Leg of Lamb with Potato Gratin

I would call this a $10 mistake, $10 being the price of the lamb. In a moment of feeling like I needed to try a new piece of meat to cook, I picked up leg of lamb at the store, found a recipe in The New York Times cookbook, and gave it a whirl to end up with a very overdone, not browned, chewy leg of lamb. The recipe itself is good, but I opted to make a 1 pound leg of lamb versus the typical 6 or 7 pound lamb most recipes (with advice on cooking it) call for. Most likely, there is good reason to cook the leg of lamb at a higher weight versus the little piece I picked up. However, in my novice attempt to make the lamb, the potatoes turned out great, and I highly recommend following this recipe, in which you place the lamb on the potatoes for the cooking – the juices from the lamb give the potatoes a great flavor. If the occasion arises to make a smaller piece of lamb, I will cook it at a slightly higher temperature, and for only 20 minutes, then pull out and let rest for 15 while the potatoes keep cooking in the oven.

Leg of Lamb with Potato Gratin
New York Times Cookbook, Amanda Hesser

For the Gratin
4 pounds baking potatoes, peeled and very thinly sliced
2 teaspoons salt
4 cups whole milk
Freshly ground black pepper
Handful of minced parsley (I do not like parsley, and omitted)
6 large garlic cloves, finely minced

1 leg of lamb (about 6 or 7 pounds), at room temperature
Salt and freshly ground pepper

For the Herb Crust
2 tablespoons finely minced thyme
2 tablespoons finely minced rosemary
2 cloves garlic
1/4 cup very fine fresh bread crumbs

1. To make the gratin, bring the potatoes, salt, and milk to a boil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally so the potatoes do not stick to the bottom of the pan. Reduce the heat to medium and cook, stirring from time to time, until the potatoes are tender, about 15 minutes. Season with pepper. Remove from the heat and set aside.

2. Heat the oven to 400 degrees. Sprinkle half the garlic (and here the parsley if you keep to the recipe) into a large oval gratin dish, measuring about 16 by 10 inches. Spoon the potato and milk mixture into the dish and sprinkle with the remaining (parsley and) garlic.
3. Carefully trim the fat from the lamb. Season with salt and pepper and place the lamb on top of the potatoes. Roast, uncovered, for about 1 hour (about 8 to 10 minutes per pound). Do not turn the lamb.

4. Meanwhile, combine the ingredients for the herb crust. After the lamb has roasted for about 45 minutes, sprinkle with the herb mixture. When the internal temperature, tested with an instant-read thermometer, reaches 130 degrees, remove from the oven. Let rest for 20 minutes before serving.

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