We continue our Dinner with Drake's series with another extraordinary recipe from Maxime Alary, proprietor of London's premier French bistro, Blanchette. This one takes some skill and preparation, but will yield spectacular results.
Illustration by Amanda Berglund.
I love this dish because it’s a mix between meat and fish. A bit like When Harry Met Sally (When the Lamb Met the Anchovy!), it's a perfect combination. It's a bit of work to prepare and needs a little practice, but it’s a perfect dish from January to December.
It's very South of France style in terms of flavour, with the garlic, the rosemary, the anchovies. The Italians would say that it's an Italian dish, and the French would say that it’s a French dish.
It's been on the menu at Blanchette since day one. You could say it's our signature.
One shoulder of lamb off the bone, but if possible ask to keep the bone for the sauce
100g anchovies in oil
5 bulbs of garlic
4 large Spanish onions
1 dessert spoon of white wine vinegar
100g tomato paste
One bunch of rosemary
100g duck fat or light olive oil
2 glasses of red wine
2 liters chicken of lamb stock (store bought is fine, but I recommend the fresh stuff, not powder)
1 generous dessert spoon of redcurrant jelly
The best result will be achieved from starting this a few days in advance.
Start by finely chopping together 80g of the anchovies (reserving the rest for garnish) with a good handful of peeled garlic cloves and 2/3 of the rosemary. This can also be made in a food processor. Rub this on the inside of the lamb, then tie it up with twine.
Roughly chop the carrots, leeks and one of the onions. Place in a deep tray with the lamb and wine, cover it with cling film and leave it to marinate overnight.
The next day.
Put the oven on 230°C. Pour the wine out from the tray and brown the meat and vegetables in the hot oven, or under a salamander grill (at Blanchette we do this on the stove top in a large heavy bottomed pan, but you might find it a bit messy at home).
Put the oven temperature down to 150°C. Add the wine back into the tray together with the stock, tomato puree and redcurrant jelly. Make sure the lamb is covered with the stock, place a tight fitting lid or tin foil on top, and place back in oven.
After 2.5 hours, take the lamb out to check it. It should be soft, but not falling apart - you should be able to push a carving fork through it easily, if it is still elastic it needs a bit longer! If it is ready, remove it from the oven and allow to cool a little.
At this point there are two roads to travel - a restaurant-style finish or more rustic family serving.
For the quick route:
Pour off the cooking juices and pass it through a sieve. Reduce it in a pan, skimming off any excess fat on the surface. When the sauce is reduced and flavoursome, finish with fresh rosemary. Remove the string from the lamb and pour the sauce over it – serve with your preferred potatoes.
But if you really want to impress:
Finish the sauce as mentioned before. Meanwhile, with the lamb still warm place it on cling film, remove the string, season with salt and pepper and roll it up like a big sausage. Place it in the fridge until later.
Peel and chop the remaining onions and place them in a sauce pan with 150g of butter, a pinch of salt and splash of white wine vinegar. Put on a tightly fitting lid and simmer for a few hours. You want a little caramelization on the onion but if they are starting to look brown or dry you can always add a little bit of water (If you have a pressure cooker the cooking time is much shorter). When onions are completely soft, allow them to cool a little. Blend them and season with salt and pepper.
For the garlics:
Place peeled garlic cloves in a pan with cold water and bring it to simmer. Discard the water and repeat 3 times (this removes the harshness of the garlic). Add some warm duck fat or light olive oil and simmer for about 30 minutes until they are lightly golden.
To finish the dish:
Cut the lamb ‘balontine’ (sausage) into steak-like rounds. Heat a non-stick pan and give one side of the lamb rounds some colour, turn over and add some of the sauce to the pan. Simmer until warmed through. Tip: Do not let the sauce reduce too much, you can add a splash water to prevent this!
Put some of the warm onion puree on the center of the plate, carefully place the lamb on top, add some of the sauce and some fresh rosemary. Garnish with the confit garlics and a sliver of anchovy. Enjoy!