• Blanquette of lamb

    Lamb blanquette

    Blanquette of lamb is a luxurious dish of succulent spring lamb served with baby vegetables in velvety textured sauce.

    The blanquette method (derived from the French word for white, ‘blanc’) is suitable for veal, young lamb or chicken.
    Talk to your butcher about sourcing the lamb. There are many farmers around the country who go to considerable effort to ensure the quality and consistency of their fresh product. Good butchers develop close relationships with these suppliers and promote the origin (or ‘brand’) of the product on their shelves as something consumers can trust.

    For a blanquette the meat is cooked in stock and the resultant sauce thickened with flour and butter The final step is to enrich it with egg yolks and cream. Mushrooms and little onions are traditional accompaniments. Even though it strays slightly from the white theme, veal stock is excellent as it gives great flavour to the final sauce. As for the accompaniments, mushrooms and their cooking liquor are essential but you could add any baby vegetables – carrots, leeks, pickling onions, turnips, snow peas… Match up with the divine silkiness of 2004 Bald Hills Pinot Noir from Central Otago.

    The recipe

    Blanquette of lamb (serves 6 or more)
    To cook the lamb:
    2kg milk fed spring lamb – boned breast, neck and shoulder cut into 5cm cubes
    veal stock to barely cover
    2 medium carrots, cut into quarters
    2 medium onions, peeled, halved and two halves stuck with a clove each
    bouquet garni – lengths of celery stick, spring of thyme and parsley stalks tied together
    Bring the lamb and veal stock to a gentle simmer in a large pan. Skim the surface of impurities. Add the vegetables, bouquet garni and salt if the stock is not salted. Simmer gently, lid on for an hour and twenty minutes or until the lamb is tender.
    Strain the stock from the lamb and reserve. Discard the vegetables from the lamb. Strain the stock through a sieve lined with muslin back over the lamb. Keep warm. Just before preparing the sauce, drain the stock from the lamb completely. Reserve the stock.

    Preparing the vegetables:
    250g tight white mushrooms, cut in halves or quarters if large
    knob butter
    100ml water
    1 tbsp lemon juice
    salt and white pepper
    In a medium saucepan simmer the mushrooms with the other ingredients for 2 minutes. Drain the cooking liquor and reserve.
    Simmer 12 spring onions, pickling onions (peeled) and/or leeks in water until tender. Drain and keep warm. Simmer 18 baby carrots and/or turnips in water until tender. Drain and keep warm.

    For the sauce:
    60g butter
    2 tbsp, rounded, plain flour
    lamb stock
    mushroom cooking liquor
    2 egg yolks
    2 tbsp cream
    chopped parsley
    Heat the butter in a large saucepan. When foaming add the flour, stir well and cook the roux for a minute. Whisking all the while add about 1 litre of warm lamb stock and all of the mushroom cooking liquor – this really gives the sauce something! Simmer gently for a minute or two. If the sauce is too thick, add some more stock. In a small bowl whisk the egg yolks and cream together. Add a spoonful of warm lamb stock and then whisk the egg liaison into the thickened sauce. Bring to just under a simmer. Taste and adjust seasoning.
    To serve: Add the mushrooms to the lamb. Pour the enriched sauce over. Portion the vegetables to individual plates. Add the lamb and mushrooms, napping the vegetables with some of the sauce. Sprinkle with parsley and serve. Rice is a traditional accompaniment.