Thursday, May 10, 2007

Lamb Neck and Fennel Salad

I've already made two dishes featured in the March edition of Australian Gourmet Traveller - both by local chef George Calombaris and both having been sampled and thoroughly enjoyed at his restaurant, The Press Club.

Today I complete a trilogy with his Barbecued Lamb Neck and Fennel Salad.

Now I really couldn't use any old lamb neck and as it happens, at the local farmers' market one of the stalls was selling Saltbush Lamb - if you haven't clicked that link you might be asking "what is saltbush lamb?"

Saltbush is a plant that is being used to help combat the major problem of salinity in drylands and through research it was discovered that sheep that had grazed on this bush would have high levels of Vitamin E. This was important as a lack of Vitamin E resulted in the sheep losing muscle mass. Up until this discovery, farmers would have to give the sheep Vitamin E supplements. Another welcome side effect was that the resulting meat was also more tender and richer in flavour.

At the restaurant this dish was served with mashed potatoes and in the magazine, beetroot tzatziki is recommended to go along with it's simple Fennel salad. The method used results in a meltingly tender meat and it's cooking liquid is used to dress the salad. Now I can't honestly say it's an attractive dish but it certainly will win admirers for it's taste.


Lamb Neck and Fennel Salad

125ml olive oil
500 grams boneless lamb neck (I used Bultarra Saltbush Lamb)
6 shallots, chopped coarsely
1 red onion, chopped coarsely
2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
250ml white wine
200 grams natural yoghurt
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 lemon, zested

1 fennel bulb, shaved
6 stalks flat leaf parsley, leaves picked

Preheat the oven to 160°C/325°F.

Heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in a heavy pot - add the lamb necks and cook over a medium-high heat until they are golden brown.

Add the shallots, onions and garlic, turning the heat down a little so not to burn the ingredients and cook until they have softened, about 5 minutes.

Pour in the white wine and yoghurt followed by the honey, dried oregano, lemon zest and the rest of the olive oil. Stir to mix well and then cover and place in the oven to cook for about 1½ hours or until the lamb is tender.

When cooked, remove the lamb from the pan and set it aside.

Strain the cooking juices and toss away the solids.
Add the shaved fennel and parsley leaves to the cooking juices, mix well and then taste, adjust the seasoning as necessary.

Heat up a ridged grill pan or bbq over a high heat - add the lamb, cooking it until well browned, turning it to ensure an even colouring. It's really important that you develop a really deep colouring as this intensifies the flavour but also gives you a crisp crust to contrast the soft flesh.

When done, slice thickly and serve with the fennel salad.


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  1. AnonymousMay 11, 2007

    Now THAT looks like a divine way to use lamb - that charred crust is making me all sorts of hungry!

  2. Brilliant. I've only ever used lamb necks in stews like Irish stew. I'll definitely be trying that.

  3. Thanks Ellie - before I made this I wouldn't have thought getting that much colour into it would make that big of a difference but it's amazing how much it influences the flavour.

    Thanks Kitchenhand - I hope you enjoy it!

  4. What an interesting coincidence Haalo, I cooked lamb racks with an anise liqueur the other day! Great minds think alike eh

  5. Ah Trig, I think we are joined at the ovens ;)


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