Monday, 19 January 2015

Butterflied leg of lamb with smoked cod’s roe, charred brassicas, sprout tops and lamb dressing

Never has a blog recipe been as seemingly easy as it was this afternoon. That’s not supposed to be a gloat, more sheer surprise. I was really happy with how things went with the langoustine dish that I posted last week, and I must have been feeling inspired as everything fell straight into place when it came to todays cook. I think that sometimes you go on a bit of a roll with the direction that your recipes go in, and during certain seasons some amazing ingredients are readily available, making thinking up recipes easy peasy. I’ll certainly take it while it lasts, as I know well that there’ll also be frustrating times ahead when I’m lacking ideas and inspiration. 

This recipe came about through two split ideas that I decided to merge together. Funnily enough, the thing linking them was the sprouts. I’ve got to admit, I’ve always been a sprout lover and always think that they get such an undeserved reputation every year. They are a really fantastic vegetable and incredibly good for you. Health benefits aside, they’re far more than just that pile of mulch-coloured domes that have been boiled to death on Christmas day. Although I’ll certainly happily eat them that way too. They are totally transformed when grilled and charred, until they start to crisp and blacken. Another great way with them is to slice finely and cook with lardons, leeks, white wine and butter as a base for a simply cooked piece of white fish. And if you can’t be bothered with any of that, just chuck into a curry and they’ll be as good as gold.
Sprout lusting over, sorry about that. Back to the story. I’d been trying to think of a good recipe to use them in for this blog, but always seemed to be lacking a complete dish. I loved the idea of combing sprouts with something salty and punchy, like when combined with bacon, and thought the smokey depth of the cod’s roe would work a treat. But those two ingredients alone didn’t make much of a satisfying supper, which is where the lamb came in. Lamb has often and unfairly been ignored on this blog, and through no bad intention or ill-feeling on my part. I just haven’t got round to cooking with it much recently. So in the back of my mind I was also trying to work on a lamb dish, when the light bulb lit up and I had one of those eureka moments. I had enjoyed eating lamb when paired with anchovies, or as part of a tangy salsa verde, so surely something salty and strong like cod’s roe would achieve a similar outcome? It was a bit of an odd mixture in theory though, and I got some funny looks when describing it to friends. Thank goodness it worked then, as I could just imagine people laughing me off for trying to combine such silly ingredients. I’m really pleased I gave it a try, and when I found myself sitting down surrounded by washing up just picking on cuts of lamb dipped in the cod’s roe I knew it was a winner.
Serves 4
For the lamb:
1 1.5kg butterflied leg of lamb, bones and trimmings kept 
3 garlic cloves, crushed
For the rosemary salt:
5 sprigs of rosemary, leaves picked 
2 tbsp sea salt
For the smoked cod’s roe:
125g smoked cod’s roe 
½ a garlic clove, grated 
½ a lemon, juice only 
1 knob of butter 
2 tbsp olive oil
For the broccoli puree:
1 head of broccoli, cut into florets 
6 sprigs of mint, leaves picked 
½ a lemon, zest and juice 
1 knob of butter 
2 tbsp olive oil
For the charred vegetables:
12 stems purple sprouting broccoli, trimmed 
6 large Brussels sprouts, quartered
A squeeze of lemon juice
For the sprout tops:
A good knob of butter 
4 large sprout top leaves, stems removed, torn into large pieces 
A squeeze of lemon juice
For the lamb dressing:
The roasting juices from the lamb 
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil 
3 sprigs of rosemary

Pre heat the oven to 190⁰C.
Take the lamb out of the fridge at least 30 minutes before cooking.
To make the rosemary salt, put the rosemary and the sea salt into a small food processor and mix well, until both ingredients are combined and finely chopped. Tip into a bowl and set aside.
Heat up a heavy griddle until smoking hot.
Rub a good amount of the rosemary salt, freshly ground black pepper and some olive oil into the lamb and the bones. When the griddle is hot, brown the bones and any trimming on all sides then transfer to an oven dish along with the crushed garlic cloves. Now put the lamb on the griddle and cook for 2-3 minutes on each side, until well browned and starting the char. Place on top of the bones and garlic and roast in the oven for 30 minutes for medium rare, or a little less or more to your taste.
When the lamb is cooked, transfer it to a wooden board and let it rest for 20 minutes. 

Whilst the lamb is cooking, make the smoked cod’s roe puree. Put the roe, garlic and butter into a small food processor and combine until everything is smooth. Add the lemon juice and a bit of seasoning and mix again. With the motor still running, drizzle in the olive oil very slowly. Pass through a fine sieve into a bowl, cover and set aside.
Boil up some water in a saucepan for the broccoli. When hot, add the florets and a sprinkle of salt. Simmer for about 4 minutes, or until tender. Drain and transfer to a food processor along with the mint, lemon zest and juice and the butter and blitz well. With the motor still running, drizzle in the olive oil. Taste and adjust the seasoning if needed. Pass through a fine sieve and spoon into a plastic bottle.
Melt the butter for the sprout tops in a saucepan over a medium heat. Tip in the sprout tops, a little seasoning and a splash of water and cook for a few minutes, until the leaves are just wilted and tender. Squeeze over the lemon juice and remove from the heat. Keep warm. 

Re-heat the griddle pan used to cook the lamb. When very hot, pour in some oil and add the quartered sprouts and sprouting broccoli. Cook for about a minute on each side, or until golden brown. Squeeze over the lemon juice and add a little of the rosemary salt. Keep warm.
When the lamb is resting, put the roasting tray containing the bones, garlic and juices back onto a medium/high heat. Throw in the rosemary sprigs and bring back to the boil. Reduce slightly, then strain into a small bowl. Stir in the extra virgin olive oil. Taste and adjust the seasoning and acidity levels if needed.
To plate up, cut the lamb into thick slices. Spread a tablespoon of the smoked cod’s roe onto the middle of each plate and arrange a couple of bits of lamb and sprout tops on top. Dot around some of the broccoli puree and scatter over a few of the charred sprouts and broccoli florets. Finish with a small sprinkle of the rosemary salt and a spoonful of the lamb dressing.

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