Lamb with Salsa Verde Sauce and Chilli Cheese Potato Croquettes

So here I am, watching the final of Masterchef feeling pretty inadequate. Or am I?  No, sod it, I am what I am. A fat fingered cook who likes good food rather than pretty plates.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAMy plates do look rather goodish though. I’m a victim of time. I’d love to create a 3 dish course now and again but the demands of two kids wanting to be ferried here there and everywhere puts a damper on that. So I have developed a kind of Bistro style of  the one plate meal. That’s my kind of food. I’m not a lover of desserts which emanates from my strict no sugar diet of my football/squash playing days.  Now that I’m a fat bastard I really should explore that avenue a bit more.

The lamb is a rump which Tesco sell in a packet with instructions to cook in in it’s plastic bag for 45 minutes for a medium finish. I never follow those instructions and pity the people that do. They must end up with tough overcooked lumps of leather sometimes. I used my knowledge and fried briefly the skin side for a minute then cooked it in the oven for 30 minutes and gave it 10 minutes resting time. Instructions are soooooooo twentieth century!

Of course planning was needed as I needed to make breadcrumbs for the croquttes and also I needed to make the sauce.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe croquettes were a way of using old mash. My mash however has the skin still in and I’m sure Torode and Wallace would baulk at the idea of a mash that wasn’t velvety white. So with that in mind I decided to hide it behind a mask of breadcrumbs, not before I’d added a good grating of Parmesan and Cheddar to it along with a fairly mild chilli that was rolling around my veg drawer in the fridge.  I formed the potato cheese mixture into a long sausage shape and after cutting into croquettish  shapes I rolled  them in egg and then breadcrumbs as you would. After frying I kept them warm in the oven along with the lamb that was cooking.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI have a basil pot. I’ve had it for nearly 3 months now. It’s like an old friend that I feed on a regular basis. Some of it’s stalks are getting a little woody now but I picked off the best of these with some lovely fat leaves to originally make a Basil and Lemon sauce, which it was. I blitzed some basil with the rind and juice of a lemon and then added chicken stock and reduced it to a nice consistency. Then, I had an epiphany and remembered I had a few capers left in a jar. That is your Salsa Verde sauce.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe whole lot came together beautifully. Carol was well impressed. To be honest, so was I. It was a lovely flavour combination. The Chilli, Cheese and Earthiness of the Salsa Verde and the succulence of the lamb was a total winner. I’m sure I would have got a semi final place on this one.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAUtterly Piggin’ Gorgeous! Nicely washed down with…. hold on……. an Indian wine. Yes. M&S now sell a lovely Tempranillo/Shiraz from India. I can really recommend it. I can also recommend that you not only give this dish a go but at least take bits of it and use them somewhere else.

Chilli cheese croquettes. That’s genius that is! Genius.

Now to study my Masterchef book of desserts.

Mugsie

Breast of Lamb with Spicy Cous Cous.

I feel like an interloper. This for many years has been a mainstay of Frank and Julia’s mealtime but I came across a reduced rolled breast at my Tesco for only £3. I’ve waited and waited and waited for him to post his dish but alas, making films seems to be more important. I do know that he is injured at the moment and should have been playing bowls tonight so that was an opportunity for him to go through the hundreds of photo’s of food he’s taken and deliver us some nuggets of his culinary wisdom. He hasn’t so here I am.

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Breast of lamb was a tricky thing to sell when I was a butcher. people were wealthy and did not want cheap cuts of meat. I used to end up making a mush we called “Pet mince”. It used the lungs of the sheep with other tasty morsels ( sweetbreads, testicles, brains, yum yum) along with breast of lamb. Nowadays everyone is looking for that “cheap cut” to the extent that all the supermarkets and butchers know that’s what people want, so they start charging premium prices for these. Once upon a time monkfish was 50p a kilo now it’s £24 a kilo. Ox cheeks went into pet mince along with pork cheeks. Oxtail was just never requested by butchers from the abattoir as only the O.A.P’s wanted it in winter to make a soup. And now people write food blogs about cheap cuts they buy! Ha!

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The breast of lamb was lovely and was slightly fiddled around with. Of course. I opened the rolled breast and cut the strings to reveal a breast and a half rolled up. I basically re rolled it back together after adding a stuffing made from chopped apricots, anchovies, crushed chillis and garlic slices. I didn’t use a bread mix with the stuffing as I didn’t want the rolled breast to be too big. I rolled the breast back together using my special butcher’s knots with my butcher’s twine. Use whatever method you can. Cocktail sticks are ok for this.

Then into a hot oven it went for 15 mins before I turned down the oven to around 140C for another 2 hours. Yes it’s a long time but you need to render the fat out of this cut of meat but also basting regularly along the way to give a nice crispy skin all over.

This gave loads of time to make the other parts of the meal. The cous cous was made with chicken stock then added to caramelised onion and red pepper and spiced with smoked paprika, cumin and a little orange juice.

Of course there was a sauce involved and after watching tonight’s Masterchef I was proved right that a little wetness was needed. I made a basic red wine and redcurrant sauce using more chicken stock and a little smoked paprika to bring the dish together.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAnd there you go. add a bit of veg and you’re away. I liked the lamb, it had a flavour that has been missing from more expensive cuts I’ve had recently. The crispyness was lovely and the cous cous and sauce was spot on. Now Frank. Can we have your take on this please?

Mugsie