Sunday, January 9, 2011

A French Feast - Slow Roasted Leg of Lamb, Ratatouille & Moelleux au Chocolat

There are two influences for this delicious meal. The main reason being re-creating my last lunch in France, the other reason being to use my new Staub Cocotte.

ooooh look how pretty she is!

For my last day in Provence, my boyfriend’s aunt cooked a beautiful meal of slow roasted lamb shoulder with ratatouille. The meat was succulent and the ratatouille was bursting with flavour. I was so fond of the meal that I wrote it down in my holiday diary (which was mostly filled with food memories).

Ratatouille is a traditional French Provençal stewed vegetable dish, and one that I had never tried before (probably because of my slight aversion to eggplant, capsicum & zucchini). It features the vegetables you'd be likely to find in a summer garden: Aubergine (eggplant), Courgette (zucchini), Poivron (Capsicum), and tomatoes as well as fresh provençal herbs such as thyme and basil. There are so many differing ways to prepare it, some saying that each vegetable should be cooked separately, but most French households wouldn’t bother doing it this way. The way I prefer it prepared (which is also the way it was done by my boys aunt) is stewed for slightly longer (say 40-45 mins) and with a little more tomato.

For my version the lamb, I used a leg and flavoured it with garlic, rosemary & thyme. I slow roasted it for 2 ½ hours, but was terrified that it would come out chewy and tough, unlike the succulent meat-falling-off-the-bone version I had it France. I was elated to find that it was juicy and just like the one in my memory.

To finish off my home-made French foodie experience, I made the ever popular Moelleux au Chocolat (otherwise known as chocolate fondant pudding). The recipe I used was actually from a Koko Black flyer which I had lying in my to make pile. To cut through the richness of the cake I served it with a raspberry coulis and vanilla bean ice cream. This dessert also has the added benefit of being made in advance (min 2 hours) and kept in fridge until you are ready to bake it.

It was a perfect meal if I do say so myself. Apologies too for the dodgy night times photo's.

Slow Roasted Leg of Lamb
1.7kg leg lamb
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp sea salt
4 cloves of garlic – one of them sliced, the rest just cut into quarters.
A few sprigs of fresh rosemary and thyme.

Preheat oven to 180C.

Place lamb leg in a roasting tin and rub salt and the olive oil over the meat. Using a small knife pierce the meat to create some pockets (about 10 or so) and push the sliced garlic and a little rosemary into the meat. Scatter the remaining garlic, rosemary and thyme around the lamb and add 1 cup of water to the roasting dish.

Roast in the preheated oven at 180C for 1 hour. Remove roasting tin from oven, add another cup of water, cover the lamb with aluminium foil, return to oven and cook for 1 more hour.

Remove foil and cook for further 30 minutes or until the lamb is almost falling off the bone. Carve up and serve.

1 large red onion, sliced
3 cloves of garlic, crushed
1 large red capsicum, cut into 2cm squares
1 medium eggplant, cut into 2cm cubes
1 large zucchini, cut into 2cm cubes
2 x 400g can of diced tomato’s (you can use fresh, I just prefer the taste of the canned ones)
Few sprigs of fresh thyme

Heat some olive oil over a medium heat in a heavy based saucepan (I used my Staub French Oven).

Add the onion and cook for 2 minutes. Add the garlic and capsicum and cook for a further two minutes. Reduce the heat if the vegetable start to brown.

Add the rest of the ingredients, turn down heat and cover the pot. Simmer until everything is soft and well blended, stirring occasionally - about 40 minutes.

Season with salt and pepper before serving.

Moelleux au Chocolat
60g caster sugar
2 eggs
2 egg yolks
100g unsalted butter
100g dark chocolate
50g plain flour, sifted

Lightly brush 4 ramekins (150 - 200ml capacity) with softened butter and dust with cocoa powder. Place them on a baking tray and put them in the fridge whilst you make the batter.

Using a whisk, gently mix together the eggs and sugar. Be careful not to incorporate too much air.

Melt the butter and chocolate in a heat-proof bowl over simmering water. Remove from the heat and add to the egg mixture and gently combine. Lightly fold in the flour ensuring there are no lumps.

Place 100g of the batter into each ramekin (this ensures that all the ramekins are equal and will cook at the same rate). Cover the ramekins with cling film and place in the fridge to rest for 2 hours.

Pre-heat the oven to 190c (fan forced) and place the puddings straight in the oven and bake for 13 minutes (I found this too long, so will reduce the time next time)

To test if the Moelleux is ready, it should be slightly firm and spongy on top, with a cake-like appearance around the edges.

Serve the Moelleux in the ramekin or turn out onto a serving plate with vanilla ice cream and the raspberry coulis.

Raspberry Coulis
250g frozen raspberries
2 tbls caster sugar

Place frozen Raspberries and sugar into a saucepan. Stir to combine. Heat, stirring often, over medium heat until bubbling. Reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes or until berries are very tender. Using a spoon, crush raspberries until pureed.

Remove from heat and set aside to cool. Pass Raspberry mixture through a sieve to strain. Discard seeds

1 comment:

  1. The entire meal sounds divine. I'd kill for some slow cooked lamb and ratatouille right now mmm...