Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Oregano & Thyme Marinated Lamb Chops with Cream of Corn - Dinner inspired by Neil Perry

        It's late Saturday morning and as I walk into the kitchen Mum announces that she's bought a couple of kilos of lamb chops - which means "Angie, I bought some lamb, can you cook them please?". I have always marinated lamb in rosemary and garlic and served them with either mash or roast potatoes amongst some either typical sides, eg roast pumpkin and steamed brocolli. All these things are something that my family is comfortable with eating. Lately, I've been itching to push my boundaries a little when it comes to cooking but when there's family involved I always have to operate safely and not serve up anything too different that they won't eat.

        So I went to all my usual recipe websites and searched up lamb chops but none of the results were very inspiring too me. I was also thinking about what sides to have with the lamb and thought of parsnip (inspired from dinner the night before which invoved Ryan cooking with celeriac - something both of us hadn't really tried before). I remembered that I had Neil Perry's - The Food I Love book sitting on the shelf so opened it up in search of a parsnip recipe and came across a recipe for Oregano & Thyme Marinated Lamb Chops. After having experienced Neil Perry's Cream of Corn at Rockpool Bar & Grill and finding that I also had the recipe for it in this book I knew that "one day" I would have to have a go at making it myself. Knowing that corn isn't too expensive at the moment I thought that it would be the perfect chance to give it a go. It was really the star on the plate.

        Fresh corn and leek. The place I was picking up my vegetables from only had trays of 3 cobs so I just bought 2 trays of corn (6 cobs) instead of the 8 as specified in the recipe. As it was such a small leek (I felt it was small) I used most of the white part of the stalk.

        It was hard work to cut off all the corn kernels. I was very thorough as there was barely any wastage left on the cobs.

        Neil Perry mentions that they juice some of their corn kernals to cook with. My alternative was to process them and then putting the whole lot into the pan with the rest of the corn and water to cook. Ryan asked if I strained it, I didn't as I thought why waste good corn? The corn juice is only optional, I felt that processing some of the kernals would release some of the juices which the corn can cook in.

        So all the corn and liquid goes into the pan with the sweated leeks with the butter ("just a little bit" - as the MasterChef judges like to say even when it seems like they are dumping in extreme amounts of butter). Mix around until the butter is melted and then cover and simmer for 20 minutes or so, stirring every so often so the bottom doesn't burn/get stuck to the pan.

        By the end of the cooking time all the liquid would have reduced down and you would be left with intense and super sweet corn. Reserve some of the whole corn kernals to mix through after processing the corn mixture.

        Process the corn until smooth and then mix through the reserved corn kernals and this is roughly what you should turn up with. What you get is just something that is so sweet and intense, creamy but yet still textural enough not to feel like you are eating mush. I could have just had this for dinner.

        For the lamb marinade I used dried herbs as they were already available at home and it would have been a waste to buy fresh herbs to only use a small amount (I always end up wasting good herbs because I never get a chance to use it all).

        I brown the chops in a pan and then pop them in the oven for about 15-20 minutes and they are still quite juicy and pink in the middle. Ryan's only complaint here is that I was a little light handed with the seasoning. After being criticised by Mum about being too heavy handed on the salt previously I was wary of over salting. Overall though I thought they tasted really delicious.

        So to complete the "Meat and 3 Veg" I thought I would just roast some butternut pumpkin (I love it because it has such a sweet flavour and a slightly firmer flesh which comes as a nice change). I also wanted to try out some parsnips too and turned them into some chips.

        Being my first time cooking with parsnip I wasn't sure how to handle them. While searching for parsnip recipes I read that you had to take out the core - this was a slightly tough task. I also cut my "chips" a little unevenly so there were some pieces which were crunchier or softer than the other. This peeler is also the best thing when it comes to peeling vegetables - go the asian tools.

        Would you believe this tray was one whole butternut pumpkin and 2 parsnips? They shrink considerably but the flavours are so intense after you roast them.

        I quickly boiled some sweet peas and then tossed them in some burnt butter and squeezed some lemon juice through them. Was a bit worried the sibblings wouldn't touch the parsnips and also to add some extra fibre on the side and some "greeniness" to the dish. Suprisingly all 3 sibblings put all 4 sides/vegetables on their plates.

        So it's more of a "Meat and 4 Veg" dish but who's complaining. I love my vegetables and welcome them (as long as they are cooked well and taste good). This was my plate - extra helping of creamed corn of course! I did really well without the help of Ryan on this one - he actually showed up for dinner late =D. They also say no news is good news, not a word of complaint from the family and the dishes were cleaned so I guess I can say they liked what they got. Will definately be repeating this again! =)


OohLookBel said...

Thanks for posting this! I love creamed corn and I think that homemade would be heaps better than the canned stuff. Kinda healthy, too!

chocolatesuze said...

ah i love having a variety of veg it makes things interesting lol and i super love corn yum!

Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella said...

That creamed corn looks infinitely better than any kind of tinned variety! :)

foodwink said...

I have the same cook book! Did you like the parsnips? Never cooked parsnips myself but I think I've had them at restaurants.

cyberiagirl said...

I want to eat that corn!

Angie Lives to Eat (and Cook)! said...

Hi Belle: No worries, this beats the canned stuff a million times over, definately worth the elbow grease.

Hi Suze: Hehe vegies are healthy! =D

Hi Lorraince: Thanks! =) Definately better than tinned.

Hi foodwink: The parsnips were quite nice, I couldn't remember wether or not I'd eaten them before too but was definately first time cooking with them.

Hi Rachael: Hehe, next time you're in Newtown give me a call ;)