A Remarkable Roast For Two – Lamb With Jessi’s Crystal-dusted nuts
“So, turning to the Count, Andrey asked what he thought they should recommend with the lamb. ‘For those who can afford it, the Château Latour ’99.’ The chef and maître d’ nodded. ‘And for those who cannot?’ The Count considered. ‘Perhaps a Côtes du Rhône.’ Picking up his chopper, Emile pointed [at the lamb] and cautioned the Count: ‘Tell your boys that my lamb is served rare. If someone wants it medium, they can go to a canteen.'”
-Amor Towles, A Gentleman in Moscow
It’s sometimes difficult to find roasts which are suitable for just two people. This is an unusual dish which pairs the lamb with caramelised pecans. The inspiration for this mix comes from a genius composition conceived by Rose Prince. The frost-coated pecans were perfected by Jessi after some experimentation, in a moment of crisis (subject of another post).
I also think it’s better if the meat has been marinated overnight, a couple of days even, as lamb can be tough.
This goes particularly well with a mix of tenderstem, butter and strips of endive. Go to this post for more on tenderstem (broccolini).
And what to drink with it? Try, as the Count in A Gentleman In Moscow suggests, a Côtes du Rhône.
Recipe for lamb with pecans
- 750g/1 lb 10 oz lamb neck fillet – NB get the butcher to trim off the fat and get it from a good butcher – it can be fatty and gristly
- 12 pecan halves
- 2 tbsp maple syrup (ideally a dark quality, see maple syrup)
- 1 fat clove of garlic crushed with 1 tsp smoked salt
- ½ tsp Spanish sweet smoked paprika
- about ten grinds of Indonesian long pepper
- 1 tsp dried Greek oregano
- 4 tbsp olive oil
- ½ lime – juice and zest
- 2 medium potatoes – ideally Maris Piper which, although it’s a fluffy potato, is a good all-rounder. Good for chips and this twice-fried method, peeled and thinly sliced
- 80 ml/⅓ cup rapeseed oil
- 2 beef stock cubes
- 1 tbsp dried herbes de Provence (or you could just use more oregano)
- 240 ml/1 cup Waitrose mulled wine, or dry cider, or any other booze you need to use up
- 1 tbsp tomato pesto (this is the best option) or sundried tomato paste
- a few grinds of pepper
- 1 tbsp redcurrant jelly
- 1 tsp mint sauce
- lots of port, or marsala, for marinating
- Marinate the lamb, overnight if possible, in port or marsala.
- First caramelise the walnuts, by putting them in a small, stout saucepan with the maple syrup, stirring, and cooking over a low heat until the maple syrup bubbles gently, evaporates and leaves the sticky walnuts. Leave to cool. Warm gently before eating.
- Mix the garlic, paprika, pepper, olive oil, lime juice and oregano and massage the lamb with this mixture. Cover in clingfilm and leave to marinate as long as you can.
- About half an hour before you’re going to eat, preheat the oven to 210°C
- Dry the potatoes first – dabbing at them with a bit of kitchen paper.
- Fry them gently in the rapeseed oil, already heated in a flat-bottomed wok, for about five minutes. Take the potato slices out with a slotted fish slice or spoon and cool them on kitchen paper.
- Put the lamb on a baking tray and roast for 10 minutes (this gives rare meat. Cook for longer if you want medium – or, if you really want it well done, do as Emile, the chef quoted at the top of this post, and go to a canteen!).
- Meanwhile, once the potato slices are cool, refry. Sprinkle with sea salt. Put on some kitchen paper on a plate and keep warm.
- Take the lamb out, put on a board, and cover with foil – leave to rest.
- Make the gravy by putting the roasting tin on the hob and crumbling in two beef or lamb stock cubes and stir into the juices.
- Add a tablespoon of dried herbes de Provence.
- Add a cup/240 ml of Waitrose mulled wine, or whatever booze you happen to need to use up.
- Stir this in and keep stirring in order to make sure that all the bits which have stuck to the pan during roasting come off and form part of the gravy.
- Add a tbsp. of sundried tomato paste, and a few grinds of pepper. Also the redcurrant jelly and mint sauce.
- Reduce until it tastes how you want it.
- Sieve, or don’t sieve, according to your own taste.
- Serve the lamb with the caramelised walnuts, the crispy potato slices, and the gravy.