Leg of Lamb with Beans and Mushrooms

Makes 6 to 8 servings
Time: 2 hours

Lamb and beans is a classic combination, and while Daniel's preparation essentially follows the traditional patterns, the addition of orange zest, sweet Mousseron mushrooms, and even butter distinguish his version.

While Daniel was working, I joked with him about how simple my [recipe_link slug="too-simple-stuffed-lamb-shoulder"]lamb dish[/recipe_link] was going to be, and he started to look a little annoyed, protesting that he could cook simply, too-he'd just make this and some Chickpea Fries.

The two of these together are simple, and the preparation is fantastic. This is a great dish for a dinner party at which you?re going to serve your best red wine.

Mousseron mushrooms are exotic and fabulous, with a nice, firm texture and a flavor that recalls chanterelles and cèpes (porcini). But they have a short season and are imported from France, so they're not widely available. Substitute shiitakes, as suggested below, or, if you can find them, chanterelles.

1 cup cranberry beans, preferably fresh, or use dried beans
1 stalk celery, roughly chopped
2 onions, quartered (don't bother to peel)
2 carrots, peeled and roughly chopped
Salt and black pepper
1 (5- to 7-pound) leg of lamb, preferably at room temperature
About 1 tablespoon slivered garlic plus 4 whole peeled cloves garlic
1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
8 ounces haricots verts or green beans, trimmed
8 ounces yellow wax beans (or any other string bean, or more green beans), trimmed
1 cup lamb or chicken stock, or use water
2 tablespoons butter
1 shallot, peeled and minced
1 pound Mousseron or other wild mushrooms, brushed clean, or shiitake caps, roughly chopped
1 teaspoon orange zest

1. Put the cranberry beans, celery, and half the onions and carrots in a large pot with water to cover. Turn the heat to high and bring to a boil; skim the foam if necessary. Turn the heat down so the beans simmer. Cover loosely and cook, stirring occasionally, until the beans begin to become tender (quite quickly for fresh beans, an hour or so for dried); add about 1 teaspoon salt, taste, and let the beans sit off the heat in their cooking liquid. Remove and discard the vegetables. (You can cook the beans as much as a day or two ahead of time; store them covered in their cooking liquid in the refrigerator.)

2. Preheat the oven to 425°F and put a large pot of salted water on to boil. Remove as much of the surface fat as possible from the lamb; rub the meat all over with salt and pepper. Use a thin-bladed knife to cut some small slits in the lamb and push a sliver of garlic and pinch of rosemary into each of them. Heat the oil in a roasting pan on the stove over medium heat and when it shimmers, add the lamb. Brown it lightly on all sides, 10 to 15 minutes total, then transfer the pan to the oven.

3. Meanwhile, blanch the haricots verts and wax beans in the boiling salted water. Cook them until just tender and brightly colored, about 3 minutes for the haricots verts and 5 to 7 minutes for the wax beans. Drain well and reserve.

4. When the roast has cooked for 30 minutes, add the remaining onions, carrots, and the whole garlic cloves. Baste the leg with the juices in the pan and return it to the oven. After another 15 minutes, check the internal temperature of the lamb in several places with an instant-read thermometer; when it reaches 130°F (medium-rare), transfer it to a cutting board to rest for at least 20 minutes.

5. Put the roasting pan on the stove over medium heat and add the stock, scraping the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon to loosen any browned bits. Reduce the liquid by half or more, until it reaches a sauce-like consistency; strain and keep warm.

6. Heat the butter over medium heat in a medium skillet and, when it melts, add the minced shallot. Cook for 1 to 2 minutes, stirring, until softened, and then add the mushrooms and orange zest and season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes or so, until the mushrooms are tender and lightly browned. Meanwhile, reheat the cooked beans.

7. Slice the leg and serve with the beans, sautéed mushrooms, and a little of the sauce.