg of lamb (or 3 – 4 lb boneless, rolled & tied)
  • Unrefined sea salt and freshly grated black pepper
  • 6 – 16 cloves of garlic; cut large ones in half
  • 1 – 2 small onions, cut in half, crosswise; or 1 large onion, cut into quarters or eighths
  • Optional:
    • 1 – 2 carrots/serving, cut crosswise into ½-inch segments
    • 1 -2 small yellow Finn potatoes or turnips/serving, cut into ½ – ¾″ thick wedges
  • 4 – 8 sprigs of fresh or dried rosemary (depending on how many leaves per sprig)
  • ¾ cup veggie broth, or chicken or beef stock (I prefer mix of beef and veggie)
  • ¼ – ½ cup white wine, such as vermouth
  • 2 Tbsp Madeira, Armagnac or brandy
  • olive oil
  • few sprigs rosemary as garnish
  • Sauce:
  • flour; generally, for each cup of liquid to be thickened, use 1 Tbsp of flour (or equivalent amount of starch)
  • pan liquids
  • ¼ cup white wine, such as vermouth
  • up to 1 cup filtered water for desired texture
  • Equipment
  • Oven-proof French or Dutch Oven that can also be used on stove-to (to make the sauce); OR large roasting pan; if it doesn’t have a lid, use parchment and aluminum foil.

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 300°F or 325°F. However, 325°F is not really a slow-roast temperature.
  2. Prep veggies: slice heads of garlic in half, cross-wise; cut small onions in half, or larger onions into quarters. If using carrots, cut crosswise into 1-inch segments. Wash sprigs of rosemary. Place all onto bottom of French/Dutch oven.
  3. Season lamb with salt and pepper, and set on top of veggies.
  4. Add broth/stock, white wine and brandy. Drizzle a bit of olive oil over the lamb.
  5. Cover with lid (or if using a lid-less roasting pan, cover with parchment held in place with aluminum foil on top). Place in preheated oven.
  6. Roast: If:
    1. Bone-in: roast 4½ hours if at 325°F, or longer if at 300°F, until if falls apart (if you cook it to medium rare or medium, it is too hard to slice a bone-in roast).
    2. Boneless, rolled and tied: roast until meat reaches 135°-140°F (medium rare) or 140°-145°F (medium). I like medium-rare, so roasted my 1.5 lb leg-of-lamb for 75 minutes  (see testing, below). It would take longer for a 3-4 lb leg-of-lamb. Or you can roast it until it falls apart, but that is not my preference.
  7. Reverse-sear (optional): Raise heat to 325°F; remove lid and roast a bit longer, to get a beautiful brown crust. However, you need to cook it more than for medium-rare (before doing reverse-sear) for it to brown.
  8. Remove from oven; transfer meat and veggies to a platter and cover to keep warm,
  9. Sauce: Add flour to pan and mix with drippings. Mix together water and vermouth, then whisk into pan to desired thickness. See my post: Thickening sauces using flour or starch and Conversions between Starches & Other Thickeners for more detail.
  10. Taste, and adjust seasoning.
  11. Serve: Garnish platter with sprigs of fresh rosemary, and serve. Accompany with Potato Dauphinoise and braised greens or other vegetable.

Testing Recipe #1:

9/18/19: Preheated oven to 300°F. Used enameled cast-iron French oven for about 1.8 lb de-boned leg of lamb lb. Seasoned well all over (including the all-fat back-side) with unrefined sea salt and ground black pepper. Used: 4 large cloves garlic, cut in half, and 6 smaller cloves; 1 large onion cut in half, then each half cut into 3 wedges; 2-each  7-8-inch long carrots cut into half-inch segments, and 4 ea, 3-4-inch long sprigs of rosemary, plus a few leaves that fell off. Drizzled 2 tsp olive oil over meat. Added ¼-cup vermouth, ½-cup homemade beef stock and 2 Tbsp brandy. Covered with lid and placed in oven at 5:30 PM; checked temp at 6 PM but only 110°F. Check again at 6:30 PM: 130F; at 6:45: 136°F – Medium rare. Decided not to do the reverse sear because the meat would be medium. Removed meat and veggies from pan to a platter; transferred liquids to my small cast iron skillet because it would be easier to use my gravy-whisk. Combined 1½ Tbsp white flour with ⅓ cup beef stock; shook well, then whisked into pan liquids; adjusted seasoning. Result: Delicious sauce; the brandy and rosemary are the key to the lightly floral flavor! Veggies are perfectly done and taste divine with the sauce on them (but I wish I’d made more; I updated recipe accordingly).  The lamb, well, what can I say but “divine;” tender, medium rare and just a hint of the flavor from the veggies and sauce. This is a keeper.

