Sunday, April 11, 2010

A Spring Dinner Party...Provencal Roasted Leg of Lamb

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This is one of the many ways I prepare a leg of lamb, butterflied and roasted.  For a dinner party, it's the only way to go.  There is no hassle when it comes to slicing and serving, which is something to consider when you have a lot of last minute details to think about before you sit down to dinner. This is always the part I dread and the one I mentally rehearse the night before the party.  Pulling it all together with effortless elegance (and cool as a cucumber) is the sign of a good and experienced hostess.

For many years, I have not had a host to share with the duties of hosting a dinner party, although on many ocassions, I have had a dinner partner and/or a maid.  They come in handy, the dinner partner and the maid, but in the end, the success of your party depends mainly on you.    So make things easy on yourself, cook what you know and always try to serve a menu that doesn't require too many last minute details.

To enhance the flavor of this leg of lamb, the meat is brushed with a mixture of mustard and herbes de Provence before roasting. A Chilled Spring Pea Soup, the Sweet Potato & Leek Gratin or Scalloped Potatoes and  the Strawberry Short Cakes wrap up a beautiful and easy Spring dinner party. Oh, and if you are like me, you wouldn't think of eating lamb without mint jelly!


Ingredients:

1 boneless leg of lamb, about 4 lb., butterflied and trimmed of fat

3 Tbs. Dijon mustard

2 Tbs. herbes de Provence, coarsely ground with a mortar and pestle

1 TB minced garlic

Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

3 Tbs. olive oil

3 leeks, white and light green portions, cleaned and quartered lengthwise*

1 cup pearl onions, peeled

Directions:

Preheat an oven to 450ºF.

Lay the leg of lamb flat on a cutting board. Using a meat pounder, lightly pound the lamb to an even 1 1/2-inch thickness. In a small bowl, stir together the mustard, herbes de Provence, olive oil and minced garlic, salt and pepper. Brush the mustard mixture evenly over the inside surface of the lamb. Roll up the lamb and tie securely with kitchen twine at 2-inch intervals. Rub the outside of the lamb with salt, pepper and another 1 Tbs. of the oil.

Heat a roasting pan over high heat. Sear the lamb on all sides until browned, 3 to 5 minutes per side.

In a bowl, stir together the leeks, pearl onions, the remaining 1 Tbs. oil, salt and pepper. Arrange the vegetables around the lamb. Transfer the pan to the oven and roast for 15 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 375ºF and continue to roast until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the meat registers 130º to 135ºF for medium-rare to medium, about 45 minutes more. Transfer the lamb to a cutting board, cover loosely with aluminum foil and let rest for 10 minutes before slicing.

Remove the twine from the lamb, cut the meat into slices and arrange on a warmed platter. Skim the fat off the pan drippings and transfer the drippings to a sauceboat. Serve the lamb immediately with the leeks and pearl onions. Pass the pan drippings alongside. Serves 8.

*Substitute carrots for the leeks if you are serving the Sweet Potato and Leek Gratin

Adapted from Williams Sonoma Kitchens

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