Blanquette d'agneau


800g stewing lamb, cubed
12 small carrots, peeled
1 large onion, halved and stuck with 1 clove
1 bouquet garni
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
50g butter
50g plain flour
100ml double cream
2 egg yolks
A few drops of lemon juice
Fried button mushrooms, to garnish

My grandfather used to slaughter his lambs himself. It was never very nice to watch. It was only on special occasions, however, that my grandparents would actually think of cooking a leg of lamb. They did not consider it worth serving unless there were seven or eight people to eat it. My grandmother sometimes did cook lamb when we were en famille; then it was served in a simpler form, like this blanquette, which is a soup-like stew.

Put the lamb in a saucepan, add 1.5 litres cold water and bring to the boil. Carefully skim the surface, then add the carrots, onion and bouquet garni and simmer for about 1 hour, until the lamb is tender. Remove the bouquet garni and season.

In another saucepan, melt the butter and stir in the flour with a wooden spoon. Cook gently for 3 minutes to make a white roux, taking care that it does not brown. Slowly add about 1 litre of the lamb cooking stock, stirring gently with a wire whisk until the sauce is smooth.

Drain the lamb and leave it in the saucepan in a warm place. Cook the sauce for another 15 minutes, skimming the surface very frequently. Pour it over the lamb and simmer over the heat for 5 minutes.

Make a liaison by mixing together the cream, egg yolks and lemon juice to taste. Stir into the sauce and cook until thickened, taking great care not to let the sauce boil, or it will curdle. Check the seasoning and serve garnished with button mushrooms

Taken from 'Memories of Gascony' by Pierre Koffmann (Octopus, £30).