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by Stefan Gates
Leg of lamb is so lean that it works beautifully with this spectacular cooking method. Basically, you encase the meat in a thick layer of oranges, rosemary, and thyme, so that the lamb gets the benefits of both roasting and steaming but doesn't dry out. The resulting meat has a wonderfully fragrant, herbal taste, and although the color of the oranges fades a little during cooking, the dish still looks spectacular when it arrives on the table. I've also made this dish a few times with a lemon crust, which works well, as do satsumas (especially good around Christmas). Spanish blood oranges are particularly good to use when they are in season, because of their intense flavor and color. Steer clear of navel oranges, however, since they have too much pith.
• 1 leg of lamb
For The Crust
• 4 oranges, chopped into chunks
• 8 large garlic cloves, peeled and roughly chopped
• 3 tablespoons fresh rosemary leaves
• 2 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves
• 1 teaspoon salt
For The Gravy
• 3/4 cup white wine
• 3/4 cup chicken stock
• juice of 1/4 orange
Remove the leg of lamb from the fridge and set aside to return to room temperature. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Combine all the crust ingredients in a food processor and process until the mixture has the texture of hummus. Spread a small pool of the paste on the base of a large roasting pan and place the lamb on top of it. Now, spread the rest of the paste all over the lamb until it's completely covered. Cover loosely with foil and roast for 1½ hours (or longer, if you like your lamb well done).
Now, for the gravy: Pour the wine and stock into a saucepan and simmer for 10 minutes, then add the orange juice. Finally, turn the heat off and cover with a lid to keep warm.
When the lamb is cooked, take it out of the roasting pan, place on a board, and cover with foil to rest for 30 minutes. Scrape most of the crust out of the roasting pan, reserving a couple of ladelfuls to use for the gravy. (Don't use burned or blackened pieces, though, since these will make the gravy taste bitter.) Add the wine, chicken stock, and orange gravy to the pan and place over low heat. Stir the reserved crust mixture into the stock a spoonful at a time, tasting each time you add, until you have a good, fragrant gravy. Strain before serving.
After the lamb has rested for at least 30 minutes, carve it at the table and serve with gravy, green beans, and roasted potatoes.
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