So here we are again, on The Isle of Man. We regularly move between France and “The Rock” and now it’s “The Rock’s” turn to enjoy our company! However, just before leaving France we went down to Orleans where Muriel (M-D’s daughter) and her family live. Last Saturday was Clémence’s 14th birthday (she’s Muriel’s and Vincent’s elder daughter) and Muriel was entertaining 11 people – their own family of four, the two sets of grandparents and some friends with their 14-year-old daughter.
Now when you are cooking for eleven, it’s essential to reduce the level of complexity to a minimum and Muriel had done exactly that. Her starter course was foie gras which is, of course, pre-packed and just needs slicing. Her dessert was a chocolate brownie cake that Clémence had made, and her main course, and pièce de résistance, was Five Hour Confit of Lamb. This delightful creation left her free to totally chill out and hands-free to do whatever it is women do for hours on end in a bathroom before their guests arrive.
I love recipes that look after themselves. There’s nothing worse when you are hosting a dinner party and you have to keep going to the kichen preparing and checking on stuff. So when Muriel told me she had prepared the main course mid-afternoon and it was slowly cooking without any input from her, I raised my hat to her – particularly when I tasted the result!
Five Hour Confit of Lamb does, genuinely, take five hours to cook, but at a very low heat, and slow cooking is an excellent way to render all the fat out of the meat. The result was a lamb that was so tender, it was like cutting butter. And because all of us round the table are garlic affectionados, Muriel had split 4 full heads (bulbs) of garlic horizontally (still with the skins on), added them to the pot, and simply served these with the meat. Naturally, the lamb was fairly heavily infused with garlic – which suited us all and left us fighting over the garlic that was soft and juicy!
I guess the fact that we helped it all down with a couple of bottles of 1976 Chateau de Cayrou didn’t do any harm, but I genuinely believe that the recipe will “stand on its own two feet” even if you wash it down with Coke or antiseptic mouthwash!
The other benefit of Five Hour Confit of Lamb is that the potatoes are cooked along with the meat. Simply drop everything into a Dutch Oven (a cast iron cooking pot) along with a mixture of common herbs and spices and, five hours later, you have a meal fit for a Prince. Meanwhile, you can catch up on your beauty sleep!
So, after a bit of arm-twisting, Muriel agreed to add the recipe to the site so we can all share. You don’t have to go beserk with the garlic like she did, because six or seven cloves will be enough to infuse a gentle garlic taste that most people will appreciate.
Anyway, now we are back on “The Rock” I may just practise Five Hour Confit of Lamb on some of our buddies! Then I can catch up on my beauty sleep too… after all, I need it more than my daughter-in-law!