Slow-Roast Leg of Lamb, French Style #2

I’ve adapted this recipe from Suite101.com (1). I’ve not yet tested it because I like the above version so much. I’m keeping it here for reference, because the Suite101.com recipe is no longer available.

Cooking times in oven are for a bone-in roast. You can use a boneless roast, but it will not generate the healthful gelatin-rich sauce. I provide several options for the broth/stock, but my preference is beef stock diluted with some vegetable broth. If using a bone-in roast, you can use less stock and more veggie broth since the roast’s bones enhance the liquids with nutrients from the bone marrow.

This uses a fairly slow oven at only 250°F and a long (7-hour) cooking time; you can increase that to 275°F to reduce the cooking time if you wish, but the slower the oven, the more tender and flavorful the end result. (Although I note that an Epicurious recipe (2) indicates slow-roasting turns lamb to mush…)

The original recipe recommends serving this with Potato Dauphinoise (Potatoes Au Gratin); I make mine with half turnips and half potato.

Ingredients & Equipment:

  • 5 – 6 lb bone-in leg of lamb (or 3 – 4 lb boneless, rolled & tied)
  • Unrefined sea salt and freshly grated black pepper
  • 4 onions, sliced
  • 8 cloves garlic
  • 4 large carrots
  • pinch dried crushed thyme, or leaves from a sprig of fresh thyme
  • 1 cup white wine, such as vermouth
  • 1 cup veggie broth, or chicken or beef stock
  • 2 Tbsp Madeira, Armagnac or brandy
  • few sprigs fresh thyme or rosemary as garnish
  • Equipment
  • Very large stove-top and oven-proof French or Dutch Oven; or large roasting pan
  • Saucier or sauce pan

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 250°F, or 275-300°F for less cooking time.
  2. Prep veggies: slice onion, peel garlic but leave cloves whole; quarter carrot lengthwise.
  3. Season lamb with salt and pepper.
  4. Sear: Brown on all sides in French/Dutch oven or roasting pan on top of the stove, adding a little olive oil if the meat sticks. This may get a bit smokey, so turn on your kitchen fan.
  5. Remove from heat and drain off part of the fat, if desired.
  6. Veggies & broth/stock:
  7. Arrange veggies around the roast; sprinkle with thyme
  8. Add white wine and broth/stock. Return to heat and bring to a boil.
  9. Remove from heat; cover with lid or foil and transfer to pre-heated oven.
  10. Roast until meat reaches 135°-140°F (medium rare) or 140°-145°F (medium). If:
    1. Bone-in: roast 7 hours (at 250°F, less if at 300°F), turning twice during this time. After 5 hours, the meat will be falling off the bone.
    2. Boneless, rolled and tied: Uncertain how long to roast, but start testing after 45 minutes; will update after testing
  11. Transfer meat (minus bone) and veggies to saucier (for stove-top). Bring to boil and continue to boil vigorously until liquids are reduced by ¼. Reduce heat to medium low, adjust seasoning and add Madeira or Armagnac; cook a few minutes longer, to blend flavors. If you want a thicker sauce, mash some of the onion and stir into the reduced sauce. Pour into bowl for serving.
  12. Serve: Garnish platter with sprigs of thyme, and serve. Accompany with Potato Dauphinoise and braised greens or other vegetable.

References:

  1. Suite101.com recipe (suite101.com/content/french-style-lamb-a34739 (note: Suite101.com is no longer online)
  2. Epicurious (epicurious.com/recipes/member/views/ROAST-BONELESS-LEG-OF-LAMB-WITH-HERB-AND-BREAD-CRUMB-CRUST-1218956)
  3. RecipeTinEats (recipetineats.com/slow-roast-leg-of-lamb/)

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