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Jan 29, 2007 09:49 AM

Leg of Lamb in a Dutch Oven?

Just got a lovely new heavy enameled dutch oven and thought I'd use the Leg of Lamb I have in the freezer. Any suggestions?

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  1. There was a recipe by Anne Willan for Gigot de Sept Heures, which I cannot post here as it was printed in the LA Times. I tried it as given, even though I had some doubts about cooking lamb in that much liquid, AND starting it from cold, AND without browning the meat first. I was not pleased with the result. There are other versions in other books that use less liquid and which do call for browning the meat after it's garlicked and tied, which is what I'll do next time. If you want the recipe as it was printed, send me an email and I'll send the recipe back.


    1. I've made leg of lamb using dry cooking methods - roasting in the oven or grilling on the gas grill. It's not the type of meat that requires braising; in fact, it's best when served medium-rare, not totally cooked through as a braised meat would be.

      I know you're excited to use your new Dutch oven, but the leg of lamb belongs either in a shallow roasting pan or directly on an oven rack above a roasting pan to catch drippings .

      Lamb shanks, short ribs, or veal shanks (osso buco), on the other hand...

      1. The only way I would cook leg of lamb in a Dutch oven would be cut up into cubes and cooked Indian style, i.e. a spicy stew. Most of Julie Sahni's recipes for lamb call for leg cut up this way. Otherwise I agree with Flavoursgal that leg is best roasted or grilled which you wouldn't do in a Dutch oven.

        3 Replies
        1. re: cheryl_h

          Well, my father-in-law would agree with you; he was aghast to learn that I had prepared a leg of lamb by any means other that roasting, and was not mollified when I told him of the very old French traditions of this dish. (Of course, he was even more upset when I told him I'd braised a tri-tip!)

          The recipe from Anne Willan (who runs the La Varenne cooking school) is very probably an adaptation of the very oldest version of this classic, with its emphasis on the richness of the broth rather than on the succulence of the meat being very medieval. We had a brief and cordial correspondence on this subject, but I'm sticking to my guns both on the necessity of browning the meat and the validity of braising it. A very young baby lamb leg should not of course be treated this way, but a big almost-mutton supermarket leg would be an excellent candidate.

          1. re: Will Owen

            I read the recipe in the LA Times and was sufficiently intrigued to make a copy for my efiles, but I was sceptical. Your results confirm my doubts. If you could find a much older piece of lamb, I agree this recipe might work. I wonder if lamb shoulder would be better suited to this method?

            BTW Paula Wolfert has an excellent recipe for slow-cooked leg of lamb in her book The Slow Mediterranean Kitchen. I made it in December. It calls for the lamb to be put into a very hot oven (450F, I think). The temperature is immediately turned down to around 300F and the leg is roasted until the meat is about 140 - 145F. It produced a leg of lamb which was tender, flavorful (there is a nice marinade) and the same medium-rare doneness all the way through.

            1. re: cheryl_h

              The legs that the How's markets have on sale (just through tomorrow, but they do this frequently) are really hefty, both the butt portions and the whole ones. At $2.49/lb they were running $18-$22 each. Had I been feeling a bit richer I probably would have bought one and given that gigot recipe, suitably modified, another turn.

              There is yet another falling-temperature recipe I have SOMEWHERE and can't find - it's another very oldfashioned French one, because reducing the temperature over a long period of time mimics what happens when they used to put the pot into a wood-fired baker's oven after all the bread had been baked and the temperature begun to fall. It's called (IIRC) "Spoon Lamb", reportedly because that's how you can eat it.

        2. Well. I don't have too much experience with leg of lamb, but I did it once in my crockpot, and I imagine it would translate very well to a dutch oven. I think I followed suggestions from a chowhound thread-- basically it was the lamb, red wine, garlic, rosemary, S&P, maybe a little tomato paste, and I sauteed some mushrooms to throw in at the end. I thought it was really good. But next time I'll try it roasted or grilled as advised above.

          1. spirit, just curious - is your leg of lamb bone-in or boned?