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Summer Lamb braised in Beaujolais

This is certainly one of the best ways to cook lamb - slowly braising it under a tent of foil keeps it beautifully moist and really seems to develop its full flavor. Adding the root vegetables to cook in the braising juices is also very convenient and makes this an easy main course for entertaining.

Serves 6-8

Ingredients

1 leg of Scotch lamb, weighing 5-5½ 1b
1 bottle of Henry Fessy Beaujolais
4 tablespoons olive oil
8 small carrots, weighing about 8 oz
2 turnips, weighing about 8 oz
8 small red-skinned potatoes, weighing about 1½ lb
4 small parsnips, weighing about 1 lb
8 shallots or small onions, weighing about 8 oz
3 large garlic cloves, unpeeled
1 level teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
1 level teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary leaves
A few fresh thyme sprigs
1 rosemary sprig
1 bay leaf
1 heaped teaspoon red currant jelly
Sea salt and freshly milled black pepper

To garnish:

2 level tablespoons chopped fresh parsley or 1 level tablespoon fresh thyme leaves

Pre-heat the oven to 450ºF
You will also need a roasting tin, about 14½ x 10½ inches and 2 inches deep, and a large shallow roasting tray.

Instructions:

First, pour 3 tablespoons of the olive oil into the shallow roasting tray and put it into the oven as it pre-heats. Then prepare all the vegetables as follows: scrub the carrots, turnips, and potatoes; top and tail the carrots and turnips, leaving the carrots whole but chopping the turnips (with skins left on) into quarters, and cut the potatoes lengthways into 4 pieces (unpeeled). Now peel the parsnips and cut them into halves; and finally peel the shallots but leave them whole.

Now dry the vegetables thoroughly in a clean tea cloth. When the oven is up to temperature, carefully remove the roasting tray, using an oven glove to protect your hands. Place this over a direct medium heat on the hob and spoon the prepared vegetables and the unpeeled garlic into the fat. Turn them over to make sure they are well coated and return the tray to the top shelf of the oven for 25-30 minutes, turning them over at half time so that they roast evenly.

While they are in the oven, prepare the lamb by placing it in the roasting tin and rubbing the joint all over with the remaining tablespoon of olive oil, some crushed sea salt and coarsely ground black pepper.

When the vegetables are nicely tinged brown at the edges, remove them from the oven and set aside. Place the roasting tin with the lamb in the oven, on the highest shelf that will take it, and let it start to roast for 30 minutes or until it has turned a good golden color.

Take the lamb out of the oven, then reduce the temperature to 325ºF and spoon off any fat to use later. Place the roasting tin over a medium heat on top of the stove, pour in the Beaujolais and baste the meat with it. Then sprinkle with the chopped thyme and rosemary.

As soon as the wine begins to bubble, turn off the heat and cover the whole tin with a tent of foil (without it touching the meat). Fold the foil tight under the rim of the tin and replace it in the oven – on the center shelf this time – and let it continue cooking for 1½ hours.

When the time is up, remove the roasting tin from the oven and once again transfer it to direct heat. Carefully remove the foil and baste the meat well with the wine. Spoon the browned vegetables all around in the wine, season them with salt and freshly milled black pepper and pop in the sprigs of thyme and rosemary and the bay leaf. When it has come back to simmering point, replace the foil and cook for a further 1½ hours.

After that, remove the meat and vegetables to warmed serving dishes, discarding the sprigs of herbs, then cover to keep warm. Place the roasting tin over direct heat once more and let the sauce reduce. Squeeze the garlic pulp out of the skins into the sauce and whisk this in along with the red currant jelly.

Taste and season the sauce with salt and freshly milled black pepper, then pour it into a warm serving jug. Sprinkle the lamb and vegetables with the parsley or thyme and serve.

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