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Slow Roasted Lamb Help!

post #1 of 16
Thread Starter 
I am attempting to make a slow roasted leg of lamb tomorrow. I know that I'm supposed to come equipped with the "lamb gene" simply because I'm greek but I don't cook it often enough to be there yet. Please help me achieve what I am looking for.

The lamb is 2.33 lbs boneless leg of lamb. I've got it marinading in the fridge with lots of crushed garlic, lemon, olive oil, and I've made slits and stuffed it with garlic. It will stay in there until tomorrow.

I don't want it to be medium. I want it to be sort of like a braise but the outside should be golden and crispy but the meat itself to almost fall apart. How do I achieve this? I'm thinking about placing it in a deep roasting pan along with celery, carrots, and onions and a little red or white wine? Roasting it at 450 until it's golden crispy on the outside and then covering it and lowering the heat to 325 and letting it slowly braise for maybe 3 hours? Or more? What do you think?

"You are what you eat, so don't be fast, cheap, easy, or fake."

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"You are what you eat, so don't be fast, cheap, easy, or fake."

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post #2 of 16
I think your nuts is what I think. You wouldn't be at all happy with the results of a 450F oven sear followed by braise at 325F. Think Kevlar.

Fortunately, no wheel requires invention. It's a traditional dish all around the Med; and is called gigot a la culliere (means spoon lamb) or gigot de sept heures (cooked for seven hours) in French. It's one of the things every good cook should learn -- and no one's born knowing it.

The recipe I'll give you is for a larger, bone-in leg. Not to worry, I'll give you some notes -- since you've already started in your own way.


GIGOT DE SEPT HEURES
(Serves 6)


Ingredients

4 onions
4 to 8 carrots, depending on size
1 leg of lamb, bone in, about 5 - 6 pounds.
4 tbs extra virgin olive oil, divided
1-1/4 cup white wine
1-1/4 cup beef, chicken or mixed stock
8 cloves of garlic
1 or 2 bay leaves
bouquet garni (handful of parsley leaves and stems, couple of thyme stems)
2 tbs (Greek) brandy

Technique
Slice the onion, not too thin. Depending on carrot size, leave then whole, cut in half or quarters. Peel the garlic cloves, but leave them whole.

Preheat the oven to 225F (NOT 325!!). Preheat a heavy casserole on top of the stove. When the casserole is hot, add 2 tbs olive oil. Brown the lamb on all sides in the hot oil -- about 10 minutes in all. Remove the lamb from the pot, and set aside. Pour off the fat and oil from the casserole.

Add the remaining oil oil and return the pan to the stove. When the oil is hot enough, saute the onions and carrots. When the onions are translucent, push the carrots and onions to one side and add the tomato paste to the bottom of the pan. Allow it to brown briefly, then push the vegetables through the past. Cook a little while longer until the paste begins to darken.

Deglaze the pan with the stock and wine. Add the garlic, the bay leaves, the bouquet garni, and return the roast to the casserole. Bring the stock to the simmer, remove from the heat, cover and place in the oven.

Turn once after two hours, and again after four.

Cook for five hours and check for tenderness. Lamb is done when tender enough to eat with a spoon (five to seven hours).

Remove the lamb from the pot very carefully, it's fragile, place on a warmed serving platter. Strain the stock, arrange the vegetables with the lamb, and discard the bouquet garni, the garlic and the bay leaves.

Defat the stock as best you can. Return the stock to the heat, add the brandy. Bring it to a fast boil and reduce by about 1/3. Taste and adjust for salt and pepper. Sieve and serve alongside the lamb. Garnish the lamb with sprigs of thyme and rosemary. Serve with a spoon, a la culliere, as the French say.

NOTE: You need to cut all the ingredients by about 1/3 to 1/2, and cut cooking time too. Don't worry too much if your ratios are inexact. It doesn't matter at all with this. I'm not sure about how many cloves of garlic you'll want for the braise -- since you've already got so much in the lamb. But heck, you're Greek. Four more sounds right.

Start by wiping the marinade off your lamb and letting it temper for about 20 minutes before browning. If you don't have a casserole, use your roasting pan and cover it very tightly with foil for its time in the oven. I'm guessing your lamb will be done after about 4 hours but allow five. If it's done too early, hold it in the casserole in the oven with the door closed and the fire off before the straining and defatting. Allow about 15 minutes for the whole strain/reduction thing. The reduction will go quickly in a pan with so much surface area.

