GIGOT D’AGNEAU A LA PROVENCALE (with tomatoes and garlic, for six to eight)
one 7 to 8 pound leg of lamb, aitchbone removed by the butcher and trimmed
2-1/2 pounds plum tomatoes, cut into ¼ inch slices
8 heads of garlic, papery outer skin discarded (head left intact) and tops shaved off
3 fresh rosemary sprigs or 1 teaspoon dried rosemary, crumbled
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, or as needed
1. Place a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat the oven to 450*. Arrange tomatoes in a 17-1/2 by 12 inch roasting pan and place lamb on top. Arrange garlic around lamb. Lay rosemary sprigs on lamb (or sprinkle on dried rosemary), then sprinkle with salt and pepper. Drizzle with 2 tablespoons oil.
2. Set lamb in oven and immediately turn the heat down to 350*. When 45 minutes are up, baste with fat that has accumulated in the bottom of the pan and continue roasting lamb, basting garlic with some of the remaining 2 tablespoons oil every 20 minutes to keep it from drying out.
4. After 1 hour, start testing for doneness. Any leg of lamb from 5 to 8 pounds will take between 1-1/4 to 1-1/2 hours to reach an internal meat thermometer reading of 125* (insert thermometer into the thickest part of the leg – without touching the bone).
120* very rare
125* rosy rare
130* medium rare
140* medium – the official “safe” temperature where all harmful bacteria are killed
5. As soon as the lamb is done, remove it from the oven and place on a carving board or platter. Discard any trussing strings. Let it stand for between 15 and 25 minutes before carving so that its juices can retreat back into the meat. The internal temperature of the lamb will rise somewhat during this process. (If garlic heads are not soft enough, put them back into the oven while the lamb rests.) Stir tomato mixture and transfer to a sauceboat.
6. If the lamb must wait longer still, tent aluminum foil over it to keep it warm. You can use a warming oven, but make sure the temperature does not exceed 120* or the lamb will continue to cook. You can keep it warm for an hour or more
5. Carve lamb and serve with tomato sauce and roasted garlic. Encourage each guest to take a head of garlic, squeeze the flesh out of the skin and spread it on bread or the lamb.
NOTE: If tomatoes are not in season, use a 28 to 32 ounce can of whole plum tomatoes in juice. Coarsely chop the tomatoes and pour the juice over them in the roasting pan.
from The Gourmet Cookbook