Sunday dinner

A little late, but here at last: our Sunday dinner. Jenny is having a hectic time right now, and is scarcely home at all, she was however home between Sunday lunch and Monday morning! Perfect time for a nice wine and dine to catch up on our missed V-day.

We had a little talk before, and settled on lamb, and we also had to make something of the Scorzonera hispanica we got in our organic box this Wednesday (the English language seems to have a lot of names for this plant, among my favorites are black oyster root, serpent root and viper's grass). The leaflet that came with the box stated that it could be gratinated almost like potatoes, so we settled on potato and serpent root gratin. The menu ended up being:

Fillet of Lamb
with Red Onion Confit, Thyme-pesto Ricotta
Potato and Serpent Root Gratin
Penfold's Bin 28

It turned out really nice, and we had a nice evening with good food, wine and company. The combination of the Red Onion Confit and the Thyme-pesto Ricotta was really surprisingly harmonic. Thyme was sort of a theme, and it always works with lamb, just like a good expensive Australian wine (it's curious how beverages from different countries go so well with the local staple foods). We also had dessert, but that's in a later post.

Meet the meat, real close up.

The recipe was more or less made on a hunch, so a lot of the measures are a bit iffy, but we do our best to estimate! This serves the usual three (Jenny, me and me tomorrow).

Fillet of Lamb
2–3 fillets of lamb (we had three, totaling ~450 g... it's not a very large animal)
Some fresh thyme
~4 tbsp Red Wine Vinegar
~4 tbsp Oil
1 large Garlic Clove

Clean the fillets and put them in a plastic bag. Pour the vinegar and oil over. Give the garlic clove a good beating so it raptures (put the blade of a knife over it and the put your weight on the blade) and throw it in. Throw in the thyme and add salt and pepper to taste. Don't actually taste it, but try to estimate how much you need – for us it's usually “three or four turns on the mill”). Seal the bag and massage it for a while, then put it in the fridge for a few hours.

Take out the fillets and brush of as much as possible of the other stuff. Fry them in a hot pan with butter until they get a nice coloring all around. Heat the oven to 200°C and put them in for about 15 minutes, they're supposed to have an inner temperature of ~55–60°C, or feel like the tip of your nose when you poke it (red inside) or harder. There's some oven synergy to be had with the gratin, they don't mind sharing. Make sure they're done a few minutes before serving so they have time to rest.

Red Onion Confit
2–3 Red Onions (we had 3 medium ones, but threw some of it away)
½ dl Water
2 tbsp Jelling sugar
4 tbsp Red Wine Vinegar /EDIT: Sorry, it's supposed to be Apple Cider Vinegar /

Chop the onion coarsely and put in a kettle. Add the water and vinegar and bring to a boil. Add the rest and let it reduce to something jam-like. If you want to, add some red food coloring (I did as soon as Jenny hit the shower... :-) ).

Thyme-pesto Ricotta
2 tbsp fresh Thyme leaves
2 tbsp Pine nuts
3 tbsp Ricotta
Lemon zest

OK, I wont try this one again in a hurry. I thought it would be nice to make a kind of pesto with thyme instead of basil... turns out thyme has a lot smaller leaves, and is a real pain in the butt to pluck, but I did manage, and although I'm not sorry in retrospect, I'll probably never try it again.

So, pluck the leaves of fresh thyme. Chop the thyme, pine nuts and lemon zest (at this point you would add oil to make pesto). Mix it with ricotta and add salt to taste.

Potato and Serpent Root Gratin
~8 Potatoes
~3 Serpent roots
½ Leek (or an onion if you want)
some Cheese (we used a piece of Cheddar the size of a potato)
3 dl Cream
some Milk

This is really just a potato gratin with some of the potatoes substituted by serpent root.

Clean, peel and slice the potatoes, serpent roots and leek. Grate the cheese. Chuck it all in an oven pot. The amount of salt should be “add until you are ashamed of yourself, and then some more” – it's really hard to have to much salt in a potato gratin. Add pepper to taste. Get down and dirty mixing it all with your hands (yes, if you want to get it really mixed there's no clean way). Add the cream and then top up with milk until the “top layer” isn't covered (but all the rest is). Bake it in the oven at 200°C for 40–50 minutes.

We didn't quite get it the way we like, we failed to mix in the cheese which stayed on top, and we had to much milk. The serpent root was a little too al dente as well, so maybe you really should try to bake it for an hour, or maybe pre-boil the roots. Or maybe you should bake it at 175°C instead, but then the meat wont like it, and we only have one oven... anyhow, it worked out quite nice anyway.

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