Leg of lamb Provençal style




Roasted leg of lamb, gigot provençal, is a classic Easter dish in the South of France. The legs of lamb with bone used to weigh about 2- 2,5 kg, enough for six people at least, but our supermarket in Nice now sells also smaller legs weighing about 1,3- 1,6 kg.

In Provence, the lamb is cooked rosé, medium to medium rare. Before roasting it is rubbed with olive oil and flavoured with garlic, black pepper and bouquet garni, which is usually a bunch of thyme sprigs and bay leaves. I have found that roasting in 190⁰ C and 20 minutes per 500 grams works best if you also want to bake a vegetable gratin at the same time. After removing the leg from oven keep tented with foil for 20- 30 minutes before carving.

In Provence, the gigot is typically served with a vegetable gratin, tian.The following simple potato- tomato gratin is perfect in early spring. Later on, the vegetables could be more varied; courgettes, eggplants, bell peppers and so on as they come into season. Gratins made with potatoes need a bit longer baking time, so if your leg of lamb is small you can start with the gratin.

For a small leg of lamb, 3-4 servings

A leg of lamb, about 1,3 kg
2 cloves garlic
About 2 tbsp olive oil
1 bouquet garni made of several sprigs of fresh thyme and fresh bay leaves
Freshly ground black pepper

For a small potato-tomato gratin, 3- 4 servings

3 medium potatoes, thinly sliced
3 tomatoes, sliced
2 fresh bay leaves
Fresh thyme leaves
Freshly ground black pepper
About 500 ml vegetable stock
Olive oil

Preheat the oven to 190⁰ C.

Take the leg of lamb out of the fridge so that it can reach the room temperature before roasting. Start preparing the potato- tomato gratin. Oil well a medium sized oven-proof dish, tian. Slice the potatoes and tomatoes and place them in layers in the gratin dish. Place the bay leaves and scatter the thyme leaves on the middle layers. Finish off with a layer of tomato slices, grind over black pepper and sprinkle with 1 tbsp olive oil. Place in the oven for about 20 minutes while you make the vegetable stock and prepare the lamb.

Peel and slice 2 cloves of garlic. Make small deep cuts into the lamb and insert the garlic slices. Rub the lamb with olive oil and grind over a few rounds of black pepper. Place the lamb in a roasting dish and arrange the sprigs of thyme and bay leaves on both sides. Place the roasting dish in oven and roast for 55 minutes for a leg of about 1,3 kg.

Remove the vegetable gratin from oven and pour in vegetable stock so that the vegetables are almost covered. Continue baking for about 1 hour. Cover with foil towards the end of the baking, if needed.

When the lamb is roasted, remove it from oven and place on a carving board. Tent it with foil and let rest for 20- 30 minutes before carving.

Meanwhile prepare the sauce. Discard the sprigs of herbs from the roasting dish and pour in 100 ml white wine. Scrape up all the bits from the bottom and pour the liquid in a small saucepan. Bring to the boil, and then reduce the heat to low and simmer for about 10 minutes until thickened.

Carve the lamb and serve with the potato- tomato gratin and the sauce.

If you have leftovers from the lamb, they are great next day in a vegetable gratin topped with potato pure; this is called parmentier in French. They can also be added in a vegetable soup.

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