Recipe by Michele Round, Pinot Shop Australia
Blanquette of lamb is the quintessence of seasonal eating – succulent real spring lamb served with baby spring vegetables in a delicious sauce the texture of velvet.
The blanquette method (derived from the French word for white, ‘blanc’) is suitable for veal, young lamb or chicken. Even though it looks very refined, the recipe is provincial in origin, having been cooked in country France for centuries.
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...
(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
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:
2 tbsp, rounded, plain flour
mushroom cooking liquor
2 egg yolks
2 tbsp cream
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.