Roast Studded Leg of Lamb with Potato and Fennel Gratin
2.7 kg leg of lamb **calculate cooking time, see below
4 cloves garlic, cut into long strips
4-5 anchovy fillets in olive oil, cut into 2cm narrow strips
Black pepper and a little salt (not too much, the anchovies are salty)
FOR THE GRATIN
1.5 kg medium sized potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced
1 tbsp olive oil and a small knob of butter
2 fennel bulbs, trimmed and thinly sliced
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
1 clove garlic (optional)
300ml single cream mixed with 100 ml milk
Salt and pepper
30g butter cut into small cubes
4 tbsp grated Parmesan (optional indulgence)
- Preheat the oven to 200°C.
- Make some deep slits (about 15) with a sharp narrow pointed knife, going about 2.5 cm deep into the flesh all over the lamb, taking care not to slash and make it too easy for the precious juices to escape.
- Poke a sliver of garlic and a strip of anchovy into each slit, helping them in with a skewer or similar implement.
- Set the lamb in a roasting tin and rub with a little of the oil surrounding the anchovies.
- Roast in the oven for 30 minutes while you prepare the gratin.
- For the gratin, put a large pot of water over high heat and when it is boiling fast, tip in the sliced potatoes to blanche for a couple of minutes. You do not want the potatoes to cook till soft, only to take away their rawness and to reduce the otherwise lengthy cooking time. Drain into a colander and rinse with cold water.
- Soften the sliced onion and fennel and garlic, if using, in the butter and oil with a pinch of salt for 2 or 3 minutes.
- Butter a large gratin dish and alternately layer potatoes and the fennel mix, seasoning, and spoon on the milk/cream mix until all the ingredients are used up ending with a potato layer and the last of the cream. Dot with the butter. Cover loosely with foil until ready to cook. The Parmesan goes on when the foil comes off for the last 20 minutes or so of the cooking time.
- After 30 minutes reduce the oven temperature to 170°C.
- Baste the meat with its own juices and cook for a further hour, checking and basting. Cover with a double layer of baking parchment if it’s getting too brown.
- About 50 minutes before the end of the meat’s cooking time transfer the roasting tin to a lower oven shelf and put the covered gratin dish above it. After 25 minutes remove the foil from the gratin, sprinkle with the cheese, if using, then bake to a nice bubbling golden brown. Test that the vegetables are tender all through, add more milk if the dish is looking dry.
- Allow the meat to rest, covered, in a warm place, for at least 20 minutes before carving.
For a medium roast, i.e. a little pink in the middle, you will need to cook the joint for about 20 minutes for each 500g meat, plus 20 minutes extra at the end.