I can’t believe that this is the first time that I have cooked lamb for this blog! I absolutely love it, and there is nothing better than a roasted leg of lamb filling the house full of amazing smells on a cold Sunday afternoon. To be honest though I don’t really eat that much red meat on a week to week basis; as I’ve said before on this blog, good meat is pricey and always a treat, and I’d rather eat better quality meat less often and vegetable-based dishes the rest of the time. It has to be said though, I work opposite an amazing fishmongers, so when payday comes around I have often earmarked a fish or two to buy before even thinking about anything else.
At this time of year though, lamb in particular comes into it’s own and I couldn’t resist ordering some from my local butchers. Purists will say that spring lamb is best, but for me lamb that is a little older holds much more flavour yet can still be soft and tender. Living in Stoke Newington, I am really lucky to have a great butcher just around the corner in the shape of Meat N16. Although still relatively new, they have already won awards and are always really friendly when I have shopped there. More importantly, the meat is great quality. There are a number of different lamb cuts that suit a variety of cooking methods, and for this recipe I decided to use the rump. This cut is off the bone and is cooked in a similar way to a steak; crusty on the outside and pink and tender in the middle.
The carrots stand side by side with the lamb as stars of this dish. I have recently seen purple and yellow carrots in my local greengrocers and have been eager to do something with them. Often carrots are just boiled to death and plonked on the side of a meal to add a bit of colour, but I wanted to try and make them more interesting and stand up in their own right. Making them different textures and flavours might seem like unnecessary work, but each part adds to the finished dish.
The rest of the flavours and ingredients in this recipe; the beans, anchovies, mint and red wine are all classic accompaniments to lamb. There is quite a lot of acidity in this dish from the use of lemons, but these help cut through the fattiness of the lamb and the sweetness of the carrots. As with anything it’s all about everything working together and the flavours balancing.
Although lamb stock isn’t that widely available, it’s dead easy to make and really worth it. Even using the leftover bones and scraps from a sunday roast with some root vegetables and water will produce something delicious. Failing that, good chicken stock can be used as a substitute.
Don’t be put off with the amount of butter needed for the confit carrots. This is all used to make the clarified butter, and hardly any of this finds it’s way into the finished carrots. It’s mostly just to make sure the carrots are fully covered whilst cooking. Do not discard the clarified butter once finished, it can be used to make lovely roast potatoes!
1 lamb rump, approx 400g, sliced into 2 pieces
For the purple carrot and anchovy puree:
2 purple carrots, peeled and chopped into 1” pieces
3 anchovy fillets
1 lemon, juice only
1 tsp butter
Salt and pepper
For the flageolet bean puree:
400g (or 1 tin) cooked flageolet beans
1 large handful mint, leaves picked
1 handful watercress, washed
1 - 1 1/2 lemons, juice only
1 tbsp olive oil
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
Salt and pepper
For the confit carrots:
6 carrots, 2 of each colour if using, trimmed and peeled to an equal size
2 garlic cloves, crushed
3 sprigs thyme
Salt and pepper
For the carrot crisps:
3 carrots, 1 of each colour if using
Vegetable oil for deep frying, about 1ltr
For the red wine sauce:
2 glasses red wine
500ml lamb stock
1 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp butter
Salt and pepper
The first thing to make are the confit carrots. Heat the oven to 80ºC. Put the butter into a saucepan and cook on a medium heat, without colouring, until the butter has separated. Strain the butter through kitchen paper (you may have to be patient with this) and discard the solids caught in the paper. Put the peeled and trimmed carrots into a small, deep oven dish with the thyme, garlic and seasoning and cover with the clarified butter. Put into the oven and bake for around 2 hours, or until just tender. This can be done in advance and reheated when serving.
To make the flageolet bean puree, bring a small saucepan of water to the boil. When hot, drop in the mint and watercress and blanch for ten seconds before removing to a bowl of very cold water. Squeeze out the excess liquid when cool and transfer to a food processor with the flageolet beans, garlic, oil, lemon juice and salt and pepper. Blitz until very smooth, then taste and add more seasoning or lemon as needed. Pass through a fine sieve and set aside.
For the purple carrot and anchovy puree, bring a small saucepan of salted water to the boil. Add the chopped purple carrots and cook until tender, about 6-8 minutes. Drain well and transfer to a food processor with the anchovies, lemon juice, butter and seasoning, and mix until very smooth. Taste and adjust the seasoning if needed. Pass through a fine sieve and set aside.
Now make the carrot crisps. Using a speed peeler make long shavings across the middle cross section of the carrots. Heat up the frying oil in a medium - large saucepan until it reaches 140ºC, then fry the carrot shavings in small batches for a minute or two until crisp. Transfer to kitchen paper and drain well, then sprinkle with a little salt.
To make the red wine sauce, put a dry medium saucepan on a moderate - high heat. When hot, add the red wine and allow to boil and reduce by half. Pour in the lamb stock and add the sugar and a little seasoning and allow to reduce right down until the sauce starts thicken and becomes shiny. Be careful not to reduce it too much at this point or the sauce will become bitter. Taste and season.
Pre-heat the oven to 190ºC (fan).
For the lamb, heat up a heavy non-stick saucepan to a high heat. Season the lamb well on all sides and rub with a little oil. Fry the lamb for a minute or two fat side down until golden brown, then seal the rest of the meat for 20-30 seconds on each side. Transfer to an oven tray and cook in the oven for 9-10 minutes for medium-rare lamb. Use your fingers as you would with steak to test how the meat is cooked inside. Move the cooked lamb to a chopping board, cover with foil and allow to rest for about 10 minutes.
While the lamb is resting, heat up the confit carrots, the sauce and the the purees (very gently). Add the butter to the sauce and stir well until incorporated. Check the taste and seasoning again.
To plate up, spoon some of the flageolet bean puree onto the middle of the plate and arrange 2 thick slices of the lamb on top. Add a bit of the purple carrot puree on the side, arrange the confit carrots around and spoon over some of the sauce.