Merino Lamb has a distinctly delicious flavour in this recipe but it’s not necessary if you have trouble sourcing it. Dried Porcini mushrooms are now readily available, and if you are in Central Otago, using wild thyme is a must! The following recipe is not exact; it is more a method to follow easily.
By Debbie Crompton
You’ll need to allow around 200g of lamb per person, potatoes, onions, fresh thyme, good chicken stock, and butter.
For a nice jus to serve with the lamb, you’ll need 2 cups Aurum Pinot Noir, 4 cloves garlic, 2-3 sprigs of thyme, 100g diced butter 2 tablespoons olive oil and 4 cups good beef stock.
“Boulangere potatoes’ translate as “Bakers Potatoes” because the dish was prepared first at home and then taken to the local bakers to cook in the residual heat of their ovens. Classically it is not made with thyme, however it is really delicious! Simply slice peeled potatoes 5mm thick. Slice enough to fill an oven proof dish and enough to serve the people you are cooking for. Put them into a large bowl. Slice an onion. There should be around 1 part onion, three parts potato. It’s important to slice the onion thinner than the potato though, because it takes longer to cook. Add the onion to the potatoes and add a good tablespoon or two of fresh thyme, without stalks. Now season generously with salt and pepper, and mix everything with your hands to ensure all the potatoes are evenly seasoned. Fill the dish with enough chicken stock to come half way up the potatoes. Dot with diced butter and bake at 180⁰C until fork tender and golden brown on top. Keep warm.
Simply blend dried Porcini Mushrooms to a powder in a small blender, coffee grinder or similar. A mortar and pestle work well too. Put the mushroom powder into a shallow dish. Pat the lamb with a paper towel. Place it into the mushroom powder to coat evenly, and turn over so that it is all covered.
Now heat a frying pan. Season the lamb evenly all over on both sides with salt and pepper.
Add a couple of knobs of the diced butter and the olive oil to the pan. Heat until the butter foams and almost begins smoking. Do not let it smoke. Add the garlic cloves and the thyme to the pan. Put the lamb in the pan and allow it to colour golden brown without burning. It’s really important that you control the heat and avoid burning at any stage, it will turn the garlic bitter and you will lose the lovely porcini mushroom flavour. Turn it over and repeat. Use a spoon to baste the nice garlicky thyme flavoured butter over the lamb as it cooks. Turn the heat down so that you can cook the lamb through to your desired degree. (Medium rare is most palatable). Remove the lamb and keep it somewhere warm to rest while you make the reduction sauce:
Pour off any oil or fat in the pan. Keep the garlic and thyme in there. Return pan to the heat and add the Pinot Noir. Use a wooden spoon to scrape off any sediment which is on the pan. This will add good flavour to your sauce. Let the wine boil and bubble down to a bare 100ml. Add the beef stock. Allow it to reduce down by half. Strain the sauce now, squashing the garlic through the sieve to add it into the sauce. Return to a clean small pot. You could keep aside till later at this stage. When ready to serve, bring the sauce up to the heat and add the rest of the diced butter one cube at a time. It will help thicken and enrich the sauce. If you find it is too thin for your liking you can bubble it down a little more, but take care to not boil furiously as it can cause the reduction to become oily and have a split appearance. Just simmer it gently.
To serve: Simply slice the rested Lamb loin and fan out onto the Boulangere potatoes.
Drizzle a little Pinot reduction over and enjoy!