This recipe is from last year and was our Easter dinner. If you are thinking of a leg of lamb for this year, I cannot tell you how perfectly wonderful this dish is. Never made leg of lamb? Time to visit your butcher.!
The recipe is titled Five Hour Lamb with Potato Gratin. Usually, “gratin” denotes adding cream and cheese to produce some rich, succulent potato extravaganza. Not here. No dairy at all. Just the lamb. Those potato slices in the bottom picture become candy in the top in the top picture. The juices and fat from the lamb drip down into the potatoes, first cooking them to tenderness, then beginning to actually crisp and caramelize them.
The lamb is wonderful, flavored with a coating of anchovies, garlic and mint sauce. But the potatoes? Oh, you have never in your life experienced potatoes like these. But you can. You need a grand oven with perfect heat. And you might want a bottle of wine as you watch the transformation. The aromas begin by Hour 3. You’ll have two hours to develop patience. I suggest a bold red.
This recipe comes from the new book Perfect Plates in 5 Ingredients by John Waite, the winner in 2012 of The Great British Baking Show. He’s a young chef and writer of exceptional talent. This recipe, his take on Greek ideas, is certainly a perfect plate and an elegant one as well.
The marinade here has proportions for a 4 ½ pound leg of lamb. Ours was 12 pounds, so we scaled the marinade proportionately. Feel free to dabble with proportions and taste test before using. The recipe comes Great Britain so it refers to mint sauce. We used mint jelly which is much easier to find here in the United States. Or, you can Google and find and make your own mint sauce if you are obsessive about authenticity. That’s a fine obsession to have.
The leftovers are wonderful. If there are any.
Five-Hour Lamb with Potato Grain
Yield: serves 6-8, assuming 4-5 pound leg of lamb
- 3 ½ ounces jarred anchovies in olive oil
- 8 garlic cloves
- 1 tablespoon mint sauce
- 4 ½ pound leg of lamb
- 6 medium russet or Yukon gold potatoes
- Sea salt flakes
- Coarse black pepper
For the marinade, blitz the anchovies and the oil they came in, with the peeled garlic cloves and the mint sauce to a smooth paste in a food processor. If you don’t have a food processor, you could make the paste using a sharp knife and bold ambition. Stir in 1 teaspoon each of salt and pepper.
With a sharp knife, stab the lamb leg repeatedly all over— you need as many deep cuts as possible, without completely massacring the meat. Spread the paste over the entire surface of the meat, working it well into the cuts. Refrigerate for an hour, or until required.
Preheat the oven to 325°F. Remove the lamb from the fridge 1 hour before it goes into the oven, to bring it up to room temperature.
Slice the unpeeled potatoes as finely as possible—I use a mandoline—and arrange them in layers in a deep-sided roasting dish, seasoning with a very small pinch of salt and pepper every couple of layers. Place the lamb on top of the potato slices. Cover with a couple of sheets of foil, ensuring you seal it extremely well. Roast for 4!4 hours.
Remove the dish from the oven, and increase the heat to 425°F. Remove the foil, and baste the lamb with some of the juices from the roasting dish. Put everything back into the oven for an additional 30 minutes. Remove the lamb from the oven, transfer it to a plate, cover it with foil and leave to rest. Return the potatoes to the oven for a final 25 to 30 minutes, until slightly crispy around the edges.
Source: Perfect Plates in 5 Ingredients by John Whaite [Kyle, 2017]