Gigot D’Agneau à L’Ail

Leg of Lamb with Garlic


Although this is merely a plain roast leg of lamb, it is so typically French that I have chosen it instead of some of the more ornate dishes made with lamb. The subtle and delicious flavour given by a clove of garlic inserted in the meat, near the bone, makes a French gigot something quite different from our roast leg of lamb. There are still some parts of France where roasting is done under ideal conditions—on a spit, in front of the fire. This is real roasting, for there is no such thing as roasting in an oven. Ovens bake, but do not roast. The French always dredge their roast meats with salt, they baste with butter or good lard only, and they baste frequently. The meat, when cooked in an oven, is placed on a grill in a meat pan in a hot oven, the joint is moistened all over with melted butter or lard—and when basting, it is again brushed over with fresh butter or lard, and never with any liquid of any kind. When done, the surplus grease is poured from the meat pan, 3 or 4 tablespoons of hot water are put in the pan and, when this boils, the pan is well scraped and this gravy is strained over the carved meat, and mixes with the juice which has escaped from the meat when carved. The French never thicken the gravy with flour, nor do they use the bottled or tinned flavourings which the English housewife seems to think indispensable, but which completely destroy the flavour of the meat.

It is an error to imagine that French mutton and lamb are inferior to English meat. Their pré-salé is equal to any, especially in certain parts of France.