I just want to remind you about this wonderful combination of flavours, while all the ingredients are in season. I have posted this before but it is such a great dish for September. This is one of my absolute favourite harvest recipes, and one of the best pictures Katerina Kalogeraki took for my book and blog.
FOR 8 - 10 PEOPLE
1 onion 1 carrot olive oil 1 leg of lamb, about 2 kg (4 lb)
fresh figs (white or black), about 1 per person
white grapes, about 500 g (1 lb) fresh walnuts, about 500g (1 lb) a few juniper berries
2 glasses of red wine tinfoil/aluminium
Preheat the oven to gas mark 4, 350°F, 180°C.
Peel and chop the onion and carrot.
Heat a little oil in the casserole - choose one which is just big enough for the lamb and for the other ingredients to fit round it.
Season the lamb with salt and brown in the oil with the onion and carrot. Turn from time to time so all sides are sealed in the heat - it will take about 20 minutes.
Wash the figs and grapes. Roughly chop the figs. De-pip the grapes, if you so wish.
Crack the nut shells and remove the walnuts, peeling off as much of the bitter skins as possible. Chop them roughly. Add all to the casserole round the lamb. Add the juniper berries and the red wine.
When the wine comes to the simmer, put a layer of tin-foil/aluminium and the lid so it is well sealed.
Traditionally a flour and water paste was used to seal the lid. Should you wish to do this, here are the instructions: In a bowl put 500 g (1 lb) plain flour and stir in about 300 ml (10 fl oz) water. As an example, this amount will be enough to seal the lid of a Le Creuset oval casserole size H. Mix to a stiff paste (best done with the hands, a messy but quite pleasant business - a good moment to involve a child). Put the lid on the casserole. Off the heat press the paste all round the edge.
Put the lamb into the preheated oven and leave for 2 1⁄2 hours.
When the time comes to serve the lamb, if you have made a paste, now is the time to chip it off being careful to remove it all before opening the lid in case some falls in.
Let the lamb rest for 10-15 minutes in a warm place before carving it and arranging it with the fruit and nuts and its sauce of red wine and cooking juices in a deep serving dish.