Roasted Lamb Loin
Lamb loins wrapped in caul fat are poached, then finished in the oven. They are served with couscous laced with red bell pepper coulis. Caul fat is a lacy membrane used to wrap meats, holding them and adding moisture during cooking. Order it from your butcher. Do you wonder why recipes specify things like “with a wooden spoon?” Here a wooden spoon is specified so that stirring the mixture does not break up or cut the vegetables; the wooden spoon gives a gentler action.
- Basil-Tomato Oil
- Extra-Virgin Olive Oil - 1-1/2 cups
- Basil leaves - 4, cut in chiffonade (very narrow strips)
- Ripe Tomatoes - 4, peeled, seeded, and cut in small dice
- Red Bell Pepper Coulis
- Red Bell Peppers - 4, peeled and seeded
- Salt - 1/4 teaspoon
- Olive Oil - 3 tablespoons
- Zucchini - 1, finely diced
- Eggplant - 1, finely diced
- Red Bell Pepper - 1, peeled, seeded, and finely diced
- Green Bell Pepper - 1, peeled, seeded, and finely diced
- Garlic Cloves - 2, peeled and crushed
- Tomato Puree - 2 tablespoons
- Dry white wine - 1/4 cup
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Unsalted Butter - 8 tablespoons, softened
- Lamb Loins - 4
- Leeks - 2, long green leaves only, cleaned and blanched
- Caul Fat - 1 large sheet or 2 small sheets
- Olive Oil - 3 tablespoons
- Garlic Cloves - 12 large, roasted
- Fresh mayonnaise - 1 cup
- Couscous - 2 cups, cooked
- Spinach leaves - 8 to 12, stemmed and blanched
- Olive Tapenade - 1/2 cup
- Rosemary Sprigs - 4
To make the basil-tomato oil: Warm the oil and basil over medium heat until the oil feels very warm to the touch. Remove from the heat, stir in the tomato dice, and set aside to cool.
To prepare the coulis: Puree the 4 red peppers with the 1/4 teaspoon of salt. Press through a fine-meshed sieve; set aside.
To prepare the ratatouille: Heat the 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat and add the zucchini, eggplant, peppers, and garlic. Saute for 5 minutes, until softened, shaking the pan periodically to keep the vegetables from sticking. Remove about 1/2 cup of the mixture and set aside for the couscous. Stir the tomato puree and wine into the remaining vegetables with a wooden spoon. Season to taste with salt and pepper and cook 3 to 4 more minutes, until the mixture is pasty and quite dry. Set aside off the heat; keep warm.
To prepare the lamb: Preheat the oven to 425 F. Using some of the softened butter, butter a baking pan large enough to hold the loins, and a sheet of parchment paper large enough to fit snugly inside the top of the pan. Lay 5 to 6 leek leaves lengthwise on a work surface, overlapping them slightly and making a surface wide enough to span a lamb loin. Place a lamb loin at the thick end of the leaves and roll up into a cylinder, tucking in the leaves at the ends. Encase in a piece of caul fat, again preserving the cylinder shape. Wrap very tightly in plastic film wrap, then in foil, always making a tight cylinder. Repeat with the other loins and leek leaves. Bring a pot of lightly salted water to a rolling boil, reduce the heat to medium-high, and add the wrapped lamb loins. Poach for 7 minutes. Remove each with a slotted spoon and let rest for 1 to 2 minutes. Remove the foil and plastic wrap, leaving the caul fat wrapped around the lamb. Place the loins seam-side down in the prepared baking pan. Dot with the remaining butter and season with salt and pepper. Place the buttered parchment on top of the loins. Roast in the preheated oven for 5 minutes for rare, or longer to taste. Remove and let rest for 3 to 5 minutes.
To prepare garlic mayonnaise: Press the pulp from 4 of the garlic cloves and push through a fine-meshed sieve or puree in a small processor. Whip the garlic puree into the mayonnaise. Put the garlic mayonnaise in a squeeze bottle and set aside.
To prepare the couscous: Put the couscous in a small saucepan and stir in the red pepper coulis and reserved vegetable mixture from the ratatouille. Warm over medium-low heat until hot.
To serve: Trim the ends from the loins, then slice in half crosswise, revealing the pink centers. Gently pull the caul fat off the lamb loin halves. Place a 4-inch-by-2-inch ring mold in the center of a serving plate. Put one fourth of the couscous in the mold and pack gently. Top with a layer of spinach leaves. Finish the mold with a one fourth of the ratatouille. Lift the mold. Repeat on the remaining three plates. Draw a ring of garlic mayonnaise around the inner edge of the plates. Make four quenelles (football-shaped spoonfuls) of olive tapenade and place one on each plate. Add two roasted garlic cloves to each plate beside the tapenade. Pull a few leaves off the bottom of the rosemary sprigs and stand them in a cluster in each quenelle of tapenade. Spoon basil-tomato oil around the other side of the molded vegetables. Stand two halves of a lamb loin on each vegetable mold, sliced centers up.