Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Braised Leg of Lamb

Being that it is currently snowing outside, I figured I'd post something perfect for a snowy day: something that cooks for a long time (oven on = heated kitchen!), but doesn't require a lot of effort.

I served this dish for the first time this Christmas Eve, and it comfortably served six. However, since my dutch oven would not hold a full leg of lamb, I purchased two half legs, which had been partially boned. The recipe will work for a full leg, and I would recommend not using a fully boned piece of meat, as the meat is so tender that boned lamb will probably fall apart when you try to move it to a platter for service. Do note that cooking time will vary, depending on how much meat you have, and how thick it is.

Also, when choosing a pot, make sure that the meat fits in comfortably, but without too much extra space, or else you'll be reducing your cooking liquid for hours.

  • 1 bone-in leg of lamb, approx. 5 lbs, or two half-legs, approx. 2.5 lbs each
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 onions, frenched
  • 2 ribs celery, chopped
  • 3 large carrots, chopped, or 1 1/2 cups baby carrots
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 2 Tbsp tomato paste
  • Beef stock (amount will depend on size of meat and size of pot)
  • Chicken stock (amount will depend on size of meat and size of pot)
  • Red wine (amount will depend on size of meat and size of pot)
  • 1/4 cup chopped rosemary, leaves only
  • 15 stems thyme
  • Salt
  • Pepper

  1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Pat meat dry with paper towel, and let it come to room temperature.
  2. Place oven-safe covered pot (I use an enameled cast-iron Dutch Oven from Le Creuset, but places like World Market have versions available for around $50.00) on the stove top. Add butter and olive oil, and turn stove top to medium heat.
  3. Salt and pepper the outside of your lamb. Once the butter and oil have melted and begun to bubble, place your lamb in the pot and brown on all sides, turning to make sure all sides get browned and caramelized. Note: This is not to cook the lamb through, just to brown the outside.
  4. Once browned, remove lamb from pot and place under foil to rest. Add onions, carrots, and celery to pot and saute to soften, 5 minutes. Add garlic and saute and additional 2 minutes.
  5. Add approx. 2 cups of red wine to pot and stir to deglaze. Add tomato paste and stir to dissolve. Add rosemary and thyme.
  6. Remove pot from heat. Place lamb in pot, sitting on the vegetables. Add equal parts red wine, beef stock, and chicken stock until lamb is almost completely submerged.
  7. Cover with tight-fitting lid and place the pot in the oven. Cook, covered, for 2.5-3 hours, or until the lamb pulls apart easily.
  8. Using tongs, remove lamb and place on service platter. Tent with foil. Remove as many of the vegetables as possible with a slotted spoon. Vegetables can either be discarded or served, depending on your taste. Remove thyme stems.
  9. Place pot back on stove top, and turn heat to high. Reduce braising liquid by half. Pour over lamb. Serve hot and enjoy.

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