Lamb with Rosemary, Garlic and Anchovies

A powerful and uplifting combination, one that works very well on a summer’s evening, eating al fresco. Using anchovies is not a semi-modern twist (the Surf and Turf cliché), it’s a way of adding flavor and salt to the dish. It made us think of the Roman Garum or Liquamen, a sauce made with fish and salt. The recipe for Garum is simple: just combine fish, lots of salt and leave to ferment for a couple of weeks, until you have a clear liquid. This fish sauce (but it doesn’t taste like fish) will bring umami and depth to the dish. In this case the anchovies will have a similar effect. During the cooking process they will practically dissolve and what is remains is flavor.
We enjoyed our lamb with Ratatouille. Make sure you prepare it one day ahead.

Wine Pairing

This combination requires a red wine that will not be blown away. We enjoyed a glass from the Corbières region in France, produced by Château Coulon and made from Syrah, Mourvedre, Carignan and Grenache grapes. Flavors such as cassis, black fruit with a hint of pepper. The wine is dark red, with a liquoricey edge, a touch of smokiness, firm but supple tannins and a minerally character.

What You Need

  • For the Lamb with Rosemary, Garlic and Anchovies
    • 400 gram Leg of Lamb
    • 1 Rosemary Sprig
    • 4 Garlic Gloves
    • 2 Anchovies
    • Olive Oil
  • For the Ratatouille
    • 1 Red Bell Pepper
    • 1 Red Pepper
    • 1 Courgette
    • 1 Aubergine
    • 4 Excellent Tomatoes
    • Thyme
    • Cilantro
    • Olive oil

What You Do

The day before prepare the Ratatouille.
Make 4 slices in the meat, preferably in the fatty part. Remove the needles from the rosemary and chop very fine (using a herb chopper). Peel the gloves and press them. In your mortar, mix the garlic and chopped rosemary with some olive oil, creating a paste. Cut the anchovies in 4. Add paste and anchovies to slices. Cover with foil and leave to rest for at least 12 hours. Remember to remove it from the refrigerator one hour before cooking.

Heat the oven to 235 °C or 455 °F. Transfer the meat to the oven for 10 to 15 minutes, until it has the right colour. Open the oven, allow to cool and set the oven to a low temperature. You could go for 80 °C or 175 °F. We set it to 140 °C or 285 °F. Remove from the oven when the internal (core) temperature is 60 °C or 140 °F. Cover with foil (not tight) and allow to rest for 10 minutes. In parallel warm the ratatouille. Slice the meat at a right angle to the direction of the stuffed slices, mix the ratatouille with lots of fresh cilantro and serve on a warm plate.

Chicken with Fresh Oregano

Thyme, Oregano, Basil, Rosemary, Saffron, Sage: all powerful Mediterranean herbs. Oregano, or Wild Marjoram, is an interesting one. Probably best known as the herbal ingredient of pizza. A dried herb, one to store in a jar, forget about and then use beyond its ‘use-by date’ and be disappointed.
Such a pity because fresh oregano is aromatic, slightly bitter, pungent and perhaps chemical, depending on the variety, of course. Great to combine with lamb, a tomato salad, grilled fish and of course chicken. It’s also great to flavour olive oil with oregano. So ask your supermarket or local greengrocer for fresh oregano!

Wine Pairing

We enjoyed our chicken and oregano with a glass of Rioja Paternina Reserva 2015 produced by Marques de la Concordia. Reserva means that the wine ages for a minimum of 3 years, with at least 1 year in oak barrels. The grapes are tempranillo, mazuelo and garnacha; very typical for Rioja. It’s a powerful, full-bodied red wine with aromas of black cherries and touch of vanilla and various spices. The wine goes very well with the velvety chicken and the very present flavours of the oregano.

