Magazine article Sunset

Provencal Patterns

Magazine article Sunset

Provencal Patterns

Article excerpt

Through the years, I've made no secret of my fondness for Provence in September, where I while away the month with friends over many a memorable meal. Though I don't attempt to cook in Provence style (feeling too laid-back to research recipes while I'm on vacation), I rejoice in the region's ingredients. All month, the fig tree drops soft, ripe fruit. When roasted with tender, mild local lamb, figs and lemons make a wonderful marriage: The heat caramelizes the figs, while thin lemon slices add enough tang to stave off insipid sweetness. By habit I keep notes of my culinary discoveries; they tell me I've repeated this time and again.

Leg of Lamb with Figs and Lemons

PREP AND COOK TIME: About 13/4 hours

MAKES: 8 servings

1 leg of lamb (5 to 6 lb.), fat trimmed Salt

1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves or dried thyme

4 or 5 rosemary sprigs (each 5 to 6 in. long), rinsed, or 2 teaspoons dried rosemary

12 ripe black figs (about 3 oz. each)

2 lemons (4 oz. each)

About 1 cup dry red wine

2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

2 tablespoons sugar

About 1/2 cup fat-skimmed chicken broth

1/4 cup whipping cream or creme fraiche

1. Rinse lamb and pat dry. Sprinkle lightly with salt and set in a shallow 10- by 15-inch pan. …

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