Tasting Menu 2014

…and the votes are in, and this year’s lucky winners are…

Tasting Menu 2014

Rolled out in anger for the first time this year on Wednesday next week (26th), so expect pics then.


Three Ways With Lamb

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASince I’ve been offline for a year, there are a handful of delights ‘from the archives’ that I’ll trot out from time to time. This is one such.

Not from the aphrodisiac category (although there is something slightly sensual about any melt-in-the-mouth, slow-roasted meat), this was a straightforward catering gig.

It started life as a local Brittany salt-marsh lamb. One rack and one leg, to be precise. Incredibly expensive (around four times the cost of the equivalent, frozen, New Zealand lamb, despite coming from just up the road), these blighters are bred on the marsh lands around the glorious Mont Saint-Michel. The taste and texture difference is remarkable, and well worth the price. There are similar salt-marsh lamb breeds available from butchers in the UK, and I’ve even seen some at a farmer’s market in New York City.

So to kick off the show, I slow-roasted the leg, halfway covered in a mix of lamb stock, rosé wine, rosemary and garlic, at 140 degrees (275 degrees in old money) for a whopping great 6 hours (covered in foil for all but the last hour), in order to make that melty ragout of lamb (which is probably my favourite part of this dish). When it’s done, it just falls off the bone with the slightest touch of a fork, yum!

The rack I chopped into cutlets and French-trimmed, before coating them (the usual – cover them in flour, then a beaten egg with a little milk, and then the crumbs) in a crumb of sweet brioche breadcrumbs (I blitzed a couple of croissants), and fresh mint, shallots and parsley, before pan-frying them for a few minutes either side so that the meat remained pink and tender.

Finally, that’s a kofte kebab, or, more accurately, my take on a Turkish mezze called ‘lady’s thighs’. Some of the meat from pretty much anywhere (I took a big chunk from the leg before roasting it, and all of the meat from one cutlet) is blitzed with fresh coriander, garlic, onion, a little sweet red pepper, a whole egg and a hefty pinch of turmeric. Then I rolled it with some bulgar wheat (cous-cous could substitute) into a fat meatball, skewered it and flame-grilled it (on a barbecue) – delicious!

For the full servings, I served the three ways over some truffle mashed potatoes (using the age-old Escoffier mash recipe – equal portions potato to butter!), with butter-braised baby carrots, balsamic-braised mini white (or ‘cocktail’) onions and a (cold) mango, mint  & white rum purée.

All in all, it was quite a success, and I’ll doubtless be re-visiting it as a standby special in the weeks to come, if salt-marsh lamb makes an another appearance at my local weekly market.