My sister and I are Franco-English, raised on pink lamb and redcurrant jelly. From an early age, we were taught to loathe overcooked meat and curse those who ate it: “12 minutes per pound of meat, on medium heat, is plenty enough to keep it nice and juicy”. I didn’t know any better until a particular Easter Sunday, 20 years later, whilst living in the French Alps, when I was introduced to my friend Gerald’s own equation, the exact antithesis of my father’s: the more you cook it, the better it tastes. The trick – there had to be a trick – was to roast the lamb without burning it thanks to a miraculous cataplasm of goose fat and honey. Hyper-roasting requires patient basting. I can still picture Gerald standing at the far end of the kitchen with a glass of wine in his hand – Château Lagardine, if I’m not mistaking – smiling at our worried expressions as smoke billowed out of the oven: – Shouldn’t we take it out? – Don’t you dare! Malheureux… Not until it smells irresistible! And he was right, of course… After what seemed like an eternity – for a leg of lamb – two hours or more – long after the honey had turned to caramel and assumed the appearance of molten tar, there it was, all of a sudden, the deeply-buried olfactive memory of the prehistoric hearth: the unmistakeable, unsurpassable aroma of primeval meat, roasted to the core.

And since we’re talking about tannins, they seldom get any more interesting than in Saint-Nicolas-de-Bourgueil’s L’Envolée, the perfect companion for Easter Sunday’s traditional leg of lamb: tightly woven, dense yet silky smooth, they wrap around the wine’s concentrated fruit without overpowering it. An hour in the decanter will loosen them up to perfection.

Gerald’s Roasted Leg of Lamb

– One leg of lamb (3 kg)
– One head of garlic
– Honey (250g)
– Goose fat (250g)

1) take the leg of lamb out of the fridge one hour before cooking and with a fine pointed knife, slice the garlic cloves in two and insert them into the meat.

2) smear the leg of lamb with honey (all over), then with goose fat (concentrating on the top), in that order

3) having placed the leg of lamb in a cooking dish, seize the meat in the oven/closed barbecue at 250°C for a full 30 minutes, without opening it, then reduce heat to 220°C.

4) baste with the goose fat every 15-20 minutes and roast until it smells just right! 3kg should normally take a bit less than 2h30

5) pour yourself a glass of L’Envolée from the decanter, you’ve deserved it.