Thursday, April 28, 2011

Melt in the mouth slow braised pressed lamb

Slow braising lamb is not exactly rocket science. Even so, I can hardly claim it’s my own invention. I pinched the idea off a cooking show. Definitely Rupert Rowley’s idea.*

I saw through his fancy-pants cheffery at once. Past the la-di-da herb crust and caramelised onion mousse and sous vide tender loin and poached baby vegetables and aligot (cheesy mash).

A shoulder of lamb, very simply braised on the stove top and then pressed under a weight overnight. Dense, meltingly tender, rich and sticky, reheated in the strained and reduced braising liquid.

Not rocket science. Not even Michelin Starred Science. Just a perfect idea.

After placating Little Chocolate Flavoured P- with the promise of apricot frangipane pie, I commandeered her wood panelled country kitchen. Stripped of complications, glass of wine in hand, I did absolutely nothing for six hours.**

Braising is nothing new. Just time consuming.

Squishing things after they’re cooked is probably not new either. But this technique I despise in commercially produced chicken nuggets and processed hams results in a moist gelatinous and impossibly dense slab of lamb, infused with the braising stock flavours and melt in the mouth succulent.

I craved, no, coveted, this lamb ever since I witnessed it via the magic of television. Worth the wait? Oh G-d yes.

* Hairy Bikers Tour of Britain, Derbyshire Episode. The recipe for the braised and pressed shoulder is unfortunately not included on the BBC website.

** Not, strictly speaking, true. For a little while I surfed the net looking at chocolate art, and I whipped up two frangipane pies, helped Bird with the pomme de terre au gratin AKA potato bake, roasted a leg of lamb, baked some sweet potatoes, made gravy and generally made a mess

Rosemary infused braised, pressed lamb with lamb jus

Boned shoulder of lamb, approximately 1 kg (although size doesn’t matter)
3 medium carrots, peeled and cut in half
1 large brown onion, peeled and cut into eighths
1 medium leek, cut into four pieces
1 bay leaf
2 sprigs rosemary
½ bottle dry red wine*
3 cups good quality beef stock (or a couple of beef bones, roasted in the oven for about an hour)
Kitchen string
Parchment paper (greaseproof paper), cut into a circle just a little larger than the saucepan, and with a 1 cm hole pinched in the centre
Fry pan and medium sized saucepan (just large enough to snuggle fit the piece of lamb)

Using kitchen string, tie the lamb up like a parcel. There is a neat way to do this that is a little like a blanket stitch and a little like a mobius strip (see this Epicurious video). Or, you could just tie it up any old way. This works too. Or ask your butcher to do it.

In a small fry pan, heat a small amount of olive oil. Add the tied lamb shoulder, turning occasionally to brown on all side.

At the same time, heat about 3 tablespoons of olive oil in the saucepan and add the vegetables and herbs. Cook on a medium to high heat, stirring occasionally for about 15 minutes, or until the vegetables are cooked and starting to stick to the pan (but not burning).

When the vegetables are stating to stick, toss in half the wine and scrap around the pan to deglaze all the sticky vegetable sugars. Add the meat into the saucepans and deglaze the frying pan in the same way with the remaining wine, then tip that into the saucepan too. Add the beef stock (or bones) and add water (or wine or stock) to just the top of the meat.

Press the parchment paper onto the surface of the liquid and meat (like a second lid) and then place the lid on the saucepan. Turn the heat the lowest setting, and set to very gentle bubble away for about 5 to 6 hours. Check on it from time to time – make sure it does not dry out or burn onto the bottom of the saucepan, and gentle turn the meat over after about three hours.

When the meat is finished cooking, allow to cool slightly and then remove from the braising liquids and strain over the saucepan. Place onto clean parchment , cut the strings and discard, then wrap up like a Christmas present in the greaseproof paper. Tightly wrap this package in plastic wrap (I went several times around it all).

Place in a bake dish, then cover with another baking dish and then weight the top baking dish (I used a concrete statue of a cockerspaniel. You could use a brick). Leave overnight (food safety would probably dictate in the fridge, but I left it out on the kitchen bench).

Meanwhile, strain the braising liquid and discard the solids. Keep the liquid. That stuff is gold.

To serve: cut the lamb into neat portions. It is very dense and rich, so make them smaller than you think you might want.

In a small frying pan or shallow saucepan, heat a little olive oil and add the lamb portions. Add a few spoonfuls of braising liquid (which by now should have a lovely jelly like consistency), turn and add more liquid as it bubbles and thickens, until all sides of the lamb pieces are richly glazed. Remove the lamb ready to serve. Add addition liquid to make a sauce, heat through until thick enough.

Place lamb onto a bed of pumpkin puree, spoon over some sauce and enjoy.

* For goodness sake, only cook with wine you will drink. It doesn’t need to be great wine, but it does have to be palatable

No comments:

Post a Comment