In the early 20th century it was discovered by workmen that brown paper used to wrap packages for the post can also be used to protect meat from molten bitumen, and it became the custom, at the end of a construction project, to wrap a leg of lamb in brown paper and cook it in the hot bitumen. And the result was rather good.
Today gigot bitume is the star of an annual June festival in Pernay in the Indre-et-Loire. Gigots are first wrapped in several layers of aluminum foil before the layers of brown paper, then plunged into the hot bitumen.
An hour later, they are ready, tender and cooked in their own juices. Sprayed with cold water, the bitumen forms an easy-to-remove crust, and the lamb is ready to serve.
Image by Duch.seb