Friday, 8 February 2019

Adey's lamb with Parmesan champ and blackberry jus - guest post

The miracle of the internet and social media in particular is that people with like interests can find each other so easily. In the pre internet days (which I do remember), unless your friends liked the same things as you, it could feel a little lonely being unable to share your interests, obsessions and passions. 

I've met many avid foodies, thanks to writing this blog and through being on Twitter. Many of us share pictures of our efforts, and exchange recipes, blog posts, tips, tricks and tomfoolery. 

One twitter foodie friend I am very pleased to have made is Adrian Critten. Adrian loves cooking, but also cycling, rugby and wine. We've had lots of great chats via Twitter about food and cooking. He doesn't quite understand my love of sushi, but I've forgiven him. This, of course, may have something to do with a mutual love of cooking with garlic. And lots of it!

So, I was very pleased when Adrian said he'd love to do a recipe for Snig's Kitchen and that it would be a special romantic one for Valentines' Day. Once upon a time, going out for Valentines' Day used to be something I would look forward to... but then restaurants got wise and started cramming in too many tables for the night and switching menus to a set meal. After a run of disappointing February the fourteenths, Him Indoors and I decided we would only go out on V-day if we were going somewhere where we'd be treated well. Or we would just cook at home.

Many people will want, for their own reasons, to stay in for the evening of the 14th. More power to you all, I say. I am therefore delighted to present Adrian's recipe for marinaded lamb leg steaks with a very posh parmesan and cabbage mash with blackberry jus. Made with love and served with a rich glass of red wine, I don't think you can top it for a cosy romantic evening!

Over to Adey!

Hi - I'd like to start by thanking Snigs for the opportunity to guest on her blog. I'm a total stranger she met on Twitter after one of her chums posted a recipe for chicken and one of my chums liked it. We've been sharing recipes and tips ever since.

I used to work for Oddbins (Wine Merchants) where my love of wine and cooking nice things flourished. One of my big sisters is a chef who gives me the occasional pointer and continues to amaze at the ease with which she can feed a party of twelve. She's won many "Cook and Serve" competitions in her career, assisted by yours truly selecting her vinous companions. My other big sister (I'm so lucky) is a keen gardener, fruit and veg preserver and occasional decorator of cakes. Her jars of Spiced Tomato Chutney, Lemon Curd, and Marmalade are fought over tenaciously at family gatherings.

Tonight's romantic dinner is inspired largely by my own experimentation with flavouring chicken thighs for a Friday night supper. I enjoy robust Mediterranean flavours and have come up with an easy variant of my Weapons Grade Garlic* and Herb Chicken for lamb leg steaks such as you might find pre-packed in a supermarket.

The 'Champ' isn't actually Champ at all, but simply a way of sexing up mashed potato without adding lashings of butter and cream. I'll admit to calling it Champ because it's got cabbage in and brevity**. Possibly laziness too. So sue me.

The Jus is a shameless rip-off of Raymond Blanc's excellent recipe. It works tremendously well with duck and is what I cooked for Christmas lunch, (avec green beans, potatoes roasted in duck fat ['natch!] and pureed celeriac. Bliss!) Here with the meaty, garlicky, herby lamb it provides a similar counterpoint. With the cheesy mash, we get that whole sweet/salt thing going on too. Don't worry, it isn't terribly sugary.

*I really mean it about the garlic.

**unfortunately not a rare Brassica you can only find in a Shoreditch market. Sorry.

To business!

Adey’s Lamb with Parmesan Champ and Blackberry Jus

Serves 2

You will need:

A ridged griddle pan, a small frying pan, a small saucepan, a large saucepan, a warm oven and a small sieve that you can use for straining sauces. I use a big tea strainer that I found in Tiger for £3. A potato masher - potato ricer optional. A microplane for the garlic and later, the Parmesan.


Lamb leg steaks x4 if thin, x2 if lovely and thick

Juice of half a lemon

Garlic, 3 fat cloves

2 heaped teaspoons of dried Italian herbs. I used M&S.

Big glug of olive oil

Big grind of salt and pepper

Small glug of olive oil

Heaped tsp of unsalted butter

2 big sprigs of fresh Thyme

A plump banana shallot

Clove of garlic

50g field mushrooms, the fresher the better

Another tsp of butter to finish the jus

Big mugful of blackberries. Can be fresh or frozen, I use frozen as they give up their juice much faster. Use 3 per person for the garnish, remembering to warm them up first, if frozen.

150ml good red wine - the stuff you're going to drink with dinner. Romantic, remember!

                either: 50ml of Creme de Cassis (Creme de Mure, if you can find it)

                or: 150ml Ruby Port

Maris Piper potatoes, as big as your fist for each person

Salt for boiling

Cabbage; when shredded, a double handful. Any type you have to hand, darker green the better, frankly. Not kale though, eh? It’s too fibrous and too faux healthy. This is romance food!

Parmesan cheese, a block about 40x40x20mm

Olive oil

A cup of very warm milk (do not boil the milk)

Nutmeg, freshly grated

A nice bottle of ripe, rustic red wine. Italian for preference, though most Mediterranean reds will do. It needs to be robustly fruity with a firm structure. All smouldering eyes and dangerous curves… Here's a romantic favourite... a tenner in Majestic and I've seen it in Morrison's too:

Both are firm, fruity and respond well to the garlic and herbs over the lamb.

