Monday, 14 May 2007

Lamb ConFusion

The other week on Great British Menu it was the turn of my ex-employer Stuart Gillies to take up the challenge to become one of the top chefs representing the best of British cuisine at a four-course banquet to be hosted in Paris by the British ambassador to France. The cool Head Chef of Boxwood Café was up against last year's South-East England regional winner Atul Kochhar, Michelin-starred Head Chef of Benares, in a battle dubbed "the ice man versus the spice man".

I hope this won't result in my being excommunicated from professional chefdom, but last weekend I'm afraid I abandoned loyalty to my past employer and cooked something inspired by his rival. Not because Atul won the regional heat, I hasten to add. Simply because Lamb Rack and Pan-Fried Lamb Patties Flavoured with Rose Petals appealed to me more than Roasted Loin of Suckling Pig with Mustard Sauce.

When it came to it I was a lot less ambitious, not least because the damask roses aren't in flower yet. As is my custom, I put my own spin on Atul's recipe, marinating my English lamb in South American papaya, Mediterranean fennel, garlic and sambuca and Bengali mustard oil and accompanying it with Japanese kabocha and English carrots roasted with Bengali panch phoron spice mixture with a creamy garlic sauce.

Here is the result of my efforts at this fusion extravaganza. As often happens, I start out taking good photos but by the time I've finished the photographic quality has taken a nosedive. In this instance, with the clock showing past 10 p.m., my plating up skills took a bit of a nosedive also. But the food was truly delicious. Dad said it was the best meal he'd eaten this year. I guess he should get out more often.

Marinated lamb rack with panch phoron kabocha and creamy garlic sauce
Click here for my photo recipe.


Sarah said...

Yum, I know what I'll be making at the weekend! Do you buy the panch phoron mix or what quantities of the fennel, mustard, nigella, fenugreek and cumin seeds should you use?

izzie said...

i really enjot great british menu (except for that awful jenny bond)but over this series, it seems to me, that the judges have not been very consistent. In your opinion as a professional what do you think?

ros said...

Nice ideas there, Trig. I especially like the papaya-fennel-sambuca combination.

The word 'patties' holds bad memories for me, because of the horrendous things my mother cooked (and I was occasionally forced to eat) when I was small. They were oily and had a horrible flavour from, I think, burnt onion and far too much of every spice in the cupboard. Yeurch!

I'm intrigued by these ones and I would definitely like to try the rose-lamb combination in this form... if I can get over my patty phobia.;)

Trig said...

Sarah - you should be able to find panch phoron mix quite easily. As you temper the mixture it gives you the unmistakeable smell of a North Indian restaurant. The name means Bengali Five Spice and the components are in equal amounts. If you look at my photo recipe and click on the picture of the glass you will see it in close detail.

Izzie - I think they have been quite consistent in being confused, if you know what I mean. They are looking for honest British cooking that will impress the French and is also what they happen to like individually, without being too Michelin. That's a near impossibility in my view. The contestants are causing just as much trouble by offering soufflé, consommé and out-of-season apple dishes. And the arranged bitching between the contestants looks so staged. However... I think the outcomes are sufficiently interesting that I plan to write a piece about the series. I think there's a significant change in taste taking place.

Ros - welcome back! You are right about the patties and I didn't try them. I used too little papaya and would use more next time. I've used rose petals in professional kitchens but not at home. If you can get some they are definitely worth experimenting with.

S said...

Hey Trig,

I'd be intrigued to know what yourself and your classmates made of this.

Trig said...

S - Funnily enough that's been something of a hot topic at college since the news broke. I certainly won't be outside the F-Word studios with a placard, but then again I don't think I'll be first in line to try horse meat either

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