Yasou!
BDL
post #3 of 16
Just my opinion, but, I'm wondering why you want to ruin a wonderful lamb roast by making it well done? :look:
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post #4 of 16
With all due respect, BDL is giving you a recipe for a braise that will be extremely soft throughout, and not at all crusted. It's a fine recipe (wherever he copied it from [he really needs to cite the source], although I would hope that the original spells à la cuillère correctly), but it is not what you are asking for. I do agree with him, though, that it is difficult to get falling-off-the-bone meat AND a crust. The way to get both is to braise to that soft state by whatever your favorite braising method is, and then to put the whole thing under a very hot broiler, turning it often to get a crust.

However, there is already a method that will give you a delicious crust and tender rare meat: When I first made a slow-roasted leg of lamb according to Paula Wolfert's recipe in The Slow Mediterranean Kitchen, I was skeptical. She calls for a 5 to 6 pound leg (bone in), marinated (her marinade is different, but that doesn't matter here). She says to bring the meat to room temperature over several hours, and preheat the oven to 450ºF. Put the roast in the oven and immediately lower the heat to 250ºF. Roast, basting and turning, until the meat reaches 130º to 135ºF -- since her roast is twice as big as yours, it will take less than the 2 1/4 hours she gives. Let it rest on a cutting board, loosely covered with foil, for 15 to 20 minutes, until the temperature rises to 135º to 140ºF for rare.

As I said, I questioned whether this would work. Wow! It sure did. I got a beautifully browned outside and tender, rare meat inside. Absolutely wonderful. If what you want is a crust and rare meat, try this.

Otherwise, braise the whole leg until done to your preferred temperature, and then broil it to get a crust.
"Notorious stickler" -- The New York Times, January 4, 2004
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"Notorious stickler" -- The New York Times, January 4, 2004
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post #5 of 16
Suzanne,

What grounds do you have to accuse me of copying someone's recipe without attribution? The recipe is original with me. Your accusation is insulting. Please apologize.

Furthermore, you're wrong about the crust. Gigot de sept heures does develop one because it's cooked for so long while more than half out of the liquid.

Thank you for the spelling correction. Cuillère. I'll be sure to make a note of it.

BDL

PS. You may see that I've been doing this for some time, as well as some of the evolution in my thinking (from 250F to 225F) if you look back to a thread from a year ago: http://www.cheftalk.com/forums/recip...r-recipes.html You may also note that my spelling has deteriorated.

PPS. I still can't believe that you accused me of copying without any evidence. "Notorious stickler," my Aunt Sally.
post #6 of 16
it seems such a shame to braise such a thing of beauty , if it were me (and this is just a suggestion) i would slow roast it with a little water in the pan for about 3-4 hours on about 150 c i think thats about 300 F then increase the heat by 50 degrees and finish it off with the lid off so it goes nice and brown and crispy and gorgous. If you want it a bit pink then just reduce the cooking time by about 45 mins i come from the land of 30 million sheep to 4 million humans, Roasted lamb is one of my favourites
when life hands you lemons, make lemon gelee, lemon meringue pie, or any other dessert your heart desires

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when life hands you lemons, make lemon gelee, lemon meringue pie, or any other dessert your heart desires

www.theunknownchef.com
www.theunknownchef.co.nz
www.shoebridge.co.nz
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post #7 of 16
I could not agree with you more Tessa, nothing like leg of lamb roasted pink with a crispy skin. Maybe we are missing something here, I will have to try it one day.
post #8 of 16
I do not use recipes or cook books to cook , I use them just to get ingredients and basic idea.There are to many variables* to use any fixed recipe such as altitude, climate source of ingredients etc.
However I do not cook any meat (roast) over 400. I have experimented over the years and for the yield that you lose, it does not pay. Actually I prefer to cook all meat in an Alto Sham.

*example a 100 pound bag of flour in Florida delivered weighs 105 pounds why? because of our high humidity factor,and if delivered on a rainy day even weighs more, so when baking how do you adjust for every product or even a roux??
CHEFED
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post #9 of 16
Thread Starter 
If you have not eaten a fork tender braised leg of lamb then you are sorely sorely missing out. Medium rare is nice too but a nice braise is hard to beat. I'm a little surprised that most of you have not heard of lamb being braised. I have done it often but this time...

...I guess what I'm looking for is something between a roast and a braise. I gather that can be achieved by roasting something covered? I think that searing the lamb in the beginning will help me achieve that wonderful crust I'm looking for, while continuing with braising will result in falling apart tenderness. BDL, the flavor I'm going for is really a greek lemon, pepper, and garlic and I am weary of the use of paste, bay leaf, etc. That seems to be going more in the direction of a braised stew flavoring for me. Not sure hot to adapt it.

Concern: I want to use the pan juices to roast potatoes in. Should that be done after the lamb is cooked and resting, or can it be done simultaneously during its last hour of roasting? I never know how to time that.

