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Leg of Lamb

Leg of Lamb by chef Thomas Keller

A whole roasted leg of lamb makes a dramatic presentation, and it is even more striking when it is served right from the All-Clad Copper-Core Oval Roaster, surrounded by roasted artichokes and tomatoes, with a flavourful lamb jus.

When ordering the lamb from the butcher, ask them to French the shank bone for you and to trim away the excess fat, leaving just a thin layer over the meat. Order the lamb bones for making the lamb jus at the same time, and ask that they be cut into pieces. It is essential to have an instant-read thermometer for this recipe, as the weights of lamb legs vary, and checking the temperature is the only way to make sure the lamb is cooked properly. I like to serve lamb medium-rare, and remove it from the oven at 135°F. If you prefer rare lamb, remove it from the oven when it reaches 130°F.
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• One 6 to 6 1/2 -pound trimmed bone-in leg of lamb (shank bone Frenched, leaving just a thin layer of fat over the top of the lamb)
• Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
• 3/4 cup canola oil
• 4 garlic cloves, lightly crushed
• 2 pounds lamb bones, cut into 1-inch pieces
• 1 leek, white and light green parts only, cut into 1-inch pieces and rinsed
• 1 cup diced (1-inch) yellow onions
• 1 cup diced (1-inch) carrots
• 1 medium tomato, diced
• 2 sprigs thyme
• 4 cups chicken stock
• Fleur de sel
• Globe Artichokes with Niçoise Olives (recipe follows)

Set a rack in the bottom third of the oven and preheat the oven to 425°F. With a sharp knife, score the fat covering the top of the leg in parallel lines 1/2 inch apart, then score the lamb again at right angles to the first lines to form a crosshatch pattern. Season the lamb generously with salt and pepper, rubbing the seasoning into the scoring. Let the lamb sit at room temperature for 1 hour.

Wrap the exposed end of the lamb bone in aluminum foil. Heat a large Copper-Core Oval Roaster over low heat. Add the oil and increase the heat to medium. Place the lamb in the pan, fat side down, and cook for about 6 minutes to brown gently. The end of the bone may protrude from the pan, which is fine; it can be used as a handle when you turn the lamb to brown it. Cook, turning occasionally as necessary to brown the entire surface; this will take about 13 to 15 minutes total. Remove the leg to a baking sheet.

Add the lamb bones to the roaster and brown over medium-high heat for about 12 minutes, turning the bones as they become richly browned. Remove the bones to the baking sheet.

Drain off about three-quarters of the fat from the roaster and discard. Add the leeks, onions, carrots, and garlic cloves to the pan and stir to coat in the fat. Return the bones to the pan, then place the leg of lamb on the bones.

Roast the lamb for 20 minutes, then turn the oven temperature down to 325°F and roast for 1 hour. Check the temperature of the meat, inserting the thermometer in the thickest part of the roast, being careful to avoid the bone. If necessary, continue to cook, checking the temperature of the meat frequently, until it reaches 135°F.

Remove from the oven and let the lamb rest in the pan in a warm spot for 20 minutes.

Place a cooling rack on a baking sheet, and remove the leg to the rack. Transfer the bones and vegetables to a Dutch Oven or stock pot. Add the tomato and thyme to the pot.

Pour or skim off any fat from the roaster, being careful not to pour out any juices. Place the roaster over medium heat, add 2 cups water, and scrape the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon or spatula to deglaze. Pour all the liquid over the bones. Add the chicken stock and bring to a simmer over medium heat, skimming any impurities that rises to the top. Simmer for about 1 hour, or until the jus is reduced by about half.

Strain into a small sauce pan, place over medium heat, and reduce to 2 cups. Discard the solids.

To serve: Slice the lamb in long thin slices. Arrange overlapping slices on each serving plate. Arrange the artichokes, olives and roasted tomatoes along one side of the lamb. Spoon lamb jus over the lamb and sprinkle with fleur de sel.

Serves 10

Glob artichokes with nicoise olives

It may take you a few times to get the technique of “turning” artichokes, but for any artichoke lover, it is worth it.

• 6 large globe artichokes
• 3 lemons, halved
• 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
• 1 to 2 tablespoons chopped Italian parsley
• coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
• 1/4 cup quartered Niçoise olives

Fill a large bowl with water and squeeze the juice from 3 of the lemon halves into the water, (the lemon water will keep the trimmed artichokes from discolouring*).

Hold an artichoke with the stem end toward you and pull off the very small bottom leaves. Working your way around the artichoke, bend back the lower leaves until they snap and break, then pull them off. Continue removing the tough outer leaves until you reach the cone of yellow inner leaves. Repeat with the remaining artichokes.

Cut the stems flush with the artichoke bottoms. Rub a lemon half over the exposed surfaces as you work. Turn each artichoke on its side and cut off the top two-thirds of the artichoke leaves, from the tip down to the meaty heart. Discard the trimmings.

Hold an artichoke heart in your hand, stem end down. Using a sharp paring knife trim away the tough dark green exterior all around the heart. Turn the heart stem end up and trim the bottom of the heart at a 45-degree angle to remove the dark green exterior and expose the light green flesh; rub all the cut surfaces with lemon. With a melon baller or sharp spoon, scrape out the fuzzy choke and discard. Drop the heart into the water and repeat with the remaining artichokes.

Drain the artichoke hearts and dry on paper towels. Cut each artichoke heart into one-half inch wedges. Heat the oil in a 10-inch fry pan over low heat. Add the artichoke hearts and a squeeze of lemon juice, increase the heat to medium-high, and cook, tossing the hearts, until tender and browned around the edges. Toss with the parsley and season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve garnished with the olives.

* Note: One tablespoon of powdered Vitamin C per gallon of water may be substituted for the lemons to keep the artichokes from discolouring.

Chef Thomas Keller's tip



" I like to serve lamb medium-rare, and remove it from the oven at 135°F. If you prefer rare lamb, remove it from the oven when it reaches 130°F. "
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