Back in the saddle
Happy days. Some decent butchery to create noisettes from a saddle of lamb. The dish? Noisettes d’Agneau Sautées, Pomme Maxim’s avec Sauce Paloise.
Noisettes are medallions cut from the fillet and wrapped in fat. How they’re made is actually quite cool. Well—I think so.
A side of the saddle basically has 3 meats attached. The fillet or pencil fillet, the loin, and some belly meat. The skin, or bark in butcher’s parlance, was removed first revealing a lovely layer of fat. It’s important not to pierce this fat, though it’s possible to patch it with fat off-cuts. Next the fillet was extracted as it sits on top. With that out of the way and after some trimming the ribs were revealed. Then it was a matter of getting the knife underneath and letting it follow the contour of the bones. The loin was released with a final pull. Butchery involves pushing and pulling and scraping as much as cutting. I’d say you want to do as little cutting as possible.
The bones were removed along with the cartilage tip of the blade bone and the elastin, a highly elastic protein in connective tissue, that sits under the loin. This left a large flap of fat with flat belly meat attached. With the belly meat removed the fat was trimmed up some more and carefully smacked with the bottom of a small pan to get a sheet approximately the same thickness. The loin and fillet were trimmed and arranged tête-bêche—head-to-tail such that the thicker end of one sits with the thinner end of the other. This creates a more even diameter of meat. This was then rolled in the fat and then rolled in cling film. Into the fridge to set up. Later the cling film was removed and the roll tied and cut into 6 noisettes. These were marinated in olive oil, garlic, black pepper corns, rosemary, thyme and bay leaf.
A jus was made in the same old way.
Now for the new stuff. Exciting.
Spuds from Maxim’s. A potato was sliced thinly on the mandolin and a small circle cut from each slice. These were salted and patted dry then dipped in clarified butter and arranged on baking parchment. The parchment was folded over and the potatoes were cooked in the oven on a tray with a heavy pan on top. The end effect is a crisp that looks like glass with golden edges. Pretty cool. Chef said Pomme Maxim’s is harder than it looks and often depends on the potato. I wish I’d been more creative and not just created a shard.
The Paloise sauce is a derivative of Béarnaise. A reduction was made with white wine vinegar, white wine, mint, coriander seeds and white peppercorns. Egg yolks were whisked with half the reduction and some salt in a Bain Marie maintained at 50C until they reached ribbon stage. Then off the heat, clarified butter was whisked in. At the end a chiffonade of mint leaves was stirred through. Yum.
Below you can see chef’s plate and what I presented to chef on the day. Look at that glass-effect with the Pomme Maxim’s. Groovy! The photo up top was plated at home. By the time I got back the butter in my Paloise had set. With some careful reheating and whisking I restored it to liquid form but I should’ve let it down with more water. It was thicker than it should be as a hot sauce. Still nice though.
In demo, chef also prepared Soufflé à la Menthe aux Pépites de Chocolat made with Crème de Menthe. Basically crème pâtissière, Crème de Menthe and meringue. Easy as. They were rising triumphantly, that is until they exploded. Too long in the oven chef said. I didn’t take a photo of the carnage. It didn’t seem right somehow. So I gave them a go at home. Very sweet for sure but if, like me, Crème de Menthe brings back bad memories don’t be put off. The minty flavour of these bad boys is actually quite pleasant and not mouthwashy at all. And the radioactive green is toned done by the meringue mixture.