Thanks for your suggestions, it sounds like it's going to be a long day.

"You are what you eat, so don't be fast, cheap, easy, or fake."

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"You are what you eat, so don't be fast, cheap, easy, or fake."

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post #10 of 16
Gigot de sept heures is a classic, and whoever knows how to cook properly can easily make up a recipe for it. I do mine pretty much the same, except I only use wine (no stock), and seal my deep roasting pan with dough.
post #11 of 16
Thread Starter 
Hmm, the lamb was delicious but dry. Where did I go wrong?

1. I seared the lamb in my dutch oven then removed and set aside.
2. I removed the fat and added a little butter, then sauteed onions, carrots, celery.
3. Deglazed with vermouth and lemon juice.
4. Put the lamb back in, brought to a simmer, covered and placed in a 225 oven for 5 hours.
5. I wrapped and covered the lamb and let it rest while I...
6. ...dropped some potatos into the same pot full of lamb juice. Brought to a simmer, let the liquid reduce a bit and then put in a 350 oven for 45 minutes to let them roast.
7. After the potatoes were ready the sauce looked like gravy, I know it's good stuff but I didn't want to try to seperate the fat. Seemed like too much work. So I served the lamb dry. It was tasty... but dry.

"You are what you eat, so don't be fast, cheap, easy, or fake."

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"You are what you eat, so don't be fast, cheap, easy, or fake."

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post #12 of 16
Mapiva,

Maybe because it was already off the bone, or because the roast was so small. Five hours was probably just too long. I wanted you to check at four for doneness, but wrote the instructions poorly. My bad. I'm sorry. In retrospect, you probably should have checked after three or three and a half.

Cooking is very much live and learn. If it's any consolation, I feel terrible about you serving my mistakes.

BDL
post #13 of 16
I love a slowly braised leg of lamb, done in white wine and lots of garlic, oregano and rosemary. I also love it done as a roast, on the rare side of medium rare, or done in a Weber kettle over indirect high heat. There's times when one is what you want, not the other.

Personally, I think a boneless leg just over two pounds would seem to be a better candidate for the quicker, high heat roasting methods. The ones I've braised have all been bone-in, on the order of 5 - 6 pounds or so as I recall, and done just over the boiling point at about 225 F or so. 325 does seem a bit high for a long, slow braise.

No dinner parties or anything this week, the freezer is fairly ful of leftovers already, so there's no need to do a whole leg this week. But maybe a couple of braised shanks, or perhaps lamb stew - I just realized that I put carrots in my lamb stew, but I don't recall using them when braising a leg. Odd.

mjb.
Food nourishes my body.  Cooking nourishes my soul.
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Food nourishes my body.  Cooking nourishes my soul.
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post #14 of 16
Thread Starter 
BDL, there's nothing to be sorry about. I did check the roast after 3.5 hours and 4.5 and it seemed really really tough. No spoon qualities. I'm very good at fast cooking, but I seem to be terrible at slow cooking. I need more mojo I guess. I will still push myself to experiment though since at holidays most folks want to be served a delicious roast beast and I want to be able to give it to them. If I don't get this greek lamb thing right I will never live it down.

I will partially blame the cut of meat for this one. I've marinaded and used for kabobs before with great success but I remember another time that I've tried to roast it to medium and it was pretty dry. Time to buy bone in I guess?

"You are what you eat, so don't be fast, cheap, easy, or fake."

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"You are what you eat, so don't be fast, cheap, easy, or fake."

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post #15 of 16
Bone-in is a lot more forgiving.

The 7 hour, "spoon" lamb is the tenderest lamb I know, but there are a lot of roast recipes from around the Mediterranean that aren't quite as braised. I have a couple, including one for a stuffed, boned roast. But, the modern way of cooking to serve in the rare to medium range. I don't know who it would turn out cooked to a Greek "beyond well done."

If you're serious about the holidays ... SMOKE the lamb. SMOKE the LAMB. SMOKE THE LAMB. (I'm sensing a theme developing. You?)

Kissing that leg with a little oak smoke is a VGT (very good thing). You can get away with a certain amount of overcooking too; smoking is very forgiving that way. Roast the potatoes separately by cutting them in half; coating them with olive oil, coarse salt and rosemary; and roasting cut side down in a hot oven. Serve the potatoes with fresh, lightly cooked vegetables. Pass an avgolemono sauce made with mixed chicken/beef stock (or lamb stock if you can score another bone).

BDL
post #16 of 16
Hi,
Maybe it was the lack of fat going through the meat that made it dry out.

Personally i love to slow roast a shoulder of lamb. It has more fat going throught the meat which keeps it moist during cooking.
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