What You Need

  • Chicken Thighs
  • Olive Oil
  • Black Pepper
  • Chicken Stock
  • Lots of Fresh Oregano

What You Do

Halve the thighs, heat a heavy iron skillet, add olive oil and quickly fry the meat on all sides. Reduce the heat and add two third of the chopped oregano. Keep on low to medium heat for 10 minutes or so. Add some chicken stock, just to deglaze the pan. You will notice that the juices becomes green thanks to the oregano, so please coat the meat with the cooking liquid. Just before serving add the remaining oregano, some freshly ground black pepper and mix.
Serve with green beans, cooked in water with fresh garlic, wrapped in pancetta (after having grated some nutmeg over the beans) and then fried for 5 minutes in some olive oil.

  • Chicken with Fresh Oregano ©cadwu
  • Federico Paternina Rioja Reserva 2015 ©cadwu
  • Fresh Oregano ©cadwu



Tisane of Rosemary

From The Herb Garden

Pruning is perhaps not the easiest thing to do, but with thyme, lavender and rosemary it’s not too difficult. They only downside is that after having pruned the plants you have a huge bundle of (in our case) rosemary. What to do? You could dry the rosemary and make flavoured oil or vinegar. But how to make use of lots of fresh rosemary?
This tisane is a very delicate and powerful yet light and vibrant infusion. The tisane combines the aromatic flavours of the fresh rosemary with the stock. It’s all about rosemary, but in a surprisingly complex way. The edible flowers add an extra dimension to the tisane.
It’s best served in a small cup, size double espresso. It goes well between two more substantial dishes because it works as a palate cleaner. You could also serve it between two very different dishes. It’s also possible to serve a lighter version (see pictures).

The fun in preparing is that you need to find the right balance between the strength of the stock and the rosemary. Timing is also important. It simply requires some trial-and-error.

What You Need

  • Strong chicken or vegetable stock, preferably home made
  • Fresh Rosemary

What You Do

Heat the stock to 80° Celsius or 175° Fahrenheit. Warmer will make the tisane bitter. Now use the leaves (needles) of the rosemary and find out how many you need for let’s say 100 millilitre. Take 4 gram and set your alarm to 2 minutes. Remove the rosemary and taste. Too bitter: try again and set the alarm to 90 seconds. Not strong enough: increase the number of needles. Not intense enough: try 150 seconds. Keep testing until you have the perfect result!
Decorate with one or two rosemary flowers; their sweetness and colour adds value.

 

Lamb Shank with Rosemary

When In Paris…

A few years ago when attending a business lunch in Paris (the things we have to endure in life…) we were overwhelmed by the menu. We quickly decided to go for Lamb and told the waiter in our very best French we would like to taste Souris d’Agneau au Vin Rouge et aux Herbes, although not exactly knowing what a Souris might be. So during that lunch we discovered the joys of Lamb Shank.
Most recipes recommend preparing lamb shank in a hot oven (200 °C or so) but that’s actually not the best way to do it. Too hot, too fast, too dry.

Lamb shank has a generous amount of fat which makes it ideal for slow cooking. Our preferred option is to use a pressure cooker. Within 45 minutes the lamb shanks will be perfectly cooked, tender and moist.

Wine Pairing

We would suggest drinking a glass of Bordeaux with the lamb shank. The Bordeaux is in general a classic blend with Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc. The wine should be well structured with lots of fruit. It should support the sweetness of the dish (carrots, lamb, leek). Soft tannins, a smooth texture and sufficient length. We very much enjoyed a glass of Chateau Beaulieu (2012) with our lamb.
Remember to use the same wine for cooking the lamb!

What You Need

  • 2 Lamb Shanks (with fat, please!)
  • 2 Shallots
  • Carrot
  • Leek
  • Celeriac
  • 2 Garlic Gloves
  • Olive Oil
  • Bouquet Garni, for instance:

    • Bay Leaf
    • Parsley
    • Thyme
    • lots of Rosemary (and 2 extra sprigs)
  • Red Wine
  • Water
  • Black Pepper
  • Brussels Sprouts or Carrots

What You Do

Start by colouring the lamb shanks in olive oil. Transfer to a plate and then gently fry the shopped shallot, the leek, the carrot, the celeriac and the garlic. When ready add the red wine and some water, depending on your taste. Add the generous bouquet garni with extra rosemary and some cooked garlic. Transfer the lamb shanks back to the pan and close the pressure cooker. Cook for 30 – 45 minutes depending on the size of the shanks. Transfer the shanks to a warm plate, pass the cooking juice through a sieve (discarding the vegetables), check the sauce, reduce if necessary,  and serve the shanks with a classic branch of rosemary, Brussels sprouts and some bread.
If you want to emphasize the natural sweetness of the dish, then serve with glazed carrots.

