Pesto and Mushroom Crusted Lamb Rump with Butternut Squash Pureé

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI cheated.

Yes you heard right. Although personally I wouldn’t agree with that statement but I have a silent partner in this enterprise, (you know who you are Frank) who would consider Pesto from a jar as the same as using a tin of new potatoes. Well sorry Frank,  jars of pesto are acceptable in my house. I use them quite often. Some are good and some are average. It’s not like I’m using Quorn or oven chips. I do also find it hard to grow basil in winter too. And don’t suggest using basil from a supermarket, as it’s probably not as good as you think it should be. Pesto in a jar is a really good way apart from freezing at keeping freshness. It’s in oil and no one complains about anchovies in oil. Rant finished.

This was an exercise in using up stuff like so many of my other offerings have been. The best dishes are usually made this way. Bubble and Squeak anyone?  I had a bit of butternut squash left over from a previous dish. It was the bollock end. You know what I mean and  I also had a third of a jar of pesto left and a few Chestnut mushrooms in a punnet in the fridge. When did calling a plastic tray, a punnet happen?

The Lamb was one of those bespoke cuts packs from Tesco. They are unfortunately always from New Zealand. Nothing wrong with New Zealand, in fact, there’s everything right with New Zealand but I would rather be using local, Welsh or as an old boss of mine would say…The Creme De Menthe of all lamb. Isle of Man lamb. Isle of Man lamb was a very short seasonal lamb and at my old butchers shop this would fly out. The pigs never got a chance! This particular lamb I used was procured from my nice Fresh Food manager, all above board. It was due to be thrown away due to it not having a sell by date on it. So I suggested to buy it at a discount price to save money, and animals from a meaningless death.

The more you cook, the less daunting and stressful the process becomes. So this may seem a little fiddly to some but honestly, it was quite simple. I gently fried cubes of the butternut squash till they were soft and then blitzed them in my mini blender with a little chicken stock and grated Parmesan . I put the blitzed pulp into a small pan to be heated later. I then fried the mushrooms in a little garlic and butter till they were dry. I added a little Truffle Oil to the mushrooms and then mixed it with the pesto. I had some new potatoes (not from a tin) pre cooked, these were slightly sauteéd and then put in the oven along with the lamb which I had browned on all sides and covered in the pesto/mushroom mix.

Most meat comes these days with cooking instructions. These Rumps were to be cooked in an oven for 22 minutes for medium rare. I gave then 17 minutes and they turned out re just a little overdone. Never believe cooking instructions unless it’s a Holland’s Potato and Meat pie done in the microwave. Most companies a scared you will get food poisoning from undercooking their wares and don’t want any legal action.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThis is a bit of a change for me as I usually do…… Meat with this and that and a kind of sauce. The butternut squash pureé was the sauce this time. It gave a little moistness to the dish. The lamb…………….was a serious disappointment. Neither Me or Carol found any flavour in it. I have noticed this in quite a few lamb dishes I’ve done recently. I don’t know why as I see lamb as the ultimate free range meat.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThis dish would work with any meat. Carol was a little less sceptical  about the lamb.

It went down with a really lovely Vega del Cega red from Lidl.A mighty fine temperanillo

I even used the dregs of my Fine Beans and bulked them out with some frozen peas. (There you go Frank, evidence of non freshness).

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI think the winner here is the butternut squash pureé. It lends a flavour dimension without having to make a sauce.

Mugsie

Duck with Plum Sauce and Jerusalem Artichoke Risotto

Well I don’t think you can get much seasonal than this. Purple sprouting broccoli and jerusalem artichokes. As for the duck, that’s always in season for me.

What’s a jerusalem artichoke I hear you say, well here’s a few

Jer3I’ve had them before and not been impressed. Roasted or sauteéd they seem to go a little wet and don’t really crisp up so I trawled the web and found a risotto recipe for them.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASo to make this dish, start with the artichoke risotto.

Gently fry in butter about three quarters of a pound of peeled and and sliced jerusalem artichokes. Beware!!!! Peeling these things is an art in itself and probably a reason why these things are no longer on our foodie radar. Once they are softened, blitz them in a processor with a dash of cream and a little chicken stock until smooth and creamy.

Now make a risotto as normal but use a little less rice than usual for 2 people. Stop the cooking process so you can continue later on when the duck is resting.

For the duck, what can I say. Cook as per normal, ie, skin side down for 8 minutes and then turn over for a few minutes more. Always leave the duck to stand for 5 or so minutes. I usually cook my veg in a microwave these days. I find it not only quicker but the veg retains a lot more flavour without having to resort to salt. The restaurant trick is to partially cook the veg and then plunge it into iced water. This retains the colour and allows you to quickly serve it when needed usually by tossing in butter.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWhile the duck is resting and the veg is in the microwave, finish off the risotto by adding the pureéd artichokes to the rice. Don’t forget to add some parmesan too, Add a little more stock if the rice needs it. And that’s it.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI’ll tell you what. This was bleedin’ delicious. The risotto had a sweet nuttiness that went well with the duck. I must admit the plum sauce came in a packet with the duck but I added a little red wine to it. I can’t leave anything like that alone. I have to “improve” things. The duck was perfect, still juicy and if you like duck well done, then stick it in a pancake not on a plate!

A cheeky shiraz went well with this. I don’t think any more jerusalem artichokes will be coming my way for a while but if they do, then I will definitely be making a risotto with them. A truly eye opening dish.

It’s been a while folks but I have a few more dishes up my sleeve to come.

Thanks Mugsie