Gigot d’Agneau a la Bretonne

One of the great dishes of French regional cuisine, Gigot d’Agneau a la Bretonne (jee-goh dahn-yoh ah lah breh-tohn) is not difficult to prepare and makes an appetizing and sustaining weekend lunch. Serve with Brussels sprouts and a lightly chilled Tavel rose wine.

2 teaspoons butter x 5 lb. leg of lamb garlic cloves, halved

2 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoon black pepper bouquet garni, consisting of

4 parsley sprigs,

1 thyme spray and

1 bay leaf tied together

1 lb. dried white haricot beans, washed, soaked overnight and drained

12 teaspoons salt

2 large carrots, scraped and quartered

3 medium-sized onions

2 celery stalks, chopped bouquet garni, consisting of

4 parsley sprigs,

1 thyme spray and

1 bay leaf tied together

1 oz. butter

1 tablespoons olive oil

1 lb. tomatoes, blanched, peeled, seeded and coarsely chopped

5 teaspoon black pepper

First, prepare the beans. Place the beans in a large saucepan and cover them with water. Add

½ teaspoon of the salt and place the pan over low heat. Bring the water slowly to the boil. Add the carrots, onions, celery and bouquet garni to the pan, cover and gently simmer for about

1 ½ hours, or until the beans are tender but still firm.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to very hot 450°F (Gas Mark 8, 230°C). Lightly grease a large, shallow roasting tin with the 2 teaspoons of butter.

With a sharp knife, make four incisions around the bone of the lamb. Insert the garlic clove halves into the incisions and sprinkle the meat with the salt and pepper.

Place the bouquet garni on the bottom of the roasting tin and place the meat on it.

Place the tin in the oven and roast for 20 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to fairly hot 375 °F (Gas Mark 5, 190°C) and continue roasting the lamb for a further If to 2 hours, basting occasionally, or until it is tender and thoroughly cooked. Test the meat by piercing it with the point of a sharp knife. The juices that run out should be only faintly rosy. Remove the tin from the oven and transfer the lamb to a large serving plate. Set aside and keep warm.

Remove the pan containing the beans from the heat and drain them, discarding the cooking liquid. Reserve the onions and discard the other vegetables and the bouquet garni. Set the beans aside in a large bowl. Thinly slice the onions and add them to the beans.

In a large frying-pan, melt the butter with the oil over moderate heat. When the foam subsides, add the tomatoes and, stirring frequently, cook them for 3 to 5 minutes, or until they pulp slightly. Add the beans and onions, remaining salt and the pepper and simmer the mixture for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove the pan from the heat and pour the mix-ture into a large, deep warmed serving dish. Serve at once, with the lamb.