Cook:4 hrs 30 mins
- Serves 8
- More effort
Nutrition per serving
- 1 large leg of British lamb, about 3½ kg/7¼lb
- 2-3 tbsp olive oil
- 1 large leek
- 1 bay leaf
- a few sprigs of fresh thyme
- 2 inner sticks of celery
- 25g butter
- 1 large Spanish onion, cut into small dice
- 1 largish carrot, cut into small dice
- 3 large heads of garlic
- 500ml dry white wine
- 500ml lamb stock or stock made with 2tsp Marigold Swiss vegetable bouillon powder
TipAbout the name
The ‘four’ relates to the number of hours it takes for the leg of lamb to cook and the ‘thirty’ to the approximate number of garlic cloves that infuse it with sweet, bold flavour.What to ask your butcher
Ask him to cut off the shank (knuckle) end of the leg, so it will fit in your casserole dish (the leg will weigh about 3.25kg/7lb once this has been removed). You can ask the butcher to remove the skin and fat as well, but it’s not difficult to do yourself. It’s important to remove the fat, because it tastes pretty horrible unless it’s frazzled, and it will spoil the sauce.Getting Ahead
Remove skin and fat up to 12 hours ahead, cling film the leg loosely and refrigerate. Peel the garlic up to 24 hours ahead and refrigerate in a sealed plastic bag. The veg can be prepared up to 8 hours ahead and even sweated off. Keep refrigerated but, if cooked, bring the vegetables to room temperature before adding to casserole.
Using a sharp knife, trim the skin and as much fat as possible from the lamb. Smear lightly with olive oil and season. Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a very large frying pan over a medium-high heat. Brown the lamb thoroughly on all sides, turning it with a big pair of tongs, then put it in a large, but fairly snug-fitting, casserole (a 4.8 litre/8 pint oval one is ideal). Reserve the pan.
Slit lengthways through the first two layers of the leek, remove leaves and wash them. Put the bay leaf, thyme and celery inside one leaf and wrap with the other, to enclose the contents. Tie this ‘faggot’ with kitchen string and set aside. Rinse the rest of the leek and slice finely.
Put the reserved frying pan over a low-medium heat and melt the butter. Tip in the onion, carrot and sliced leek and cook gently for 10-15 minutes, stirring frequently, until the vegetables have softened. Add them to the casserole, draining off any fat first. Reserve the pan.
Preheat the oven to 150C/Gas 2/fan oven 130C. Break the garlic into cloves and place in a heatproof bowl. Cover with boiling water and leave for 1 minute, then drain, run under cold water and peel: the best way is to place a clove on a chopping board, nick off the root end and, without lifting the blade, pull the clove away. This removes the first bit of skin and the rest should come away easily. Set the cloves aside.
Discard any fat from the frying pan and put it over a very high heat. Pour in the wine, scrape up any bits from the bottom and boil furiously for 5 minutes. Pour the wine and stock into the casserole. Add the garlic cloves and leek faggot, making sure they are immersed – the lamb should be at least half-covered. Do not add salt.
Cover the casserole and put it into the oven. Braise for 4 hours, reducing the temperature to 140C/Gas 1/fan oven 120C for the last 2 hours and turning the lamb every hour. Remove the lamb, put it on a heated dish, drape loosely with foil and keep warm for up to 30 minutes.
Strain 1 litre/13?4 pints of the cooking juices into a pan and bring to the boil over a very high heat. Bubble madly for 8-10 minutes until the liquid has reduced by half. Meanwhile, tip the vegetable debris (but not the faggot) into a food processor and whizz to a smooth purée. Whisk this into the reduced liquid to make the sauce. Check the seasoning, then keep the sauce at a bare simmer until you are ready to serve.