So it seems Happy in the Kitchen is my book of the moment. I have sung praises of the foie gras brulee that I have made from this book in the previous post, so I cannot wait to make another dish.
It was with curiosity that influenced my choice of the next recipe: lamb loins in white bean sauce. Flashback to last year’s Hell’s Kitchen with Gordon Ramsay. For fans of the show, I’m sure you remember when Virginia correctly guessed the secret ingredient that was white beans for the puree the sea bass was sitting on. Ever since that episode, I was curious as to what a white bean puree or sauce would taste like and figured this recipe would be a great way to find out.
I did not have the lamb loins required by the recipe, but I have just bought a fresh leg of lamb and decided to use that instead. It should work, right? Wrong…
Unfortunately, the lamb part of this dish did not work out too well — simmering in water in a plastic wrap. For one thing it was too thick and was taking forever to cook. I do not think it was the recipe’s fault because it called for rolled up lamb loin which looked infinitely thinner. I used just a third of the leg of lamb but it was still bursting at its seams at five inches thick .With dinner time fast approaching, I decided to cut my losses and slice up the leg of lamb to sauté some of it and put the remainder in the oven to roast.
Sliced leg of lamb with white bean sauce
Adapted from Michel Richard’s Happy in the Kitchen
Leg of lamb (roasted whole or sautéed in slices) * I used just a third of the entire leg
3 cloves Garlic
2 pcs Thyme
1 bay leaf
White bean sauce
1 cup dried white beans, such as navy beans, rinsed and picked over
½ medium yellow onion, cut in half
1 large celery stalk, cut into 2 –inch pieces
1 medium tomato, cut in half
1 large piece of leek green, cut in half
2 sprigs rosemary
1 medium carrot, peeled and cut into 2-inch pieces
2 Veal bones (it originally called for the bones from the lamb loins but I did not have this since I had boneless leg of lamb)
Season the Lamb with salt and pepper. Crush the garlic. Rub over the lamb. Lay the pieces of thyme and the bay leaf on top, pour some olive oil on it and let it sit overnight.
Place the dried beans in a small pot, add enough water to cover them by 2 inches, and bring to a boil. Drain the beans, and set aside.
Line a baking sheet with paper towels. In an enameled cast-iron Dutch oven or other heavy casserole, heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil over medium high heat. In batches, brown the bones, and set the bones on the prepared baking sheet.
Pour off and discard all of the excess fat in the pot. Leave the caramelized bits on the bottom of the pot, but discard any browned fat pieces.
Spread out two large pieces of cheesecloth on a work surface. Divide the bones in half and place on the cheesecloth, keeping each bundle relatively flat. Top each group of bones with half the onion, celery, and tomato, a piece of leek green, 1 ½ sprigs of thyme, a rosemary sprig, and a smashed garlic clove. Tie up the bundles and place in the pot. Add the carrot and beans. And just enough water to cover the beans, about 4 cups, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat, cover, and simmer for 1 ½ hours. Using a potato masher, push down on the carrots and beans in the pot. The mashed beans will thicken the sauce as it continues to cook. Simmer for an additional 1 ½ hours, or until the sauce thickens.
Remove from the heat and discard the cheesecloth bundles. Strain the sauce through a fine-mesh strainer into a small sauce pan. Do not press on the beans to extract the liquid, or the sauce could be gritty;
Test consistency of sauce and further reduce if desired.
Meanwhile, remove the lamb from refrigerator and cut into ½ inch slices. Heat 1 tbs of canola oil and sauté the lamb slices to desired temperature (if roasting is preferred then I suggest putting it in the oven @350F after the first 1 ½ hour time period of the white bean sauce preparation)
Arrange the lamb slices and drizzle the white bean sauce on top of it.
This was quite an involved recipe and a bit frustrating. It took at least 3 hours to make the white bean sauce. I am making this point here because when I made this, I thought it would just take 1 ½ hours and when I saw the “simmer for an additional 1 ½ hour”, I just about flipped because this threw off my timing for dinner. Luckily I was planning on finishing the sauce first before I started the lamb. Now I had to start the lamb sooner as well as attend to the bean sauce so the hubby wouldn’t get too hungry J.
As I mentioned earlier, another hiccup in this entire process was that I had to sauté the lamb because the “simmering in a plastic wrap” did not cook the meat properly; I reflected my recipe above to what I ultimately did.
The white bean sauce was really tasty and it had a very interesting mouth-feel. It was hard to tell that it was made from beans since it was strained very gently so the resulting sauce was very refined with no gritty texture. I would hardly call this sauce extraordinary though, especially after the foie gras brulee, but I think I know what made this sauce less than stellar. The original recipe had used the fat and bones from the lamb loins, which I did not have, and those alone are very important elements to the complexity of the bean sauce.
Will I make this sauce again? Absolutely! Now that I have a handle on the timings needed to make this, I figure I can give this another chance.
I will admit I am not too crazy about simmering plastic-wrapped meat in water. This part I don’t think I will be retrying any time soon.