29 November 2013

Lamb for Thanksgiving

I went to the local Intermarché supermarket's butcher counter and ordered a boned, rolled, and tied leg of lamb — un gigot d'agneau préparé en rôti — for our Thanksgiving dinner. We've been having lamb for Thanksgiving for many years now, because big feasts of turkey or other poultry in late November and again in late December got to be a little to much.

Mr Charles, c'est moi. It's the name I use when I place an order or make a restaurant reservation here.

Besides, for just the two of us, and most of the time it's just us, a leg of lamb is a real special-occasion dish, un repas de fête. We only cook one once a year. Then we have leftovers for days, the way you do when you cook a turkey for two. The lamb here is very good, of course. This boneless roast weighed 2.3 kg / 5 lbs.

The roast was boned, rolled, and tied. It was bardé on the top side.

Now I'll have to contradict myself. The gigot that the butcher prepared for me was so big that we ended up cutting it in half. We cooked one piece and we put the other piece in the freezer for later. We did the same thing a year or two ago when we got a very large lamb roast from the same butcher. Last year, we had company for Thanksgiving dinner so we cooked the whole roast.

The roast was so big that we decided to cut it in half and freeze one half for later.

We cooked the lamb pretty simply. I just sprinkled it with some dried thyme, salt, black pepper, and cayenne pepper. I put it in a baking dish and put three or four unpeeled garlic cloves around it. Then I put it in a 220ºC / 425ºF oven for about 45 minutes, checking its internal temperature with an instant-read thermometer every few minutes toward the end.

The roast ready for the oven...

We didn't want the lamb to be too rare, but we really didn't want it too well-done. I took the roast out of the oven when the internal temperature had reached 65ºC / 150ºF. Then Walt covered it with foil and a kitchen towel to let it rest for 20 minutes while we had our first course. That lets the heat distribute itself evenly through the roast. Ours still came out fairly rare.

I'm not sure I did a very good job of carving the lamb, but it was delicious anyway.

And that's okay, because it was delicious yesterday. We can cook the rarest pieces of the roast just a little more when we have them for lunch again today, after a shopping trip to Tours this morning. Then tomorrow we'll have cold lamb with boiled potatoes and some home-made mayonnaise à l'estragon, along with a green salad.


  1. That looks a lovely, moist and tender chunk of lamb...
    and the only lamb that seems to carve nicely is cold lamb... once it has set it is fine!!
    I'm not worried about whether or not I get two big bits or four smaller slices... it is the look and taste that count.


  2. Food. Good food. That's where it is.
    And home made meals like this leg of lamb, that's good food.

    I had a graving for a Burger the other week and made the colossal mistake to order one at Flunch. Never again.

  3. DH has a special birthday next month and you gave me an idea for his meal. Lamb is his favorite and yours looks perfect.

  4. Wow, that looks perfect. To me, the idea for Thanksgiving is to have a special meal with loved ones -- turkey, lamb, whatever.

  5. Hi Tim, yes, the lamb was and is excellent -- tender and juicy.

    H.P., yes, good food. Sorry about the Flunch experience. I ate at Flunch in Tours once, but I have no particular memory of the food.

    Evelyn, I hope you and Lew enjoy the lamb. We are enjoying ours. I think I might cook the other half of the roast by the method called cuisson à l'anglaise -- simmering it in a vegetable broth, but not for long so that it will be medium-rare, or rosé.

  6. Hi Judy, je suis d'accord avec toi.ü

  7. Well, this looks lovely to me. How I miss my old French butcher in St Cloud… He used to prepare meat for me exactly as yours did (minus the "Mr Charles," tag, of course :-) He would also tell me how to cook it so I would not ruin his wonderful merchandise. A wise man.

    Your leg of lamb turned out beautiful. And now you get to enjoy the left overs.

    My son and I enjoyed a traditional Thanksgiving meal with dear friends. The turkey was deliciously moist, and most of the sides healthy. That dreadful sweet potato with [industrial] marshmallow was nowhere to be found, and as always, I stayed clear of the Gerber baby food.. Uh… i mean pumpkin pie. All in all, a wonderful celebration :-)

    Bon weekend, Veronique (French Girl in Seattle)

  8. We rarely eat any meat other than chicken or turkey, and at these prices, we're not likely to eat it any more often. That lamb seems awfully expensive to me.

  9. Starman, remember the lamb is boneless, so you're only paying for what you can eat. I did the math and the price comes out to almost $12.50 per pound in U.S. dollars. I don't know if that's really expensive over there.

    Véronique, we had pumpkin pie Thursday afternoon. Sorry you don't like it. You need to try one of the good ones that Walt makes, with reduced sugar and spice compared to many American pies. We also like sweet potatoes a lot (but I can do without the marshmallows). Pumpkins, winter squashes, and sweet potatoes are more and more popular in France. I remember when you could hardly find them at all in Paris, back in the '70s.

  10. i need some sheep. seriously. looks fabulous!


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