Lamb loin or back strap is a wonderful lean and meaty cut of lamb which is very tender. It adorns many restaurant menus but can also be easily prepared at home for any special occasion. Beef and Lamb Ambassador Chef Harry Williams of Alpha Street Kitchen and Bar in Cambridge, recently demonstrated this to an audience of 24 eager home cooks at the Great New Zealand Foodshow in Hamilton. He explained just how easy it was to get the best out of this fabulous cut. With no fat cap to keep the meat moist during cooking, Harry says a quick pan fry followed by resting the meat well, ensures a perfectly cooked and tender result.
The subtle flavour of lamb loin is perfect for embracing other flavours and Harry chose to coat the lamb in a combination of Moroccan spices. He then pan-fried the fillet until the outer crust was browned but the meat was still soft to the touch indicating the correct medium-rare degree of cooking. Once rested, Harry sliced the lamb loin over a bed of puy lentils with parsnip purée, charred onions and whipped feta. With each of the class participants following along, they all successfully cooked and plated up their own version of his recipe, before sitting to down to enjoy their dish with a glass of wine. So if you’re keen to cook something very special for National Lamb Day on 24 May see below for Harry's recipe.
Or if dining out is how you want to celebrate National Lamb Day, Harry and his team at Alpha Street Kitchen and Bar in Cambridge, will be serving up a ‘hay smoked lamb rump with tonka bean and artichoke purée, served with a crumbed sweetbread’. Harry designed this dish using earthy smokey flavours to suit the autumnal time of the year. alphast.co.nz
pan roasted lamb loin with moroccan spice,puy lentils, parsnip puree, whipped feta and charred onions
1 x 180gm lamb loin per person
Moroccan spice mix
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon flaky salt
¾ teaspoon ground black pepper
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground coriander
½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
½ teaspoon all spice
Method: grind the spices together in mortar and pestle or coffee grinder. Save one teaspoon of the rub for lentils. Rub the spice mix on the lamb loin and set aside.
salt to taste
Method: peel the parsnip and cut into even 8-10cm pieces. Put all ingredients except butter and salt into a pot and bring to boil. Cook until parsnip is tender. Drain parsnip, saving a little of the boiling liquid. Put the parsnip into a blender, add butter and salt and blend until smooth. If the parsnip is too thick add a little of the boiling liquid. Taste and add seasoning if necessary.
Method: blend the feta in a food processor until smooth and silky.
400gm puy lentils
1 litre water
4 cloves garlic
1 teaspoon Moroccan Spice rub
80gm carrot, finely chopped
80gm celery, finely chopped
1 small brown onion
20gm fresh coriander, chopped finely
20gm fresh mint, chopped finely
200ml beef stock concentrate
Method: cook the lentils in a litre of water until tender. In a pan, sauté garlic, onion, carrot, celery with half the butter and Moroccan spice. Drain the lentils when they are cooked and add to the pan. Add currents, coriander, mint and beef stock concentrate, reduce till slightly thicker. Then stir through the remainder of the butter. Taste for seasoning. While the lentils are cooking heat a fry pan over an element and pan fry the lamb loins until they have browned and are soft to the touch (medium rare). Remove from the pan, cover and leave to rest.
4 pickling onions
Method: cover with water in a pot and boil lightly until tender. Slice in half and sear in a pan.
Slice the rested lamb and arrange over the lentils and parsnip puree. Using a piping bag, pipe the whipped feta into the charred onion halves. Drizzle with 20ml of Al Brown Orange & Chilli Oil available from specialty shops.