Now, before I start here, let me apologise for two things. The first apology is for simply up and leaving and locking away the old blog but I’m sure most of you would do the same with any public part of your 21 year old self. The old blog was a good friend for a long time but when I started it, I had no notion that I might one day be looking at doing this professionally and Old Blog simply didn’t have much of a professional filter. It became like an awkward childhood friend that you stick with because, and only because, you go way back but would never introduce to your current friends because, aside from the fact that Awkward Childhood Friend has many awkward habits, they remember everything Old You used to do and we never, ever want Current Friends to find out what Old You used to do. It’s rarely pretty or cool; you listened to awful music, you dated some real tall tales, you pretended to read Thomas Hardy to look clever (but never got very far) and that eyeliner and eyelash extension thing you used to wear for years was scary more than anything else. No, we love Old Friends, as long as they remain firmly in memory and not in our present.
The second thing I have to apologise for is the state of my pastry in these pictures. I mean, wow, I was just having a go about Old Blog having a distinct lack of standard or professionalism and the first recipe on New Blog has awful, awful pastry. I fear, at some point, one of my tutors is going to meander round here and be appalled that two thirds of the way through my course, I still make the detrempe too wet. I’ll get there with practice but, for now, I’ll just let you buy your own pastry or make it way better than I can rather than give you a recipe I have yet to learn properly.
The starting point of this recipe was a magazine recipe my mother stashed away. It was the centrepiece for my father’s birthday and contained pork rather than lamb. I hear it was lovely. My mother is currently in South Africa and communication vis a vis the recipe has consisted of me sending a bunch of questions and here responding a few days later without an actual answer. Clearly she is having far too much of a good time with her family in a land where it isn’t snowing. Which isn’t here; Britain has ceased to know the sun.
If you do decide not to screw around making your own pastry, this is all extremely straight forward. The tapenade ingredients are simply pulverised together in some form of pulveriser (in my case, it was a pestle and mortar, hence the chunkiness, you might have one of those small and nifty hand food processor things…my kitchen is really small and I don’t know the proper names for things I don’t have or know I need yet). The lamb is seared and let cool and then the parma ham and olive tapenade is wrapped around it before being encased and baked in its golden pastry shell. Easy as pie (or wellington).
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cooking Time: 25 minutes
- 300-350g lamb fillet
- 4-5 strips of parma ham
- Puff or Flaky Pastry
- Egg (to glaze)
For the tapenade
- A handful of black olives (about 20)
- 1/2 garlic clove
- 1 anchovy
- 1 stem of rosemary, leaves only
- lemon zest (to season)
- Preheat the oven to 200C and put the oven shelf in the top third.
- Heat up a frying pan and, when hot, season and sear the lamb fillet. Put on the side to cool. If you wrap it up straight away then the heat from the lamb will melt the pastry from the inside and it will slip right off in the oven.
- Make the tapenade by blending, bashing or processing together the tapenade ingredients. It helps if you chop the rosemary up a bit first. Season with salt, pepper and a little bit of lemon zest. It might not look like you have a lot, but you only need a thin layer around the lamb.
- Start wrapping. Roll out your pastry to about 1/3cm (pound coin) thick in a rectangle Place the strips of parma ham down next to each other down the length of the pastry. Spread half the tapenade over the parma ham. Place the cooled lamb fillet on top and spread the rest of the tapenade on the top of the lamb. Wrap the parma ham round the lamb and the pastry around the ham.
- Beat and sieve the egg (gets rid of egg white strands) and dab a little egg on the pastry at the point at which it comes together. At this point your can assemble, crimp, decorate etc as you wish. Glaze completely. Put in the fridge for ten minutes to harden up any loose fats in the pastry and glaze again.
- Bake in the oven, in the to third for 25 minutes for medium pink. It would be hard to do it for less because the pastry wouldn’t cook and if, like me, the pastry isn’t cooking properly and you have to keep it in for longer the lamb will be more well cooked but it will still be juicy and flavourful.