 

Caesar’s Mushrooms with Udon

Caesar’s mushroom (or Amanita Caesarea) is a true delicacy, especially when eaten very young. And raw. Since the young ones have the shape of an egg, they are called ovoli in Italian. It is not recommended to pick these young ones yourself, unless you’re an expert. The young Caesar’s mushroom looks very similar to young Fly Agaric, Death Cap or Destroying Angels. Ones we would not like to see on (y)our plate. The mature Caesar’s mushroom looks very distinct from these very dangerous mushrooms, so fewer risks involved.
When you’re in North America, you will probably be able to buy Amanita Jacksonii or Amanita Arkansana, which seem to be very similar, but not completely. As far as we know eating cooked Amanita Caesarea and Arkansana is not a problem; eating them raw could be.

The classic recipe for ovoli is to include them in a salad, with shaved white truffle, parsley, olive oil and parmesan cheese. Another option is to add them to your risotto.

In this recipe we combine the delicate flavour of the Caesar’s mushroom with lots of thyme, rosemary, bay leaf, a touch of garlic, Parmesan cheese and olive oil. Best would be to use Calamintha Nepeta, but using thyme will also do the trick. A garlic glove must be added because the garlic will turn black if your mushrooms are poisonous (not a story to rely on).

Ideally served with Japanese udon because the noodles will be nicely coated with the cooking juices, but feel free to use good pasta as an alternative. One of the benefits of udon is that it is really white, allowing for the yellow of the mushroom to be more present.

We enjoyed our Caesar’s mushrooms with a glass of traditional Burgundy wine from France (100% pinot noir). The wine should have delicate fruit aromas (black cherries, plum) and some earthiness. The wine should be medium bodied and have a crisp acidity. Not too much oak, because oak will overpower the mushrooms. The pinot noir should also be relatively light, allowing for herbal and floral tones.
Pinot Noir wines from the new world are in general rounder and higher in alcohol, making these wines more like Syrah or Malbec. We don’t recommend these wines, however tasty, in combination with the dish.
A glass of Chardonnay is also an option provided it’s fresh with just a touch of oak and butter.

Here is what you need

  • 200 grams of Caesar’s mushrooms
  • Olive Oil
  • Thyme
  • Rosemary
  • Bay Leaf
  • Garlic glove
  • Parmesan cheese
  • Japanese Udon (for instance from Hakubaku)

Clean the Caesar’s mushrooms and remove the white veil (or volva). Make a bouquet garni with lots of thyme, rosemary and a bay leaf. Start by making flavoured olive oil by warming the olive oil in a large skillet and adding the herbs and the garlic glove. Not too hot, you only want the flavours and essential oils to be added to the olive oil. After 15 minutes or so remove the garlic and the bouquet. Now add the sliced Ceasar’s mushrooms and very gently fry them. Just cooked is perfect. In parallel cook the udon. When ready (12 minutes in our case, you don’t want the udon to be al dente), drain the udon but keep some of the cooking liquid. If there is too much starch on the pasta, then think Japan and wash your pasta with cold water. This will remove the starch and allow for a better result. Remove the Caesar’s mushrooms from the pan and keep warm. Add the pasta to the pan, stir and make sure the pasta is fully coated. Add a spoonful or two of the cooking liquid to the pan. Add some grated Parmesan cheese and black pepper. Transfer the Caesar’s mushroom back to the pan and stir very gently, making it into one yellow, tasty mixture. Just before serving sprinkle with extra Parmesan cheese.