I grew up with roast leg of lamb, so leg of lamb is very primal for me, reminds me of my childhood and all those good, garlicky flavors that my parents rubbed into the meat. Braising it is more forgiving though, which I like when I am entertaining.
-- Melissa Clark is a food columnist for the dining section of The New York Times. She's also the author of Cook This Now, and blogs at Melissa Clark.
1 shank end leg of lamb (4 1/2 pounds), bone in, rinsed and patted dry
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon plus 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 3/4 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
2 cups chicken stock
1 (750-ml) bottle fruity white wine
3 small onions (3/4 pound), peeled, halved, and thinly sliced
3 large carrots (3/4 pound), peeled and sliced into 1/2-inch rounds
1 large parsnip (1/4 pound), peeled and sliced into 1/2-inch rounds
4 anchovy fillets
2 rosemary sprigs
2 sage or thyme sprigs
1 bay leaf
1/2 cup pitted and coarsely chopped green olives
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
for the garlicky root vegetable puree
1 large celeriac bulb, peeled and diced
2 medium Yukon Gold potatoes, diced
2 large parsnips, peeled and diced
4 garlic cloves, peeled
2 bay leaves
2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon kosher salt, more to taste
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, to taste
Freshly grated nutmeg to taste
To prepare the lamb: Preheat the oven to 450°F. Rub the lamb with 1 tablespoon oil, and season it with 1 tablespoon salt and 1 1/2 teaspoons black pepper.
In a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, bring the stock and wine to a boil; allow it to bubble gently and reduce while you sauté the vegetables, about 10 minutes or so.
In a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat, warm the remaining 2 tablespoons oil. Add the onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft, 7 to 10 minutes. Stir in the carrots and parsnip, anchovies, 1/4 teaspoon salt, the remaining 1/4 teaspoon pepper, rosemary, sage, and bay leaf. Turn off the heat and pour in just enough of the stock-wine mixture to cover the vegetables. Place the lamb, fatty-side up, on top of the vegetables.
Transfer the pot to the oven and cook, uncovered, for 25 minutes. Then add the remaining stock, cover the pot, and reduce the heat to 325°F. Cook for 1 1/2 hours, at a bare simmer, reducing the heat if necessary, then turn the lamb over. Cook 1 1/2 hours longer and turn the lamb over again. Uncover the pot and stir in the olives. Cook another hour, turning the lamb after 30 minutes. At this point the lamb should be soft enough to cut with a serving spoon. If not, cover the pot and continue to cook until it is.
To prepare the root vegetable puree, in a large saucepan, combine the celery root, potatoes, parsnips, peeled garlic cloves, and bay leaves. Pour in 12 cups water and 2 tablespoons kosher salt. Over medium-high heat, bring to a boil; reduce the heat and simmer until tender, 20 to 25 minutes. Drain, discard the bay leaves, and transfer the root vegetables and garlic to a food processor. Add the butter, remaining teaspoon salt, and nutmeg; process until very smooth. Taste and add more salt if necessary. Keep warm or reheat before serving.
Just before serving, mash the finely chopped garlic and the remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt to form a paste. Stir it into the lamb’s pan juices.
To serve, make a bed of root vegetable puree on each plate. Cut the lamb with a serving spoon, and lay some of it over the puree, along with some vegetables and pan juices.
From COOK THIS NOW by Melissa Clark. Copyright © 2011,
Melissa Clark, Inc. Published by Hyperion. Available wherever books are sold. All Rights Reserved.