22 November 2011

The Thanksgiving splurge: gigot d'agneau

Yesterday we went to the Intermarché store over in Noyers-sur-Cher to see if we could buy our Thanksgiving lamb. We've been having lamb at Thanksgiving for 10 or 12 years now, at least. The Thanksgiving holiday is a good excuse for a splurge — a nice gigot d'agneau.

The butcher we normally buy the Thanksgiving lamb from down in Saint-Aignan is taking his annual holiday right now. Thanksgiving is not a French holiday, so he's getting his time off while he can, before the end-of-year holiday season is upon us. There's another butcher shop in town, but since it was Monday and we had to go out, we thought we'd check for a gigot (leg of lamb) at one butcher shop that is open on Mondays: the meat counter at Intermarché. It's a good one.

A rolled and tied boneless leg of lamb roast

Gigot is the quintessentially classic French dish prepared by home cooks. It's often served as Sunday dinner. It's usually served with the little pale green beans called flageolets, or with potatoes. We're going to have a gratin dauphinois with ours this year. Maybe we'll have beans with the leftovers, because there will be leftovers.

Side view of the rolled leg. It has a layer of fat, probably pork
fat, on top that will baste and enrich the meat as it roasts.

The butcher at Intermarché had legs of lamb in his display case. The price was about 16.50 euros per kilogram. That's a real splurge. But he also had a boned, rolled leg of lamb for just one euro more per kilo — 17.50€ = $23.60 U.S., and if you do the math, that comes to about $10.75 a pound at current exchange rates.

The underside of the boneless leg of lamb

I don't know if that's a high price for lamb in the U.S. — I see rack of lamb at $14.75 in San Francisco on Safeway.com — but the French gigots we normally buy cost between 30 and 40 euros, and this boneless one weighed just under 2 kg/ 4¼ lbs. and cost 34€. If you do the conversion, that's a lot of dollars. We could have bought just half of the rolled roast, but we bought the whole thing. I might cut it into two roasts and put one in the freezer for later.

Lamb would be good with this dish of peas, mushrooms,
onions, and escarole that was yesterday's lunch.

I'm obviously looking forward to cooking and eating the Thanksgiving lamb and the gratin dauphinois potatoes. We'll have turkey or something similar — maybe a capon or even a guinea fowl capon — at Christmas. We are very lucky to have such good food products available, and to be able to afford them once in a while. Retirement, you know...

* * *
Some people call this food porn...

P.S. I decided to cut the lamb roast into two pieces, and the meat looks so delicious that I had to take another photo. Now we'll have a second roast we can cook in December or January.


  1. Compared to any Supermarket meat department in North America, what impresses me most here in France is that the staff actually know their products.
    It seems as if butchers have been hired who learnt their trade from the ground up.

  2. That is lovely looking lamb! I can see why you took another picture once cut. I don't know how you find the quality of the meat compares to that which you were used to in the States, but we've found that, despite the higher prices, the meat is much better quality, there is less waste and the flavour and texture when cooked is better. I've just frozen a 'bargain' slab of "poitrine" [belly] of pork.... cut into three 700g smaller slabs... that's three lots of Boston Baked Beans that we'll be having over the winter.

  3. I meant to say... "Compared to the similar products in the UK!" after ... "when cooked is better."
    [Come on Blogger, let us edit comments we've made when we've spotted mistakes or ommisions... Wordpress and flickr do.]

  4. H.P., you are right. I've always had good luck with the butcher at Intermarché.

    Tim, I agree with you 1000% about editing comments. Blogger should implement that feature. I also agree about French meat quality as compared to what you get in the U.S. A lot of people like U.S. beef better, but I don't, overall. I like the leaner French beef... Was that fresh poitrine de porc?

  5. I'm not a huge lamb fan, but that sure looks nice :)) We're doing roast pork and ham this year, because I didn't want to take up room in the fridge with a big turkey (too much to buy for two big events this weekend).

    Butternut squash:what's your suggestion for how to cook it? I've bought some that's already cut into small cubes. Evelyn suggested roasting with olive oil and garlic. What about steaming? boiling? mashing after? I just don't know!

  6. re butternut squash....i bought the already cut too at trader joes (saves my arthritic hands from all the hard cutting/peeling) I will drizzle with olive oil & roast on hi temp.....this particular batch I intend to mix with cheese tortellini and some arugula, add mexican crema & some grated parmesan (for a random fusion meal the nite before turkey)

    i like the french meat better too

  7. Lamb is really expensive in Alabama and it comes from New Zealand mostly- that's a big carbon footprint. Lewis loves lamb and yours looks good all rolled up like that. Enjoy!

  8. Beautiful lamb roast, I'm drooling! Love the new sofa too.

  9. Food porn? I guess many of your photos could be classified as that if one interprets "porn" as excitable and highly desired, I guess I would add, largely unattainable!

    Each day I open your blog I wonder what new photos will be there to inspire my upcoming menus! Merci, Ken.

    Mary in Oregon

  10. Yes Ken, Fresh... and it is currently on offer at Leclerc [pub was in mailbox this AM] at 2,29€ the Kilo.
    The recipe I use for Baked Beans is from Delia Smith's Frugal Food.

  11. Yum, butternut squash... yes, you can steam it (start testing after about 20 minutes, just poke a cube with a sharp implement and, if it slides in easily, it's done). Then mash it to a puree, and make ice cream or muffins or tea bread or a hundred other things, or just eat it!

  12. Judy, for the butternut, I agree with either roasting or steaming it. I like to buy whole squashes, cut them in half, take out the seeds (saving some for planting next year), and put them cut side down on papier de cuisson on a plaque in the oven to roast them. They you can scoop out the pulp, mash or puree it, add some butter or cream or both and some spices (curry, nutmeg, cayenne, salt and pepper) and serve it with chicken or turkey or any meat. Steaming works the same, if you have squash that's already cut into cubes. And don't forget sweet potatoes, which you can do the same way, but roast them whole or cut them into pieces for steaming.

  13. Judy, I've got the same pre-diced butternut squash. I dump it in a bowl, then add a chopped fennel bulb, and a chopped red onion, toss with olive oil, salt and pepper then spread it out on a baking sheet and roast at high temp. until it's all a bit carmelized. So yummy, and so easy!

    Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

    Donna in SF

  14. boneless lamb meat here in Michigan runs about 10 to 11 dollars a pound from our somewhat high end grocery store.

    my favorite way to prepare butternut squash is to cut into 3 to 4 inch cubes leaving the skin on, rub with olive oil, season with salt and pepper, and bake skin side down. sprinkle with good quality balsamic vinegar just prior to serving.



What's on your mind? Qu'avez-vous à me dire ?