A Michelin-starred chef’s tender, slow-cooked, flavour-filled lamb
Kitchen Cabinet: The Wild Honey Inn’s Aidan McGrath shares a classic French recipe
Navarin of lamb: scrag end of lamb, aka neck fillet, can withstand the extended cooking time
I love to use the cheaper cuts of meat. For this recipe you need to use a cheap cut that becomes tender and full of flavour when cooked slowly and gently for a long time in the oven.
Choose a cut such a scrag end of lamb, now called neck fillet, or shoulder, that can withstand the extended cooking time. I use neck fillet of lamb. Ask the butcher to bone out and tie it for you. This holds the meat together and makes it easier to brown in one or two pieces. It makes carving easy too.
Lamb in your butcher shop is usually from a local farmer, especially here in the Burren, on the north west coast of Co Clare. And mountain lamb grazing on the heath is as organic as you will get, and full of flavour.
You could also use a pressure cooker for this, it does reduce cooking time to under an hour (40-50 minutes), depending on the meat used. This is a great way to cooking casserole style dishes like this one. I would keep the meat on the bone for this recipe, if cooking this way. The benefits of the pressure cooker are the sealed pot traps the aroma inside, you use it on a lower heat and it’s quicker.
Here, I’m using the old style casserole dish. Please read the whole recipe and method before starting.
Aidan McGrath is chef and owner at Wild Honey Inn in Lisdoonvarna, Co Clare.
Navarin of neck fillet of lamb
2 lamb necks, boned and rolled
2 large peeled carrots, cut into four pieces, equal in size
2 large parsnips cut into 4 pieces as above
1 leek, cut into four pieces (optional)
½ dessertspoon tomato puree
12 new potatoes, cooked and peeled and left whole
2-3 medium onions, finely chopped
500g leaf spinach and a little grated garlic
500-750ml lamb jus/stock
200-300ml red wine, plus extra to deglaze
8 peeled whole cloves garlic
Salt and milled pepper (l use white peppercorns)
1 Bouquet Garni (2 x thyme, 1 x rosemary, 1 x large bayleaf, 1 x sprig curley parsley, 2 x pieces celery stick, tied together)
Little pomace oil or light olive oil
Salsa verde to serve (optional)
1 Boil the potatoes ahead of time and peel them when they are still warm.
2 Turn on the oven to 120-130 degrees Celsius and heat up two rings on the hob, one for the casserole and one for the pan to seal the meat and vegetables.
3 Season the meat with salt only and seal with good colour on all sides in a hot pan with oil.
4 At the same time cook the finely chopped onion and garlic cloves, with a pinch of salt, in the casserole. Add the wine and reduce and add the tomato puree.
5 When the meat is well coloured, put it into the casserole and reduce the heat.
6 Roast the root vegetables off in the pan. Set the root vegetables aside. Deglaze the pan with the extra wine, reduce and add to the lamb. Then add the stock and bouquet garni to the casserole.
7 Bring to the simmer and skim off any scum from the surface. Cover with a lid and cook in the oven for approximately 1½ hours.
8 Take the casserole from the oven and add the coloured root vegetables. Bring to the simmer on the hob and return to the oven for one hour, until the meat and vegetables are tender.
9 Some 20 minutes before finishing time, add the boiled potatoes into the liquor to reheat, and you can also add the leeks now, if using. Turn down the oven to 100 degrees Celsius. The residual heat will finish off the dish. Check the meat with a roasting fork, if it slips off easily, it’s done.
10 The liquor should not boil or the jus will look cloudy and grey from the potatoes, the meat will toughen and the vegetables will overcook.
11 To serve, aaute the washed spinach off in a pot with a little butter and some grated garlic, for two to three minutes, season and serve.
Chef’s tip: Some summer greens can also be used at the end, for example peas, broad beans, French beans, griotte onions. They will cook in the residual heat at the end and add a touch of summer colour.
2-3 cloves garlic
1 big handfuls of fresh flat leaf parsley
1 bunch of fresh basil
1 bunch of fresh mint
5 quality anchovy fillets
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
8 tbsp red wine vinegar
8 tbsp really good extra virgin olive oil
1 Place all ingredients in a blender and blend. Season to taste. Remember the anchovies are salty. Adjust with either vinegar or olive oil.
Kitchen Cabinet is a series of recipes from chefs who are members of Euro-Toques Ireland, who have come together during the coronavirus outbreak to share some of the easy, tasty things that they like to cook and eat at home #ChefsAtHome