I used to make the famous Seven Hour Lamb or ‘Gigot de Sept Heures’ the traditional way, as french cooking books teach us, for 7 hours. It was good but somehow a bit dry to my taste. So I decided to try and invest more time in aging the meat in the fridge with garlic and herbs which allows the flavors to develop and than cook it for 4 to 5 hours instead. The result is simply impressive. What is even better about this recipe is that it is probably the easiest to cook main course you can serve for a holiday dinner party, put it in the oven 5 hours before supper and forget about it until your guests arrive. It cooks slowly in a sealed pot and when ready it melts your mount.
3 -3.5 kg leg of lamb
1 large onion finely chopped
20 whole garlic cloves pealed
10 garlic cloves pealed and cut in two (or in four if too big)
20 black pepper corn
3 large carrots, chopped on big chunks
3 fresh rosemary sprigs
3 fresh thyme sprigs
1 bay leaf
1 cup of white wine
salt and ground black pepper
2 Tbs corn oil
To seal the pot:
1 cup of flour
3/4 cup water
Prep the meat: Buy and prep the meat at least 24h before cooking it or ideally 4 days earlier. When buying the lamb, ask your butcher to brake the leg by the joint without cutting it all the way through. This will help you fit it in the pot. Ask the butcher to also remove as much of the fat as possible, leaving only a thin layer of it to cover the meat.
At home wash and pat dry the lamb. Using a knife with a sharp thin blade or a pairing knife, make about 20 one inch deep incisions on both sides of the leg and push one pepper corn and 1 slice of garlic in each hole. Rub the leg with generous amounts of salt and freshly ground pepper and than rub in the oil. Place the lamb in a baking sheet, spread the rosemary and thyme sprigs on top, wrap it tightly with plastic and refrigerate for at least 24 hours or better up to 4 days.
Preheat the oven to 150C/300F
Cook the lamb: Transfer the meat to a large dutch oven or a heavy pot with a lid. Add the onions, carrots, whole garlic cloves, bay leaf, rosemary and thyme, pour the white wine and put the lid on. In a small bowl combine the flour and water and mix until you get a sticky dough. Seal the lid of the dutch oven with the dough, this will ensure that the juices of the meat does not evaporate and escape and will prevent the lamb from drying.
Place the pot in the oven in medium position and cook for 4.30 to 5 hours depending on the size of the leg. If it is just under 3kg take it out after 4:30h, if the leg is larger let it cook for additional 30 minutes.