Friday, October 16, 2015

Souk-Spiced Leg of Lamb with L’O de Joncier for #winophiles

Welcome to the October event for The French Winophiles, a wine-swilling, food-loving group coordinated by Christy of Confessions of a Culinary Diva. We start with the Regions first and then move to the Appellations. The proposed schedule, based somewhat on the seasons is as follows:

  • June 20 - Loire Valley (click for my post: here)
  • July 18 - Provence or Corsica (click for my post: here)
  • August 15 - Southwest (click for my post: here)
  • September 19 - Languedoc-Roussillon (click for my post: here)
  • October 17 - Côtes du Rhône
  • November 21 - Bordeaux
  • December 19 - Champagne
  • January 16 - Burgundy
  • February 20 - Alsace

To Côtes du Rhône...

Côtes du Rhône literally means 'hills of the Rhône', the river that runs through this region, stretching over 100 miles from Vienne to Avignon, with over 200,000 planted acres. You can see it on the map above, in blue, above Côte d'Azur. Divided into two main sections, Syrah is the dominant grape in the north while Grenache rules the roost in the south. But blends are popular as well and include GSM - Grenache, Syrah, and Mourvèdre. Additionally, the wines from this area are predominantly red.

What the French Winophiles Are Sipping...
"Join our live Twitter Chat Saturday, October 17th at 8 am PST/11 am EST using #winophiles and share your favorite food and wine from the Rhone Region of France.

In My Glass...
I opted for a Grenache from Côtes du Rhône L’O de Joncier. It's a 98% Grenache, 2% Cinsault. In the glass, it wasn't particularly pretty, sporting a dull, muted shade. What it lacked in eye-appeal, it certainly compensated for in aroma. I got lots of berry with a hint of pepper and evergreen.

On My Plate...
For my pairing, I decided to make a roasted leg of lamb that downplayed the fruit and brought the spiciness to the forefront of the wine. I have always loved the pictures from souks where the spices are heaped into earthy-hued mounds. I can just imagine how it would smell. Bliss.

Souk-Spiced Leg of Lamb

  • 3 to 4 pound boneless leg of lamb, trimmed of most surface fat
  • 12 large garlic cloves, divided
  • 1 t ground ginger
  • 1 t ground coriander
  • 1 t ground cumin
  • 1/2 t ground sweet paprika
  • 1/2 t ground smoked paprika
  • 1/2 t ground cardamom
  • 1/2 t ground turmeric
  • 1/2 t ground allspice
  • 1/2 t ground pepper
  • 1 t ground salt
  • 1/4 C fresh parsley leaves, chopped
  • 1/4 C fresh cilantro leaves, chopped
  • olive oil
  • 4 to 5 peppers (I had Corno di Toro from my High Ground Organics CSA)
  • 1 onion, peeled and sliced into wedges
  • 1 quince, sliced into wedges
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 vanilla bean, sliced open lengthwise
  • 2 C red wine

Prepare the lamb a day ahead. Blend together the fresh parsley and fresh cilantro with a splash of olive oil to create a pesto. Spread that inside the lamb, roll it up, and tie it with twine. But six slits into the lamb and press a whole clove into the slit.

In a small mixing bowl, blend together all of the dried spiced and rub them liberally onto the outside of the lamb. Cover and refrigerate overnight.

Three hours before you want to serve the lamb, take it out of the fridge and let it sit for an hour on the counter. In a large pot or Dutch oven, heat a splash of olive oil. Sear the roast on all sides until nicely browned.

Surround the roast with the onions, quince, and peppers. Add in the cinnamon stick and vanilla bean.

Pour the wine over the entire thing and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce, to a simmer, and braise for 90 minutes. Uncover and let lamb stand for at least 15 minutes before slicing.

While the lamb rests, make the sauce. Remove some peppers, onions, quince, and a ladle-full of cooking liquid. Blend until smooth. Adjust seasoning to taste. The sauce ended up being a little sweet, so I added salt and a squeeze of lemon juice to mine.

To serve, slice the lamb across the grain. Pour the sauce over the lamb and serve with whole peppers and quince slices on the side. And, of course, with a glass of L’O de Joncier. Cheers!


  1. What a great pairing! We tried a blend with Grenache this month, but now I really want to try a more fully Grenache to compare.

    1. Can't wait to take a look at your French onion soup! Thanks for stopping by.

  2. What a fantastic pairing - its making my mouth water and I don't even eat lamb! Your description of the wine is appealing and sounds like it complimented your leg of lamb perfectly. Thanks for joining in the fun - I learn so much from your recipe and wine pairings!

  3. I love lamb unfortunately no one else in my family is crazy about it so I only get it when I go out or if it is one of several meats different meats I offer on Easter Sunday. Your recipe sounds perfect.

    1. My boys didn't really care for lamb for many years, but it's grown on them.

  4. OMG...your lamb sounds and looks amazing. Nom, nom, nom! And I'm sure it was a wonderful pairing with your Cotes du Rhone!

  5. I'm curious how spicy the dish ended up? I like those curry spices, but sometimes the dish ends up too spicy for a red wine.

    1. Not too spicy. Or, rather, lots of spice flavor, but not spicy as in hot.