WanderSups: 'Lamb for Easter? Groundbreaking. . .'
“The richness of the lamb shoulder is complemented by the delicate puree and with the finishing of the tarragon oil, loaded with flavours of anise, sheer magic happens. . .” To celebrate the arrival of spring, Hannah Gregory shares her MasterChef lamb dish
Lamb… for Spring? Groundbreaking. Points to all who can name the film - but that is not why we are here.
Call me a traditionalist, but lamb always makes an appearance on my table in some guise at this time of year and this particular rendition is sure to wow anyone it is popped down in front of.
It makes a fantastic starter for a dinner party or a Sunday lunch, or reduce the size of the bonbons and serve as canapes - perfect little deep-fried balls nestled on a bed of creamy cauli puree are sure to win you all the host(ess) with the mostess accolades.
I also love it as a side dish to a roast dinner - why choose between pink or slow-cooked meat when you can have both?
This recipe has had quite the evolution over the last few years. I served it as a component of my restaurant dish on MasterChef - OK, it was the dish that got me kicked off but let's not dwell on that. John Torode did say had I just served this rather than all the other gubbins on the plate I would have gone through to the next round, so there you go.
Since getting booted off (still not bitter), I refined and refined this recipe to get it to near perfection, if I do say so myself. These bon bons have been the guest of honor at many a private dining event and there will always be a bag of these chaps in my freezer, ready to be pulled out whenever I need to chuck together a quick but impressive meal.
Lamb and cauliflower is one of the most perfect flavour pairings but sometimes overlooked. Here the richness of the lamb shoulder is complemented by the delicate puree and with the finishing of the tarragon oil, loaded with flavours of anise, sheer magic happens.
This is a long cook so you will need to begin ahead of time. I make the oil a couple of days in advance as the longer it has to strain, the more you will get. It lasts forever so you can make this well in advance. For the lamb we’re talking about six hours cooking plus cooling and firming up time.
Lamb & Tarragon Bonbon, Cauliflower Puree & Tarragon Oil
Makes: 4 large bonbons or 8 small
Tipple of choice: Rioja works well here
What you need:
For the bonbon:
1kg lamb shoulder
1 bunch fresh rosemary
6 shallots peeled and quartered
2 carrots quartered
2 sticks celery halved
1 leek quartered
500ml lamb stock
½ bunch of fresh tarragon
1 cup plain flour
1 cup panko bread crumbs
1 tbsp dried tarragon
Salt and pepper
For the cauliflower puree:
Half head cauliflower
80g unsalted butter
Pinch fine salt
For the tarragon oil:
½ bunch fresh tarragon
½ cup olive oil
How you do it:
1. To make your oil, bring a small pan of water to the boil. Throw your tarragon in and blanch for 30 seconds. Remove the tarragon from the boiling water and plunge into ice water.
2. Once cool, remove the tarragon from the ice water and squeeze out as much water as possible.
3. Add to a small blender with the olive oil and blitz till smooth.
4. Line a funnel with a coffee filter and pour in the tarragon oil mixture. Set the funnel above a bottle or cup and allow the oil to collect over 24 hours.
5. Preheat the oven to 140C.
6. Heat a glug of olive oil in a large casserole dish or roasting pan. Season the lamb shoulder with salt and pepper and sear all over.
7. Remove the lamb making sure the rendered fat stays in the pan, throw the shallots, carrot, leek and celery into the pan - cook for a couple of minutes until the veg start to take on some colour. Chuck in the rosemary and pop the lamb on top of the veg.
8. Pour the stock and Madeira into the base of the pan, cover and pop into the oven for 6 hours or until fork tender. Check every so often, topping up with boiling water if needed.
9. Remove the lamb from the oven and allow it to come to room temperature.
10. When cool enough to handle shred the lamb, discarding any fatty bits.
11. Finely chop the tarragon.
12. Put the pulled meat in a food processor with the tarragon, a dash of cream and a couple of tablespoons of the lamb stock that remains in the pan. Pulse once or twice until just combined.
13, Roll the lamb mixture into balls and pop in the fridge to firm up for a couple of hours or overnight.
14. To make your cauliflower puree, roughly chop the cauliflower and put in a saucepan with the butter and about 2cm of water.
15. Cover with a lid, bring to the boil and then reduce the heat to allow it to steam until the cauliflower is tender.
16. Put the cauliflower and any remaining liquid into a blender with a pinch of salt and blend till smooth.
17. Pass through a sieve for extra smoothness.
18. Set up three bowls - one with plain flour, one with a beaten egg and one with the panko breadcrumbs mixed with the dried tarragon.
19. Remove your lamb balls from the fridge and one by one dredge in the flour, then the egg, then the breadcrumbs.
20. Heat oil in a deep fat fryer or high sided saucepan to 180.
21. Allow the breadcrumbed bonbons to sit for a further 30 minutes.
22. Fry your balls for about 7 minutes until golden brown.
23. To plate, spoon some cauliflower into the centre of a plate, sit the bonbon on top and drizzle the oil around the plate.
A former BBC MasterChef quarter finalist, Hannah hosts WanderSups supper clubs, “serving meals created with love, inspired by journeys around the world, dished up on home turf”. Her ethos is simple - have fun, enjoy it, make it an occasion. To find out more follow @WanderSups or visit wandersups.com.
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