Decant the wine, set the table, light the candles, turn the phone off, (you know the drill).


Turn the oven on to a low heat - about 60C is fine, we're just heating plates and keeping food warm before assemblage, not cooking anything.

Stage 1: making the marinade and marinading the lamb

In a non-metallic bowl (flat bottom works best) pour in your big glug of olive oil (30ml?) and squeeze in the juice of half a lemon. Add two heaped teaspoons of the herbs and a good grind of salt & pepper. Peel and finely grate/microplane/crush/puree the garlic into the bowl. Mix all the flavours of your marinade together then add the lamb, coating the steaks evenly. Cover and set aside, total marinating time should be at least 30 minutes. We're going to cook these last. Put your griddle pan on a low heat so it's ready to rock. Wash the Microplane/grater.

Stage 2: making the jus

Place the small saucepan on a low heat and melt the butter in the olive oil whilst you finely chop the shallot, (as finely as you can manage). Add it to the pan once the butter just starts to foam. Stir. Finely dice the mushroom (again, as fine as you can manage) and add to the pan - turn up the heat to medium and sweat the veg down for a couple of minutes but don't colour it. Crush the garlic clove under your knife and add to the pan whole with the thyme and blackberries. (Remember to keep 6 back for the garnish). Add the wine and Cassis/Port, bring to the boil and simmer very gently on a back burner.

Stage 3: making the “champ”

Put the big saucepan on a low heat and add 2tsp salt. Place your frying pan on a medium heat. Peel and dice the potatoes into 2cm cubes or thereabouts, place in the pan and just cover with cold water. Place on the heat, turn it up to bring to the boil and simmer until tender at the point of a knife. Whilst that's going on, shred the cabbage leaves so you've a double handful, sliced about 5mm (half a centimetre) thick. Olive oil to the frying pan and put the cabbage in when the oil is hot - we're trying to get a little colour on the cabbage so don't be faint-hearted. Courage, now! Stir-fry your greens for a minute then add a splash of water to create some steam to wilt the cabbage. When it's just cooked, turn off the heat and put the pan in the oven to keep it warm.

Microplane/grate the Parmesan onto a plate, heat your cup of milk in the microwave - but don't boil it!

Once your spuds are tender, drain them in a colander. Place the colander of spuds onto the now empty saucepan to drain and allow some of the steam to drive off. Whilst this is happening, use your potato masher to crush the jus ingredients together and taste the *liquid*. Fruity, herby, mouth-coating, savoury yet slightly sweet? It may or may not need reducing further. If it's too strong, add a bit of water. If it's still a bit thin, reduce until it is rich. If it's a bit sweet, you could add a touch of lemon juice or white wine vinegar. Wash the masher!

Empty any water out of the potato pan and mash the potatoes (or pass them through the ricer). Beat in the Parmesan with a little of the hot milk at a time until you have a satisfying puree. It should stand up in fluffy white clouds. Fold in the cabbage and add a touch more milk if it's a bit stiff.

Taste then season - you probably won't need salt as the cheese is powerful with Umami and salt anyway. Use a tiny amount of grated nutmeg at a time to taste. We won't be cooking it out, so it'll remain strong. We want only a whiff. Black or White pepper will be ace. Once the Champ is to

your satisfaction - it should just hold its shape - cover the pan and place it the oven along with the plates to keep warm.

Stage 4: straining and keeping the jus warm

Use the sieve/tea strainer to separate the jus from its ingredients into a jug or bowl. I use the back of a dessert spoon to squeeze every last drop out. Dispose of the solids and return the jus to the pan to warm. It may need further reduction. When it's the correct consistancy, taste it and season. Keep warm on the lowest possible heat. Add the garnish blackberries to warm through. You could pop a spot of butter on top to stop a skin forming if you can be bothered. (We're going to whisk it later)

Stage 5: the lamb and assembling the dish

This is where we speed up. The Champ and Jus can sit and wait as long as you take care of them, the lamb needs a certain urgency.

Fire up the biggest, hottest cooker ring/flame you've got and put the griddle pan on it. When it's smoking hot and I mean blazing, take the lamb out of the bowl and lay the steaks on the bars of the griddle and don't touch them until the edges of the meat has changed from raw to just cooked.

Whilst this is going on and keeping an eye on your pan, wash your hands then take the warm plates out of the oven and spoon the Champ out into an attractive rugby ball shapes on one side.

Check the lamb - it's almost certainly cooked on one side by now if it's a thin steak. If the meat has gone white at the edges and some juice has started to appear on top of the meat, it's done on that side.

Turn it over and cook the other side. Whilst this is going on and keeping an eye on your pan, turn up the heat on the jus and whisk the final knob of butter in to make it rich and glossy. Spoon the finished jus onto the plate. It should create a very satisfying, shiny purple puddle.

If your steaks are thin, they're almost certainly done by now.

Once done, lay them one on top of the other on the jus with a tiny grind of salt. Add the blackberry garnish.


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