From Nick de Toldi

This “best seller” of the bourgeois dinner parties named “Le gigot de 7 heures”

It is an old recipe that lived a sort of revival in the late 80’s In my opinion it was re-launched by the very clever guy who purchased the original Auberge Ravoux in Auvers sur Oise (where Van Gogh died) and who wanted to serve only “vintage” cuisine. The guy was dutch and very cleverly explored some old cook books and was serving a shortlist of very original and talented good things at very fair price. I haven’t been for a while, I do not know if it has become more a tourist trap.

The mistake to avoid for this dish is to use a too expensive lamb. In France for a leg you get 3 levels of price: 1/ Prime French young lamb, the leg costs around 60 euros. 2./ Imported from Ireland or Scotland probably at 30 euros the same leg. 3/ Imported frozen from New Zealand dropping at 12 euros for the same leg. The most expensive is only for light cooking serving “rosé”. The UK can do both & the NZ ise very good for all sorts of heavily cooked or spiced Tajines, Couscous, Curry, Daubes d’Avignon, Gigot de 7 heures,  etc… (and even for the field grilled open leg as described recently by Marc).

In France, le gigot — the leg of lamb — is popular as a daily restaurant special in neighborhood bistros and as a festive centerpiece for home entertaining. Everyone has a version. Among them are several recipes for a wholly counter-intuitive seven-hour version that a few well-known inns and restaurants prepare. Some cover the lamb while it cooks to braise the meat; others leave it uncovered to slow roast. I tried both and prefer the slow-roasted one. The meat comes out just as velvety soft, but the caramelized surface adds layers of flavor.

This dish can be cooked a day or two ahead and then refrigerated before cutting and serving.  It is nice with polenta or mashed potatoes to soak up the sauce.


  • 1 whole leg of lamb (about 6 to 8 pounds)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 10 cloves garlic, peeled and halved
  • 3 medium onions, halved and sliced
  • 4 carrots, peeled, cut lengthwise and cut into long chunks
  • 4 bay leaves
  • 10 to 12 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 1 bottle sauvignon blanc
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 5 roma tomatoes, diced
  • 15 to 18 small white new potatoes


Rinse and pat dry the lamb and trim off any excess fat and inked markings. Season very well with salt and pepper. Place the garlic, onions, carrots, bay leaves, thyme and wine in a large roasting pan. Add the lamb and refrigerate, covered, overnight, turning once.
Preheat oven to 275 degrees. Remove the lamb from the marinade and reseason it. In a very large pan or cooktop-safe griddle, sear the lamb in the olive oil until brown all over. Place back in the marinade, meatier side up and roast for 4 hours, basting occasionally. Carefully flip the lamb over using a large spoon or tongs on the thick end and holding the shank bone in a wad of paper towels in your hand. Roast an additional 2 hours. Flip the lamb again, and remove the thyme stems from the pot. Skim off any fat from the surface. Add the tomatoes and potatoes and toss well in the juices. Increase heat to 350 degrees. Return to the oven for 1 hour, basting every 10 to 15 minutes. Arrange the lamb surrounded by the vegetables on a platter and shred the meat to serve it.