Gigot d’Agneau aux Figues, Noix et Raisins Blancs

A wonderful combination of flavours, this is a great dish for early September when fresh walnuts and figs are in season.

Leg of Lamb Slow Cooked in Red Wine with Figs, Walnuts and Grapes

FOR 8 – 10 PEOPLE

  • 1 onion
  • 1 carrot
  • olive oil
  • 1 leg of lamb, about 2 kg (4 lb)
  • Salt
  • fresh figs (white or black), about 1 per person
  • white grapes, about 500 g (1 lb)
  • fresh walnuts, about 500g (1 lb)
  • a few juniper berries
  • 2 glasses of red wine
  • flour and water for a paste to seal the casserole (or use tinfoil/aluminium)

Preheat the oven to gas mark 4, 350°F, 180°C.

Peel and chop the onion and carrot. Heat a little oil in the casserole – choose one which is just big enough for the lamb and for the other ingredients to fit round it. Season the lamb with salt and brown in the oil with the onion and carrot. Turn from time to time so all sides are sealed in the heat – it will take about 20 minutes.

Wash the figs and grapes. Roughly chop the figs. De-pip the grapes, if you so wish. Crack the nut shells and remove the walnuts, peeling off as much of the bitter skins as possible. Chop them roughly. Add all to the casserole round the lamb. Add the juniper berries and the red wine.

When the wine comes to the simmer, put a layer of tin-foil/aluminium and the lid so it is well sealed.

Traditionally a flour and water paste was used to seal the lid. Should you wish to do this, here are the instructions: In a bowl put 500 g (1 lb) plain flour and stir in about 300 ml (10 fl oz) water. As an example, this amount will be enough to seal the lid of a Le Creuset oval casserole size H. Mix to a stiff paste (best done with the hands, a messy but quite pleasant business – a good moment to involve a child). Put the lid on the casserole. Off the heat press the paste all round the edge.

Put the lamb into the preheated oven and leave for 2 ½ hours.

When the time comes to serve the lamb, if you have made a paste, now is the time to chip it off being careful to remove it all before opening the lid in case some falls in.

Let the lamb rest for 10-15 minutes in a warm place before carving it and arranging it with the fruit and nuts and its sauce of red wine and cooking juices in a deep serving dish.

The wine

Decanter recommends trying this with a big, robust red wine. Bordeaux from the Cabernet Sauvignon dominant left bank, Australian Cabernets from Coonawarra, Mclaren Vale and Margaret River. Napa Valley, Chilean, Argentinian, South African and New Zealand examples would also work well. Rioja Reservas could also do fantastically well but, as this is in the Rhône section of Rosi’s book, it has to be a Syrah or a Syrah/Grenache blend from Northern or Southern Rhône. Look out for St. Josesh, Crozes-Hermitage, Côte-Rôtie, Châteauneuf-du-Pape and Gigondas. – Harry Fawkes, Decanter.com

Ebook and paperback versions of recipes from the French Wine Harvest are available from lulu.com. The ebook is also available from amazon.com, apple.com and other usual websites.