Sunday, 29 June 2014

Jersey Royal and Vitelotte potatoes with burnt spring onion mayonnaise, pea puree, garden leaves and lamb sauce

With Jersey Royal season in full swing, I thought that it was about time that I created a dish with them as the focus. Too often I lazily turn to a piece of meat or fish and then pick a couple of nice accompaniments to go with it. Nothing wrong with that, but with seasonal vegetables being so good at the moment they deserve a share of the spotlight. The problem is, to be bluntly honest, unless it’s chipped or a baked I very rarely use potatoes in my cooking. I can take or leave mash most of the time, and prefer the lightness that their absence gives a dish. I’m certainly not about start spouting on about how to bake the perfect potato… So I’m not normally all that inspired by the humble spud, but recently in my local greengrocers I noticed a box of tiny little baby Jersey Royals and somewhere in the back of my head a lightbulb pinged on. 

I’m very fortunate to have a small balcony, and this year I’ve been taking full advantage and have gone to town in my attempts to grow some veg. I’m hardly Alan Titchmarsh, or Charlie Dimmock for that matter, so this sort of thing didn’t come naturally at all. Plenty of desperate phone calls to my extremely green-fingered parents followed (“how often do I need to water them?!...”). But so far I’ve been loving it, and touch wood, my courgette, pea, radish, tomato and cucumber plants seem to be thriving. I’ve also planted leaves like rocket and nasturtiums on my window ledge, trying to cram as much into every bit of space possible. So I’ve been very inspired by what I’ve been growing, and when it came to this dish it was lovely to be able to harvest a few bits and pieces and eat them within minutes of picking.
This time meat is used purely as a background ingredient that just helps to bring everything else together. The dish would be perfectly good, and vegetarian, without its inclusion, but my idea here was to create a taste similar to that of a roast dinner; using the potatoes as a sponge to soak it all up. The best thing about using meat in this way is that you usually don’t even need to pay for it. A trip to my local butchers had me returning with a big bag of lovely lamb bones. There’s so much flavour in any bones, scraps or offal that you can pick up, and they are far superior to just crumbling in a stock cube.
Serves 2
For the Jersey Royals:
12-14 baby Jersey Royal potatoes, washed 
350g duck fat 
2 garlic cloves 
1 bay leaf 
5 sprigs of thyme
For the Vitelotte potatoes:
6 Vitelotte potatoes, washed 
30g butter 
1 lemon, juice only
For the burnt spring onion mayonnaise:
5 spring onions 
2 egg yolks 
1 garlic clove 
1 tbsp white wine vinegar 
½ tsp Dijon mustard 
250ml vegetable oil 
½ lemon, juice only
For the pea puree:
250g frozen peas 
½ a bunch of mint, leaves picked 
30g butter 
1 lemon, juice only
For the pickled radishes:
2 radishes, cut into quarters 
100ml white wine vinegar 
½ tsp fennel seeds 
10 peppercorns 
1 bay leaf 
1 tbsp caster sugar
For the lamb sauce:
500-800g lamb bones, cut into small pieces 
2 shallots, finely chopped 
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped 
10 thyme sprigs 
1 bay leaf 
1 large glass white wine 
500ml good chicken stock 
20g butter
To finish:
A handful of fresh peppery leaves, I had rocket and nasturtiums

First pickle the radishes. Put the vinegar, sugar, bay, fennel seeds and peppercorns into a small saucepan and bring to the boil. Turn down to a simmer and continue for a couple of minutes until the sugar has fully dissolved. Allow to cool a little, then pour into a small bowl and add the radishes. Allow to steep while you make everything else. 

Heat a griddle pan to a high temperature. Trim the spring onions and roll in a little oil with some salt and pepper. When the pan is hot, cook the spring onions until well-charred on all sides then allow to cool. Transfer the cooked, cold onions to a food processor and blitz really well. Grate in the garlic and add the vinegar, mustard, egg yolks and a good pinch of seasoning. Blitz again for 30 seconds to combine really well. With the motor still running, pour in the oil very slowly until fully emulsified into a thick mayonnaise. Stir in the lemon juice and taste for seasoning before pouring into a bottle and setting aside.
For the lamb sauce, heat a large frying pan or skillet to a medium-high temperature. When hot, add a little oil and brown the lamb bones really well on all sides. Add the shallot, garlic, thyme and bay and sauté for another couple of minutes before pouring in the wine. Bring to the boil and reduce by half then add the stock. Reduce right down until the sauce thickens and about 150ml remains. Strain through a sieve into a smaller saucepan and set aside.
Fill a small saucepan with water and bring to the boil. Add a little salt, and when hot blanch the mint leaves for 20 seconds before transferring to a bowl of very cold water. Bring the water in the pan back to the boil and tip in the peas. Simmer for a couple of minutes until tender, then drain and pour into a food processor. Drain the mint leaves and squeeze out the water then add to the peas with the butter and lemon juice and blitz into a fine puree. Taste for seasoning and lemon, then pass through a fine sieve. Set aside to cool. 

Pour the duck fat into a small saucepan and add the Jersey Royals, garlic, bay and thyme. Heat to a medium-low temperature and cook gently for 15-20 minutes until the potatoes are tender. Scoop out with a slotted spoon and season well with salt and pepper. Keep warm.
For the Vitelotte potatoes, fill a saucepan with cold water and salt well. Add the potatoes, bring to the boil and simmer for 15-20 minutes or until tender. Drain well, slice in half and roll well in the butter, lemon juice and salt and pepper.  

Gently reheat the sauce and whisk in the butter until fully combined.

Dress the leaves in a little olive oil.
Arrange a selection of the potatoes around the middle of the plates. Squeeze blobs of the mayonnaise and pea puree around the middle and sides and place three pieces of the pickled radish on top. Finish with a scattering of the dressed leaves and a little of the lamb sauce.

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