On a recent holiday to Spain I went to one of the supermarkets hoping to get some bacalao to replenish my stocks at home but unfortunately they had none; however, whilst trying to find that I walked by lots of lovely baby artichokes and as they were only €4 a kilo I bought a bunch and brought them home in my suitcase (I managed to get the salt cod in another shop too). They’re a bit of a pain to prepare but there’s plenty of good guides online like this and it’s more tedious than difficult. When peeled I stored them in a bowl of water with the juice of a lemon to stop any browning and I had to weigh them down with a plate to keep them all underwater.
I was thinking of accompaniments to go with the artichokes and remembered that a classic combination is mint which immediately suggested lamb as the meat part of the dish; I find this is the best time of year for lamb as they’ve been grazing over the summer on pasture and there’s a much more pronounced flavour than when the animals have only been milk fed in spring.
I combined the mint with some peas to make a puree and it gave me a chance to try out this really cool trick I read about last week where you put some copper coins into the boiling water when cooking any green vegetable and it helps preserve their colour. I also added a pinch of sodium bicarbonate hoping it would increase the effect – and it seemed like it did – but I suppose a side by side test with some untreated peas would be the only real way to verify the success properly.
For the sauce I must apologise for using the word jus which I know has such pretentious overtones nowadays but it actually does serve a purpose: specifically it refers to a sauce that is quickly made from the brown bits left over after frying some meat and if thickened has been done so purely by reduction. Unfortunately the term has been abused by too many menu writers over the years. Another name for it is an integral or pan sauce but the title of this post is long enough as it is! The idea for deglazing with elderflower came from a recipe on Honest Food I’ve mentioned before and I used an unusual soft drink I found in Marks & Spencers as the source: it’s basically a flavoured but unfermented ‘beer’ meaning it’s non-alcoholic. You could easily substitute elderflower wine or cordial if you wanted though.
2 baby artichokes, peeled and halved
2 lemons, juice of
100g petit pois
Baking soda, pinch
50ml chicken stock
50g girolles, halved
4 lamb loin chops
150ml lamb stock
150ml elderflower soft brew
5g tarragon, finely chopped
Sherry vinegar, splash
- Add the juice from one lemon to a pot of heavily salted boiling water and cook the artichokes until tender (around 5-6 minutes).
- Strain the artichokes from the water and pat dry.
- Heat a frying over a low heat and melt ten grams of butter in it.
- Slowly fry the artichoke halves flatside down until golden brown.
- When done, cut in half again and reserve. (They can be reheated in the same pan when ready to serve)
- In a pot of boiling water add the baking soda and the peas and cook for two to three minutes.
- Strain the peas and transfer to a blender with the chicken stock and 25g butter and blend until smooth.
- Pass the puree through a fine sieve into a saucepan and season.
- Thoroughly wash the girolles and ensure all traces of soil have been removed.
- Heat a frying pan over a high heat and add some grapeseed oil.
- Fry the mushrooms until starting to brown on the edges.
- Remove from the pan and reserve (reheat in butter when required).
- Season the lamb loins chops.
- Place another frying pan over a high heat and when very hot add some grapeseed oil.
- Fry the chops on each side for 1-2 minutes (for medium rare).
- Remove the meat and leave to rest.
- Add the lamb stock and elderflower brew to the pan and deglaze. Boil until reduced by two thirds.
- Drop the heat to the lowest setting and stir in the tarragon, sherry vinegar and 25g of butter. Adjust the seasoning if required.
- To plate, smear a circle of the reheated puree in the centre of the plate and place the lamb chops on top; place three of the artichoke quarters in a circle around the meat and scatter the girolles in between. Coat the meat with the elderflower jus.