I promised you lamb for Easter and here it is, just a little bit after Easter! Can I deliver, or what?
Easter and lamb go together like fish and chips, peanut butter and jelly, Sonny and Cher… You get the point. I would claim that Norway has the best lamb in the world. All summer long they graze either up in the mountains or along the coast. This gives the meat a fantastic flavor! So let´s do it justice 🙂
This recipe is a classic Norwegian dish; a slowly roasted leg of lamb served with creamed and gratinated potatoes and vegetables. And a lovely red vintage Rioja – never wrong.
Ingredients (generous servings, enough for ca. 8-10 people):
- a leg of lamb (ca. 4 kg, with the bone)
- 7-8 cloves of garlic (5 for the lamb, 2-3 for the potatoes)
- rosemary (preferrably fresh, but dried will do in a pinch)
- 1 onion
- potatoes (sliced, about 2 – 2 1/2 kg, enough to fill a big oven proof dish)
- ca. 1 liter heavy whipping cream (enough to cover the potatoes)
- ca. 100 – 200 g shredded cheese (again; enough to cover the potatoes)
- vegetables (for example carrots, sugar snaps, cauliflower, broccoli…)
- 2-3 TS butter
- 2-3 TS flour
- ett lammelår (ca. 4 kg)
- 7-8 fedd hvitløk
- rosmarin (helst fersk, men tørket går det også)
- 1 løk
- ca. 1 liter fløte (nok til å dekke potetene)
- ca. 100-200 g riflet ost (nok til å dekke potetene)
- grønnsaker (f.eks. gulrøtter, sukkererter, blomkål, brokkoli…)
- 2-3 ss smør
- 2-3 ss mel
Start by making small incisions with a knife and stuff half a clove of garlic into each incision.
Season generously with salt, pepper and rosemary. Add water, a coarsely chopped onion and a carrot to a large, deep pan. This will make a lovely stock for the sauce, so make sure to not throw any of it out!
Plop the leg in the middle of it, and stick a meat thermometer into the thickest part of the thigh. As you can see I used dried rosemary. I cooked this lamb far, far up into the Norwegian mountains and even though the local grocery store at Edland is surprisingly well stocked, on this particular day I couldn´t find fresh rosemary. They had it the next day, though. But by then the particular leg in question had already been consumed!
If you´re kind of in a hurry, you can turn your oven on at 170 degrees Celsius / 340 degrees Fahrenheit and bake until the meat thermometer reads 70 degrees Celsium / 160 degrees Fahrenheit (for pink meat) or 76 degrees Celsium / 170 degrees Fahrenheit for meat that is more done. This will probably take approximately two hours. If you have a bit more time the leg gets even better and more juicy if it is cooked slowly; about 3-4 hours at 115 degrees Celsius / 240 degrees Fahrenheit.
For the potatoes there is a little trick. The normal way to do this would be to fill the dish with the sliced potatoes, pour over the cream and mix in a couple of pressed garlic cloves. Bake in the oven until the potatoes are tender (this takes a little while…), adding cheese toward the end of the baking time.
But; since the oven is occupied, boil the peeled and sliced potatoes (about half a centimeter thick slices) in heavy cream (enough to cover the potatoes) and 2-3 cloves of pressed garlic in a pot (instead of the dish). Once the potatoes are tender move the potatoes into an ovenproof dish and cover with shredded cheese. Once the leg is done, it will need to rest for a little while. This is a good time to gratinate the potatoes. Turn up the heat to about 225 degrees Celsius / 440 degrees Fahrenheit and bake until the cheese is melted and starting to golden. This is also a good time to prepare the vegetables. Simply boil or steam them until tender (I like my veggies with a little resistance!)
Now to the gravy. Not all people make gravy with this dish since the lamb is already accompanied by the decadent, creamy, cheesy potatoes. But I swear to Winnie the Pooh mentality and say: Both!
I am gonna use a fancy french word now; beware! Firstly; make a brown “roux”. Mhm. I´ll explain. Start by measuring up equal amounts of butter and flour. Let´s say 2-3 tablespoons of each or so. Melt the butter before adding the flour. Keep stirring and let this sizzle until it is dark in color. And this was the brown roux. Easy! Now pour in juices from the pan where the leg of lamb has been cooked, little by little, until you get a even sauce of your preferred viscosity.
Now this is happiness!
And don´t be afraid to mash those potatoes a bit and smother with gravy. And swoosh a generous gulp of Faustino around in your mouth while contemplating how to be able to fit another serving in that happy belly… Oh heavenly heaven.
Happy (belated) Easter!