Jamie’s 30 Minute Meals #25: Spring Lamb
This is our 25th cooking/blogging experiment from Jamie’s 30 Minute Meals. Wow! We’re officially HALFWAY through the book! For this week’s recipe, we chose “Spring Lamb, Vegetable Platter, Mint Sauce, Chianti Gravy, and Chocolate Fondue.” We chose it because we had the episode recorded, and because it’s one of “lower” carb recipes left in the book. (Normally we cook our Jamie meal on Saturday – which is our Diet Cheat Day – but this weekend was the Snook’s birthday, so that took precedence.) I was on chef duty for this one, and the Snook clocked me at 38:42. I was really annoyed with that time, given that I was flat out the whole time and this meal had a LOT of components. There’s no way you could do it in 30 minutes! Time concerns aside, it was a very tasty meal and quite possibly the best lamb I’ve ever cooked.
Substitutions: The recipe says to remove the fat from your rack of lamb, but we left it on. (Jamie leaves it on the show, and the photos in the book clearly show it on too. Besides, it’s tastier that way!) We couldn’t find “lamb neck fillet,” so instead we bought a whole lamb neck and the Snook actually filleted it himself. We couldn’t get cherry tomatoes on the vine, so loose had to do. I used full sized potatoes and carrots (chopped up) rather than the baby ones specified, and I used broccoli instead of runner beans. Other than that, everything was as written in the recipe.
Quick verdict: The lamb cutlets were cooked beautifully. Seriously, cutting that thing apart and seeing the blushing pink was like Masterchef, baby! And they were so, so good. The lamb neck… not so much. It was cooked fine, but it was just chewy and tough. (Is a “lamb neck fillet” something else in the U.K.??) The gravy was very good, if a bit chunky. (I used a bit too much bacon.) I think this mint sauce may have actually converted me to liking it! I’m just not convinced of the need for both sauce AND gravy. (The Snook tells me “it’s traditional.”) The veg was a nice accompaniment. The fondue looked to be a disaster at first but then came good after a bit more work. It’s another one of his “afterthought” desserts though, and I’m not sure I’d bother with it next time. We both rated the overall meal a 9.5/10… if you don’t count the neck fillet. It’s a filling and warm late-winter/early-spring family dinner!
Read on for a photo essay of the preparation.Pre-start prep: We got out all the necessary ingredients, tools, and cooking vessels. The kitchen was clean (well, as clean as it gets) and everything wiped down and ready to go. The kettle was boiled and the oven turned on to 220C. We had a big pot for the veg, a frying pan for the meat and gravy, and a roasting tray for the meat as well.
First up are the ingredients for the lamb: 8-bone rack of lamb, lamb neck fillets, rosemary, garlic, dijon mustard, white wine vinegar, and cherry tomatoes.
Next the ingredients for the gravy: bacon, rosemary, flour, and red wine.
For the mint sauce, I needed fresh mint, red wine vinegar, and sugar.
For the vegetables, I had: potatoes, carrots, chicken stock cube, beans, broccoli, Savoy cabbage, frozen peas, butter, and a lemon.
Lastly, for the dessert: 70% chocolate bar, vanilla, milk, and fruit to dip (apple and pear).
Pots and pans, ready to go! Big pot is for the veg. The frying pan is used first for the lamb, then for the gravy. The lamb goes into the roasting tray into the oven. I also needed a mortar & pestle and a gravy boat!
And I’m off! The first job was to cut the lamb rack in half and season it with salt and pepper.
The rack went into the hot frying pan (fat side down) in some olive oil to sear.
Next I started on the veg. Instead of using new potatoes, I just cut up the existing big potatoes we got out of our weekly veggie box.
I also cut up some big carrots into smaller pieces.
I put the veg into a pot of boiling water along with salt, the mint stalks, and the stock cube. I put the lid on to let it boil and cook.
Next I seasoned the neck fillet with salt, pepper, and olive oil and added them to the frying pan to sear. I also turned over the lamb rack.
Next I had to make the dressing that goes on the lamb. I picked all the stalks off a few sprigs of rosemary…
…and then bashed it up with salt, pepper, and garlic. Then I swirled in some olive oil, dijon mustard, and white vinegar.
I placed the seared lamb into the roasting tray and spooned the green goop over it.
Then I added the cherry tomatoes and shook the tray until everything was nicely coated. This went into the oven for 14 minutes.
Time to make the gravy! I started by slicing up my bacon. (Note: I used too much. Jamie says 4 rashers, but he probably didn’t use whole giant rashers like I did.)
I drained off most of the fat in the frying pan, then tossed in my bacon to cook. I had some nice crust forming in there!
Now for the mint sauce. I had to strip off the leaves…
…before pounding them up to a paste. Then I added red wine vinegar, sugar, a pinch of salt, olive oil, and a couple spoonfuls of the cooking water from the veg. It was really tasty!
The bacon was well cooked at this point, so I added some rosemary leaves and then a big spoonful of flour.
I poured in a glass of red wine to deglaze the pan, taking care to scrape up all the yummy bits off the bottom. I also used a few ladles of the veggie water to loosen it up.
Now for the other veg. I prepped everything else (cabbage, broccoli, beans, frozen peas) and added them to the big pot, which was still bubbling away.
Next I started the dessert. I broke up the chocolate bar into a bowl. (We only did a half-recipe, so I only used half the bar of chocolate.) That got microwaved with a bit of vanilla, some milk, and a pinch of salt.
The oven timer went off, so I pulled out the lamb to let it rest. It looked great!
Back to the dessert. I sliced up the apple and pear we were going to dip in the fondue.
Fruit! (We squeezed on some lemon to keep them from browning too much.)
The veg is done! I drained it in a colander and put it back into the same pot.
I finished the veg with olive oil, butter, salt, pepper, and lemon juice.
It was time to slice the lamb. I nervously separated the cutlets… PERFECTION!
I also sliced up the neck fillets. I could tell at this point that they weren’t nearly as tender as the rack.
I added the roast tomatoes to the platter along with some of the pan juices.
Here’s the completed platter of spring lamb!
Here’s the complete spread of lamb, veg, gravy, and mint sauce.
And the finished dinner plate with everything on it.
Lastly, the dessert! The chocolate actually went really thick and grainy while we were eating, which worried me. Snookums guessed that maybe it had seized. So when we were ready for dessert, I added a bit more milk and heated it for a little longer in the microwave. Then I stirred madly… and it came good! It went silky and glossy and lovely. Very nice – and kinda romantic!
Tasting notes: Seriously, those lamb cutlets were *fantastic*. Perfectly cooked, tender and juicy, with just the right amount of kick from the dressing. The neck fillets… not so much. But whatever; that’s just Jamie padding out the meal to make it less expensive. (I’d rather have just the rack as a special treat.) The veg was surprisingly tasty considering that it was basically just boiled! It was nice to have a variety of different shapes and textures in there. I found having both mint sauce AND gravy to be overkill, but it’s traditional apparently. They’re both excellent. (My gravy was chunky from all the bacon, which is not necessarily a problem for us bacon-lovers.) I expected to be underwhelmed by the dessert, especially when the first attempt came out grainy and thick. But it turned into a lovely smooth ganache, one that would be perfect to share with someone special! Overall my only complaint with the meal was the time it took to complete. As the Snook put it, “It does seem like a lot to do in 30 minutes…” The only way I can see it happening is if all your veg was prepped to the point where you just dumped it in the pot. In terms of flavour though, this one was a winner. It rated 9.5 out of 10 from both of us! Just leave off the neck fillet next time; trust me on that one.
Stay tuned for another recipe from Jamie’s 30 Minute Meals!