We have a Duo of Lamb on our menu, a lovely wedding menu choice with the theatre of a whole leg of Yorkshire Dales lamb being brought to each table accompanied by individual shepherds pies. So last week we spent a little time developing this dish (AKA our chefs get to play with new ideas!).
First job, was taking the shepherds pie up a few notches, Nigel Hammond our fab butcher from Bainbridge brought us a really good local lamb shoulder from a farmer we know in Hawes. This was lightly scored and covered in a dry rub (paprika, cayenne, coriander, cumin, garlic powder, sea salt, thyme, rosemary and a few anchovy fillets) then cooked low and slow for 6 hours. The lamb literally fell off the bone at this point, once shredded we set the meat to one side, used the bones to make a stock and reserved the de-glazed roasting juices.
To make the filling the shredded meat was cooked with diced carrots, celery and onion that had been sauteed for 20 minutes along with tomato puree, garlic, rosemary, thyme, Worcestershire sauce, anchovies, ground coriander, cumin and cayenne, plain flour, lamb stock from the bones and the reserved juices. With our mantra of of slow and low this was left ticking over on the hob for 4 hours, once cooked sieved out a large part of the juices to keep the filling firm and give us the most amazing gravy.
The mash topping was pimped up with a generous amount of Yorkshire butter and two free range egg yolks to give it a really luxurious finish on top of the pie, fitting of a special occasion such as a wedding. Cooked in black ramekins at 200 deg C for 40 minutes our shepherds pie brought a lot of smiles from the team as they devoured their hard work in seconds!
We wanted another garnish for the board and decided to make lamb crisps. Not a quick process, but boy is it worth the wait, a lamb breast was dry cured for 24 hours in equal quantities of sea salt and brown sugar along with garlic powder and thyme. The following day the cure was washed off and the breast cooked slowly confit in pork fat for 2 hours, once cooled the meat was shredded and dropped into a deep fryer at 180 deg for a few seconds until crisp. The result is a really naughty, crispy, salty snack, a little like a lamb bacon and a great garnish for the sharing board or piled on a plate to accompany a few cold beers!
As we shredded the lamb breast we noticed the small ribs bones and in a classic light bulb moment thought “lollipop sticks”. So we took some of the ragu style shepherds pie filling and set it in silicone moulds in a freezer, once firm, two half spheres where moulded together around a small rib bone and returned to the freezer. The frozen “lollipops” were then coated in flour, egg and Panko bread crumbs before deep frying. We need to refine these a bit further and change the filling so its different to the pie but we love them, food should be fun and these crispy coated balls filled with succulent lamb just tick every box for us. We are so lucky to have a job that is so much fun!
To complete the board we added a stack of Pomme Dauphine, the idea of the dish if you chose it for your wedding catering main is a joint of lamb that a designated guest would carve and each guest receiving a mini pie and lollipop.