One of the meals we most look forward to each year is the first Sunday lunch of roast new season lamb. Either a shoulder or a full or half leg, the new season lamb joint is tender, sweet and succulent, full of flavour.
I am reminded of the old poem by Thomas Love Peacock, “The War Song of Dinas Vawr” which always had resonance for me as a farmer’s son…it starts:
“The mountain sheep are sweeter,
But the valley sheep are fatter,
We therefore deemed it meeter
To carry off the latter……..”
Unlike the bandit warriors in the Welsh Marches, I think that the fresh, sweet taste of the new season lambs is superior to that of the fatter hoggets, or older lambs from the previous season. That’s why new season lamb is so special…and is now available for our customers.
Our favourite recipe is a traditional French celebration dish, very simple to cook:
Traditional French Gigot
Take a shoulder or leg joint of new season lamb, insert slivers of garlic or rosemary at two inch spacings all over the joint; sprinkle with salt and pepper and roast in an initially hot oven, basting from time to time with the juices. For a nice pink interior allow fifteen to twenty minutes per pound, more for well done.
Meanwhile chip some King Edward or similar potatoes, frying them once, or twice briefly in hot oil until they are pale yellow but not yet crisped up.
The traditional French accompaniment is flageolets or French haricot beans. If you cannot obtain these, young broad beans boiled in lightly salted water, make a good substitute.
Take the lamb joint out of the oven and allow it to rest on a serving dish. Add the warmed-up flageolets or broad beans to the juices in the roasting pan, lifting the caramelised meat juices to add flavour. You can add any juices from carving the lamb to the beans as well.
Reheat the oil and dunk the twice cooked chips to crisp them up. Serve, followed or accompanied by a simple green salad, as the lamb dish is very rich.
Enjoy your French celebration feast with, perhaps, a glass or two of good French claret or Bergerac or Cahors…