Sunday, 27 June 2010

Warm weather - salad time!

The World Cup is in full swing and the weather is breezy. And balmy, at a nice 27 degrees. It was kind of funny walking from Pimlico to Sainsbury's down near Victoria at the same time the Germany/England game was playing. I didn't need to see anything to know each time a goal was almost scored, I only had to listen.
Anyway, in a salute to the lovely day and the lack of people grocery shopping (note to self - a big match is a great time to do a really fast shop [and I'm in a bit of a snit at having lost pretty much all chance of getting any of my money back in the office World Cup sweep stake and am therefore not watching games]), I decided to treat myself to lamb neck fillet, served as a warm salad.
Turned out quite nicely - if I don't blow my own vuvzela, who else will?

Warm salad of lamb neck fillet with baby potatoes, spinach and watercress

Serves 2

2 lamb neck fillets
salt and freshly cracked pepper to season
1 tsp olive oil
10 - 14 baby potatoes (depends on size and hunger)
2 good handfuls of baby spinach
1 good handful of water cress

For the dressing:
1/4 cup white wine vinegar
1/2 cup good quality extra virgin olive oil
salt and freshly cracked pepper to taste
1 tsp French Dijon mustard
1 tsp runny honey

balsamic glaze/reduction

Pat the lamb neck fillets with kitchen towel to remove any moisture. Season with salt and pepper and leave on a plate to come to room temperature - I'm cooking for me and I prefer my lamb tender, so I like it not to go from one temperature extreme to another. Turn a fan forced over to 200 degrees and place an oven-proof dish in it - the lamb will be finished off in the oven.
Put the potatoes in a pot with enough cold water to cover. Place a lid on the pot, bring the potatoes up to a boil and then simmer for around 20 minutes, until tender when stabbed with a fork. Drain the potatoes and leave uncovered to cool off a bit.
On the stove, get a medium sized frying pan on a medium heat. Once the pan is hot, put in the olive oil and then sear the lamb on all sides, should be about 30 seconds per side, just so it's caramelized. Put the lamb into the ovenproof dish, back into the oven and cook for 12 minutes for lamb that's still pink but not running around the place, baaing its little head off. This is one for you to cook to your preference. Around 15 minutes should see it getting to medium, if not well done.
While the lamb is in the oven, make the dressing. I use a glass, screw-top jar to do this (high tech, I know). Place the vinegar, oil, salt, pepper, mustard and honey in the jar and shake well.
Put the warm potatoes onto two dinner plates, lightly smash with a fork to break them open and pour over around half the dressing between the two plates. Just let it sit and soak up.
When the lamb is done, take it out of the over and very loosely cover with a piece of foil while it rests for around 10 minutes. The idea is to allow steam to escape in order to stop the lamb from continuing to cook.
After the lamb has rested, uncover it while you place the salad leaves on top of the potatoes, drizzle on some more of the dressing (you don't have to use it all, it will keep quite happily in the fridge for a week) and toss with your hands to get things evenly distributed.
Slice the lamb diagonally, into something like 1cm wide strips. Place on top of the rest of the salad, drizzle with the balsamic glaze and serve (you may need to mop up round the edges with some kitchen towel). I had mine with a glass of rose - lovely!

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