Roast lamb in salt crust

by Cuisine | Cuisine issue #
Serves: 6Simon Wright's Roast Lamb in salt crust with preserved figs, parsnip, olives & fennel from the 2012 Cuisine Masterclass series

For the preserved figs
100ml port
100g sugar
120g semi-dried figs

Place the port, sugar and 100ml water in a small saucepan and bring to the boil to dissolve the sugar. Add the figs and cook gently for 2 minutes. Pour the figs and the syrup into a bowl, cover with cling film and leave to marinate at room temperature for 4 hours or preferably overnight.

For the lamb
6 x 250g lamb rumps, fat cap on
Olive oil for cooking

Use a sharp knife to remove the fat and excess sinew from the lamb (reserve these trimmings). Heat a little olive oil in a large frying pan then sear the lamb all over to colour. Remove from the pan and allow to cool.

For the lamb sauce
lamb fat and trim from the prepared lamb rumps
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves garlic
4 sprigs thyme
1.5 litres chicken stock

Roughly dice the lamb fat and trimmings from the prepared lamb rumps. Heat the oil in a large saucepan, add the lamb trimmings and caramelise over a high heat until golden brown. Crush the garlic slightly with the palm of your hand and add to the pan, along with the thyme and chicken stock. Bring to the boil then reduce the heat and simmer gently for 1 hour. Pass the lamb sauce through a fat filter or sieve then discard the trimmings and place the sauce into the fridge to set. As the sauce cools the fat will rise to the surface and set which will make it easier to remove and give you a clearer sauce. Remove the fat from the sauce with a hot spoon, place into a small saucepan and warm gently to melt. Place the lamb sauce in another saucepan and boil over a high heat until reduced by about two thirds. Keep warm.

For the salt crust
1kg rock salt
handful chopped rosemary
handful chopped thyme
4 egg whites

Place the salt, rosemary and thyme in a large bowl and mix to combine. Whip the egg whites to firm peak stage in an electric mixer then gently fold through the salt mix to form a light paste. Reserve.

For the caramelised onions
6 baby onions
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 sprigs thyme
2 tablespoons clarified butter
2 tablespoons sugar

Preheat the oven to 200°C. Trim the roots of the onions with a sharp knife then cut them in half lengthways, leaving the skins on. Line the base of a small roasting tray with baking paper then cover with the oil and season with salt. Lay the onions, cut side down, on the paper then top with the thyme and cover with tin foil. Place the onions in the oven for about 50 minutes or until soft. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool. Once the onions are cold, gently remove the skins and discard.
Heat a large frying pan, add the clarified butter and sugar and allow the sugar to caramelise to a golden brown. Add the onions to the pan, cut side down, and cook for about 1 minute or until the onions have absorbed some of the caramel. Remove from the heat and keep in a warm place.

For the fennel
12 baby fennel
50ml olive oil
2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1 teaspoon coriander seeds
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
2 star anise
80ml white wine
2 sprigs thyme
250ml chicken stock
2 tablespoons chopped fresh fennel, parsley and chives
20g unsalted butter

Trim the baby fennel into even lengths then use a scourer to gently rub the fennel all over to remove the tough outer skin. Blanch the fennel in boiling salted water for 1 minute then drain and refresh in cold water. Remove the fennel from the water and dry. Heat the oil in a large saucepan then add the fennel, garlic, coriander seeds, fennel seeds and star anise and sauté for 1 minute. Add the wine and allow it to reduce to a syrupy consistency then add the thyme and stock. Cover the fennel with a cartouche and simmer gently until the fennel is soft and has absorbed most of the stock. Remove from the heat and set aside (the herbs and butter will be added just before serving).

For the parsnip puree
50g butter
1 onion, finely sliced
2 cloves garlic, finely sliced
300g peeled and diced parsnip
450ml milk
50ml cream

In a large heavy-based saucepan, sweat the onions, garlic and butter, without colouring, until soft. Add the parsnips and continue to cook for 2 minutes. Add the milk and cream. Bring to the boil then season with salt and simmer until the parsnips are soft to the bite. Drain the parsnips, keeping the cooking liquor and puree in a blender using a little of the cooking liquor until you have a thick, creamy consistency. Taste and season then pass through a fine sieve. Keep warm.

For the garnish
2 teaspoons roasted garlic, finely chopped
1 tablespoon rosemary leaves
1 tablespoon chopped chives
2 tablespoons dried black olive powder

To cook the lamb
Preheat the oven to 230°C.
Line a baking tray with a silicone mat then place a large tablespoon of the salt mixture on the mat. Use the back of the spoon to spread it out to an oval shape just a little larger than one of the lamb rumps. Place a small piece of baking paper on the salt mix and place a lamb rump on top. Cover the lamb rump completely with salt mix and repeat the process with the remaining lamb and salt mix. Place in the oven and cook for 12 minutes, rotating the tray halfway through the cooking time. Remove the lamb from the oven and allow to rest in a warm place for 10 to 12 minutes.

To serve
Warm the lamb sauce, whisk in some of the lamb fat and add the roasted garlic, rosemary and chives.
Warm the baby fennel and add the butter and fresh herbs. Gently warm the figs in a little of the syrup. Reheat the caramelised shallots
Crack open the lamb baked in the salt crust. Brush off any excess salt and carve the lamb into 2 pieces. Place two spoonfuls of parsnip puree on a plate with some of the preserved figs. Place the lamb on the figs and the fennel on and around the lamb. Add the shallots, spoon some of the lamb sauce over the lamb and sprinkle with the dried olive powder.

Watch Simon Wright create this dish for our Masterclass series.

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