Note: This is the first of two lamb dishes that made the cut. And both happen to have originated from cookbook author Patricia Wells. We couldn't decide between them, so we included each recipe. Ironically, this one turned up when we were looking for recipes that didn't work. When Kathie Jenkins was researching her August cover story "The Trouble With Cookbooks," several people, including an important cookbook editor, complained about this seven-hour leg of lamb from Wells' "Bistro Cooking" (Workman Publishing). "Cooking a leg of lamb at 425 degrees for seven hours is insane, not to mention it will blow up your oven," griped one of the critics. As Jenkins wrote at the time, "We thought the method sounded ridiculous too--it seemed that if you were going to cook a lamb for seven hours, at least you should do it at a lower temperature. We knew we had a sure-fire loser.
"We were wrong. The recipe turned out to be one of the best we've tested so far this year. And we never had to turn the oven temperature down once. The lamb was tender and full of flavor, and the tasters in The Times Test Kitchen couldn't get enough."
6 medium onions, quartered
6 carrots, peeled and quartered
1 head garlic, separated into cloves and halved
6 bay leaves
1 bunch fresh thyme or 3 to 4 teaspoons dried
1 (6- to 7-pound) lamb leg, bone-in
Freshly ground pepper
2 (750-milliliter) bottles dry white wine, such as Aligote
5 pounds large boiling potatoes, peeled and quartered
5 tomatoes, peeled, cored, seeded and chopped
Layer onions, carrots, garlic, bay leaves and thyme on bottom of nonreactive covered roaster large enough to hold lamb. Place lamb on top of onion and carrot mixture. Roast, uncovered, at 425 degrees 30 minutes. Remove roaster from oven. Generously season lamb to taste with salt and pepper. Return to oven and roast 30 minutes more.
Remove roaster from oven, leaving oven on. Place roaster on top of stove, slowly pour wine over lamb, cover, and bring liquid to boil. Return roaster, covered, to oven. Roast 4 to 5 additional hours until lamb is fork tender, but not yet falling off bone. (Timing will vary according to size and age of lamb and type of roasting pan used.) Check on lamb from time to time, reducing oven heat if lamb begins to burn or liquid begins to evaporate too much.
When lamb is fork tender, bury potatoes and tomatoes in liquid. Cover and roast until potatoes are cooked through, about 1 hour more. Lamb should now be very tender, still juicy and falling off bone. Makes 12 servings.
Each serving contains about: 530 calories; 141 mg sodium; 95 mg cholesterol; 20 grams fat; 47 grams carbohydrates; 32 grams protein; 1.94 grams fiber.