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Recipe Trialling: Stuffed Leg of Lamb

Submitted by Vettoria di Gio... on November 27, 2011 - 1:08pm
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By Lady Caterine de Vantier

This is the main meat dish that I want to serve at the Canterbury Faire feast next year. Although I had a fairly good idea that it would work, I wanted to try it so that I could check volumes of ingredients ahead of time. This particular recipe appealed to me as it is gluten free without any adaptations needing to be made.

Braised Stuffed Leg of Lamb from Scappi, II.69 p170

Scappi actually calls for a wether's leg to be used - I doubt my bought leg of lamb was from a wether, but you work with what you have. I bought mine pre-boned; it actually turned out to be already stuffed so I removed the stuffing and rinsed the leg thoroughly to get rid of any traces of gluten that may have been clinging to it.

I cut away some of the meat from the inside of the leg - about 150g - and put this in the food processor with an equivalent amount of beef fat. Scappi calls for pork fat, but I didn't have this on hand. I think this would help to give the stuffing a slightly stronger flavour, and will use it next time I make it. To this I added 50g of prosciutto, three or four garlic cloves, and a small handful of raisins, all of which had also been processed in the blender, a teaspoon each of pepper and cinnamon, and two teaspoons of sugar. I probably could have added an extra teaspoon of cinnamon, and two tablespoonsful of sugar, as when Scappi specifies quantities of these ingredients they are often proportionally strong - however, keeping in mind the tastes of my modern testers, I decided to go slightly light on these. I forgot to add the saffron, but would be inclined to add up to half a gram of this. In terms of herbs, I decided to add parsley, mint, oregano, and fennel. I would be more inclined to use marjoram over oregano as it is slightly sweeter, but the combination worked overall.

Not having rose vinegar, I combined together rosewater and vinegar and splashed the inside of the leg well with it. I sprinkled on another teaspoon each of pepper and cinnamon, and a couple more of sugar. I then wrapped the stuffing inside the leg tightly and put it in the pot. I didn't have any cord to tie or sew it with, and although it stayed well wrapped to cook, it was consequently difficult to take out of the pot and immediately went to pieces upon slicing.

I used a commercial beef broth with more beef fat added to it to cover the leg, about a half cup of verjuice, more cinnamon, pepper, and sugar, as well as some cloves (Scappi calls for "common spices"), a couple of handfuls of prunes and a handful of tart cherries. The cherries I had bought dehydrated, so had rehydrated them with a bit of hot water first.

I cooked the whole lot covered in the oven at a moderate 180°C for a couple of hours, then took it out and rested the meat on a chopping board for ten minutes prior to serving.

My testers all really enjoyed the lamb. Parts of the lamb were slightly rarer than others, which suited the selection of diners nicely as everyone got a portion that they were happy with. Everyone commented on the moistness of the meat, which I think was part of the beauty of cooking it in the broth. Serving it with the broth over would just make it even moister, and the broth would be particularly delicious to sop up bread with. The lamb also worked well with the Rice & Cheese dish I had tried, although I won't be serving it with this at the Canterbury Faire feast. One comment was that there could perhaps have been more stuffing: I ended up with just over 300g of stuffing in the leg. I could potentially add a little more, but not much as otherwise it would be hard to encase it with the leg meat.

As so many meat recipes call for the meat to be spit roasted, it was nice to find an option that was actually designed to be cooked in a pot, rather than the usual compromise of baking the meat in the oven instead of spit roasting. And it was really nice to find a stuffing recipe that was free of gluten. I was a little surprised at the lack of cheese and eggs in the stuffing, as these would both be likely common ingredients for a stuffing - but given the richness of the other dishes I was trialling, and what I intend to serve at the Canterbury Faire feast, having a dish without these in it made a nice change, and it was perfectly flavoursome without the cheese.