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Justin Leboe’s cooking is smart, original, well-referenced and always fun. Vegetarian dishes are a strong point. But don’t stop there. His omnivore dishes are even more interesting. Case in point: this recipe for Lamb Tartare with Smoked Olives and Shallot Crema. If dishes can be sexy, this one’s a bombshell.

Ingredients

Pickled shallots

  • 1 whole small shallot, sliced crosswise (into rings)
  • 300 ml (1 1/4 cups) red wine vinegar 200 g (1 cup) granulated sugar

Shallot crema

  • 6 shallots, split lengthwise
  • 125 ml (1/2 cup) mayonnaise • 60 ml (1/4 cup) crème fraîche • 2 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • Salt, pepper

Burnt soy vinaigrette

  • 4 scallions
  • 100 ml (3 fl oz) dark soy sauce
  • 200 ml (3 fl oz) olive oil
  • 1 tbsp lime juice

Tartare

  • 120 g (1/4 lb) lean, tender boneless lamb (leg or loin)
  • Salt, pepper
  • 4 large green olives (preferably Castelvetrano),cold-smoked (optional), and torn into pieces
  • Parmigiano Reggiano
Method

Combine vinegar and sugar in a saucepan, add 100 ml (3 fl oz) water, and bring to a simmer over medium heat, stirring until sugar is completely dissolved. Transfer shallot rings to a heatproof bowl. Add hot vinegar mixture and set aside to cool.

Preheat oven to 200°C (400F°).

Place shallots cut side down on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet and roast until lightly caramelized. Transfer to the bowl of a food processor. Add the mayonnaise, crème fraîche and vinegar, and pulse until smooth. Taste, and adjust seasoning. Pass through a fine mesh sieve into a non-reactive container and reserve, covered, in the refrigerator.

Preheat a grill or grill pan on high.

Grill the green onions until thoroughly charred on all sides. Transfer to the bowl of a food processor, add the soy sauce, and pulse until smooth. Pass through a fine mesh strainer into a bowl. Add olive oil and lime juice, whisk until well combined, and set aside.

Trim all fat, sinew and silver skin from the lamb, and discard. Dice meat and transfer to a chilled bowl.  Add soy vinaigrette to taste, and combine well (mixture should be moist but not wet).  Season to taste.  Divide between 2 chilled plates. Add a few dollops of shallot crema around the tartare.  Garnish with olives, pickled shallots, and a little grated Parmigiano. Serve with crackers or grilled bread.

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