Herb Gardened Roast Lamb, with Du Puy Lentils; Minikins; Braised Fennel; Sliced Finger; and Potato Paillasson.

Been reading Richard Olney’s Simple French Food, and while he’s no Major Les he does make for a good read as an inspring blend of bile, obsession, and love. Though I’m yet to find the point where he dots the “i” and realises the common trend of appropriation, softening and santisation as culture moves upwards in the social hierarchy (see Rock, Roll and; Ball, Foot). Anyway most of the dishes started there.


One nice looking leg of Cramphorne Edge of Civillisation Saltbush-Fed lamb. It’s always good to adjust a few things to see the effects of changing ingredients but I got out to the herb garden and went mad with the secateurs.

Trimmed most of the fat off and then made finger sized pockets in the roast. I let it marinade in some EVOO, leftover sangiovese, and a splash of sherry.

Next I filled the holes with the herb mix – finely minced rosemary, garlic, parsely, thyme, green peppercorns, and a little sage with a bit of EVOO mixed in. Rubbed a little salt and oil over the roast and then placed it on a bed of quartered leek and lavender. In it went at 190C for 20 minutes and then down to 170C. Continued to baste over the course of the cooking and adding some of the reserved marinade as necessary.


Pumpkins the size of a baby’s fist, made a few vents in the top and chucked them in with the roast, making sure they got a good basting.

Du Puy Lentils

Previous story on these is here . Rinsed and then cooked in enough water to cover with a bacon bone, a bay leaf, and a sprig of parsley. Simmered for 25 minutes.

Braised Fennel

Stalks chopped off, quartered, gently browned in some EVOO with four unpeeled garlic cloves for 30 minutes then placed in a small saucepan with some salt and 2/3 cup of water, covered and left to simmer until the water has reduced to a caramelized syrup.

Potato Paillasson

Thinly slicing some potatoes on the slicer for this and then that feeling of having done something very wrong and looking down at my right ring finger to see a patch of skin missing. Off to the sink to lose a bit of blood and then sitting down with a nonstick dressing and a paper towel wrapped around it. Assistant chefs took over under close unnerving supervision. Potato slices washed and dried then spread in a frypan with some duck fat in it. Covered and cooked until golden underneath and then flipped.

Finishing Up

Roast took a shade under two hours and was rested for 20 minutes under some foil. A quick and easy jus made with a splash of wine and some of the liquid from the lentils. Roast carved and served.

Meat was nicely pale and subtly flavoured by the herbs and well complemented by the veges and lentils. Did the lamb a great justice and the finger will be OK.

Not forgetting drinks. Started with beers including a quite sweet Caledonian Golden Promise organic beer Had a 2001 Mc William’s Hanwood Estate Cab Sav which had a hint of dark caramelly sherbert that I love, did I detect the ghost of a sherry in there as well?

Conversation drifted inevitably to the November elections. Pork gets fork.

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  1. Santos’s avatar

    *wow* guess you are feeling better then.

    gives new meaning to the phrase “giving them the finger” huh

    the paillasson, sir, is that one giant “cake” like a pommes anna or are the potatoes left as individual crispy, fatty slices?

  2. Anthony’s avatar

    Yep yep tickety boo and cheers for the finger joke.

    The paillasson is one giant cake and does also boast crisp fattiness. Mr Olney spent a paragraph bagging his friends for not washing and drying the potatoes to get rid of the starch for this dish so best keep that in mind. Very good and very little hassle if you don’t mind a touch of danger. I’m back to knives.

  3. Jeanne’s avatar

    Mmmmmm. Roast lamb. Got a tiny baby, 2-person roast in the freezer at home that needs cooking. Must have, must have. Interested to see the minikins – back home we have patty-pans, which look kind of like teensy little yellow pumpkins (see http://www.food24.co.za/GlossaryItemDetails/0,10487,1-308,00.html) – wonder if they are related? You say boab, I say baobab; you say minikins, I say pattypans, la la la la….

    Just back from Paris so don’t even talk to me about the pleasures of French cooking. I want to emigrate NOW!! Full report to follow soon in a blog posting!

  4. Anthony’s avatar

    You say “just back from Paris”, I say “you bastard, I just got back from work”

  5. Jeanne’s avatar

    Tsk, tsk, temper!! I must remember to think of a similar retort next time you have proper lamb from dad’s farm, or drive an hour or two to a fabulous boutique winery, or go off to eat crayfish for the weekend… We deserve our little luxuries over here in the Old World now and then. We’re worth it!!

  6. Anthony’s avatar

    Alright alright humble apologies but given the next city’s a two day drive away I do tend to get a wee bit antsy.

  7. Anonymous’s avatar

    have just bought minikins and have the roast lamb in the oven! the bit I particularly took a fancy over was the way you lost a piece of your finger! I just did the same thing with a brand new mandolin, the right corner off my thumb was still in the blade of the mandolin, very sore and quite gross! I guess the tale learnt is that the safety guards are there for a good reason and not just for looks!! lol! great recipe.. :)

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