Thursday, March 29, 2012

Dinner Party - The Main Course

The Main - Stuffed Lamb
The main course of every dinner party is the crowning glory - the one that wills tick in most peoples mind the most (hopefully for the right reasons). I always choose the main course first and create the rest of the menu around it. In this particular case, I had my mind set on lamb - on lamb loin to be exact. Yes, it is a more expensive option but for what I wanted to do, it was perfect. Of course, I also wanted to show off a bit. One good thing on a four course meal - your portions can be smaller. Anyway, I opted for lamb loin that I stuffed with spinach, garlic and pinenuts. The green against the meat rolled up looks impressive, the garlic gives a nice flavour (I roasted the garlic before I added it to the stuffing) and the pinenuts gave a lovely texture to the dish. As I wanted the meat to shine, I only had carrots as a side dish (although flavoured with orange) and pommes dauphinoise. The gravy was more like a jus (much thinner) and was red wine based but I was surrounded by people who are not gravy lovers - the food spoke for itself and didn't need drowning in a sauce.

The dish went down a treat and I didn't even say how easy it was to make. Of course, I have an amazing butcher in O'Flynn Brothers in Marboro Street in Cork (021 427 5685). He always knows what I need, I just call him and he has the meat ready for me to pick up (try to get that in a supermarket). I needed the meat to be cut so that I could roll it out and stuff it before rolling it up again. Watching Mr Flynn was a treat - he is a real artist in craft butchery.

A wonderful Bordeaux
You can prepare the dish in the morning (or even the evening before), wrap it up nicely in clingfilm and store in the fridge. Take it out at least 30 mins before you are browning it off so that the meat can return to room temperature.

I served a wonderful Bordaux with the lamb - again, a wonderful recommendation from Wine Buff in Oliver Plunket Street - Chateau Pelan Bellevue 2004 for €9.99 a bargain. 

Stuffed Loin of Lamb
  • Loin of lamb (enough to feed 4 people)
  • 100g young spinach leaves
  • 5 cloves garlic (roasted and chopped)
  • rosemary
  • 50g pinenuts (or more if you really like pinenuts)
  • 150ml red wine

A wonderful piece of mea
Wash the spinach and shake off excess water but is still a bit wet. Place in a saucepan and heat slowly. You want the spinach to wilt but not to cook. Place the meat on a flat surface (on top of clingfilm if you are preparing the meat in advance). Squeeze all excess water from the spinach and mix with the garlic and the pinenuts. Chop a bit of the rosemary and add to the spinach mixture. Scatter on top of the meat (leaving a bit of space on top and end) and start rolling the meat up. Tie with string - you want it to be tight and neat. Wrap in clingfilm and leave in fridge or continue straight away.

Preheat the oven to 180C. Heat some butter and olive oil in a roasting tin over medium high heat. Brown the meat on all sides. Place some more garlic and a few sprigs of the rosemary in the roasting tin. Place the roasting tin in the oven and roast for 40 - 45 mins. The meat will still have a tiny pink centre but is cooked fully without being dried out.

Remove the meat from the roasting tin and set aside covered with foil. Place the roasting tin back on the hob and pour in the wine making sure to scape all the goodies from the bottom of the tin. Bring to a boil and leave to simmer until reduced (if you want a more gravy-like consistence, add some cornflour to the sauce).

Cut the meat in slices and serve with carrots and pommes dauphinoisse.

Bon Appetit

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