Some years ago, we drove from Provence on the French Mediterranean across to Bordeaux on the Atlantic. It didn’t look that far on the map. Famous last words. By the time we covered that long distance, got lost, and found our way again, we were hopelessly late for the cooking teacher who was expecting us for dinner. She was exceptionally gracious. “I’ve made gigot de sept heures,” she said, ”and another hour or two won’t matter.”
Seven-hour leg of lamb, a famous dish in the French repertoire, is a marvel. For those who like their lamb grilled or roasted and pink at the bone, the long, slow method is a revelation. The dish has its origins in a time when homes had no ovens, and housewives took meat to the village baker. A tough leg needed a long time. Modern cooks adapt this recipe by cooking the lamb for four hours, but the full time yields very sweet meat in an intense sauce.
Use some of the lamb and cooking juices to make simple pappardelle the following day. Because the meat is so flavorful, you don’t have anything to do but reheat it and boil the pasta. And if your guests are hopelessly late for either dinner, you are worry-free. Sit on a chair and relax.
SHOPPING LIST (for lamb, pappardelle)
1 leg of lamb on the bone (6 pounds)
2 Spanish onions
4 large carrots
2 cloves garlic
½ bunch fresh rosemary
Few sprigs fresh parsley
Salt and pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup imported canned tomatoes
1 bottle dry white wine
¾ pound pappardelle or other wide noodles
1 bay leaf