Flavours of France and the Mediterranean
At this time of year, when the seemingly endless European winter is getting everyone down and dropping snow on the little lambs in the fields, I turn my thoughts to France and the warm flavours of the Mediterranean. Especially now that we have bought a second home in the centre of France, fresh foods on colourful market stalls are what I’m looking for. I’m finished with plastic packaging and uniformly sized vegetables – vive la différence and give me naturally uneven veg!
I have spent time studying and holidaying in the South of France and its magical colours and flavours have stayed with me. When I think lamb – especially with Easter weekend so recent – I think of the bold, sunny flavours of the Med. Thyme, anchovies, garlic, olives, peppers, capers and oregano form a medley of taste sensations to enhance the deep flavours of this earthy, succulent meat. Olive soil is an extraordinary but easy preparation that intensifies the olive flavour in a way that makes you think you’ve never tasted olives before. It was one of ThermoHubby John’s creations for Valentine’s Day this year. You remember, every year John makes me an eight-course dinner on Valentine’s Day because there are eight letters in “I love you.”
Put these Mediterranean ingredients all together and cook them sous vide and steamed in the Thermomix and you’ve got a real winner of a dish.
Thermomix Sous vide lamb medallions, green and black olive soil, steamed courgette ribbons, Anya potatoes, sweet red pepper coulis
This recipe combines many of the sensational functions of Thermomix into a delicious and easy to prepare dish. Get your butcher to pack your lamb in a vacuum bag or try using commercially-available steaming bags so you can add the flavouring elements at the same time. We use Thermomix as a water bath to cook the lamb and its aromatic elements sous vide, then we quickly knock up a red pepper coulis (sauce) as we steam an internal basket full of potatoes and some fashionable courgette ribbons in the Varoma at the same time. My Best Friend in the Kitchen is really an extra pair of hands for this meal! Serves 2 to 3.
For the olive soil
50 g pitted green olives
50 g pitted dry black olives
For the lamb medallions
375 g medallions of lamb
3 cloves smoked garlic
2 branches fresh thyme
2 branches fresh or wild oregano (optional)
2 anchovy fillets, rinsed and patted dry
1 tsp. drained caper berries
freshly ground pepper
a drenching of olive oil
For the courgette ribbons and potatoes
1 medium courgette
8 or 9 Anya, ratte or new potatoes or your chosen number of servings and serving size
For the red pepper coulis
2 sweet pointed red peppers, stems removed and cut into large chunks (no need to deseed as these seeds are not bitter and will disappear when blended by Thermomix!)
1 large shallot or 1 small onion, peeled and quartered
a good pinch of dried red chilli flakes
salt and pepper
20 g olive oil
200 g chicken stock
olive oil for frying
Marinate the lamb in the aromatics
- Place all the lamb ingredients into a sous vide bag, mix together by hand and vacuum seal the bag. That’s if you have the paraphernalia to do so! I used some Zip’n Steam microwave steaming bags that I found at the supermarket because they are food safe and have a zip-type seal that would make them airtight and reasonably watertight. I figured I could get most of the air out and approximate the sous vide effect without the equipment. Otherwise, if you buy your meat from a butcher that has a sous vide machine, take your meat home, grab the other ingredients and take it all back to the butcher’s with a big smile and ask him to pack it up in a bag and seal it for you. Believe me, the smile is the most important element here and then you can recommend your butcher as a really helpful trader 😉
- Leave the lamb in the bag to marinate until ready to cook.
Make the olive soil
- Turbo pulse the green olives very, very briefly in your Thermomix to rough chop. Tip out onto greaseproof paper on a baking sheet. Repeat with black olives. Dry in a preheated 140° oven for 30 to 40 minutes or until the olive pieces are delicately dried.
- Chop the dried green olives up to 5 seconds/Speed 8 (try it one second at a time) until they look like soil. Repeat with the black olived but don’t over chop them or the black olives can get oily and stick together. Reserve for service.
While your olive soil is drying in the oven (step 1 above), cook the lamb medallions in your Thermomix water bath
- Fill your Thermomix bowl with 2 litres of water and insert the internal steamer basket. Warm the water to 60° C by setting your Thermomix to 60° C/10 minutes/Speed 2.
- Place your sous-vide or steaming bag packaged lamb into the internal steamer basket and cook 50° C/25 minutes/Speed 2. This amount of cooking time will gently cook your ingredients to a perfect Rare but you can increase the cooking time to achieve enhanced texture effects.
While the lamb is cooking in your Thermomix water bath, prepare the vegetables
- Prepare your courgette ribbons: wash the courgette and cut off the ends. Make ribbons with a vegetable peeler and place them on the Varoma tray. Fill your internal steamer basket with enough potatoes for your dinner guests and give them a quick rinse. (We used Rattes du Touquet that we bought in France; you can also use Anya potatoes which are available here in the UK but new potatoes or just a nice potato cut into chunks will do nicely.) And your steamer basket serves as a colander so there’s less washing up!
At the end of its cooking time, remove your lamb from the Thermomix water bath to rest and keep warm. Remove the meat from the bag and drain, reserving the cooking juices and aromatics to add to the sauce. Rinse and dry your TM bowl.
- Add the red peppers, shallot or onion, chilli flakes and olive oil to the Thermomix bowl. Chop 2 seconds/Speed 5. Scrape sides of TM bowl with spatula. Insert the internal steamer basket containing your vegetables and cook 100° C/5 minutes/Speed 1 to sauté the veg and begin warming the potatoes.
Carefully remove the internal steamer basket with the hook on the spatula and set aside. Add the cooking juices and aromatics from the lamb to the sauce. Season with salt and pepper, add the chicken stock and replace the internal steamer basket. Place the lid on the Thermomix and place the Varoma steamer on top. Cook your sauce and steam your vegetables on Varoma setting/15 minutes/Speed 2. After 10 minutes cooking time, check your courgette ribbons and remove if they’re cooked. Keep warm until service.
At the end of the cooking time, check your potatoes for doneness. Remove Varoma steamer and internal steamer basket, scrape sides of bowl with spatula and reclose lid. Blend sauce 10 seconds/Speed 9.
Keep everything warm while you colour the meat and plate up
- Heat a grill or a frying pan with a little olive oil to a moderately high heat. Colour your medallions on all sides and serve on warmed plates with the olive soil, courgette ribbons, potatoes and red pepper coulis.
Bon appétit !
After dinner notes:
“Oh my goodness, that’s good.”
“I can’t believe the intensity of flavour!”
If I have to say so myself – but ThermoHubby John agrees – this dish is sensational. The water bath cooking yields meat that is melt-in-the-mouth tender and uniformly cooked, permeated with the wonderful flavours of the Mediterranean. The black olive soil especially is out of this world. The texture is dry and airy and the taste is so intense, deep and earthy. I’ve never tasted anything like it before but it’s really so simple to make, I’ll certainly taste it again!
As a meatless variation of this dish you could pan fry monkfish tails and serve them with the other elements (olive soil, red pepper coulis and courgette ribbons) for a delightful, lighter dish.
Serve the fish with a Picpoul du Pinet white wine from the Languedoc region, and the lamb with a smooth Languedoc red such as a Faugères.
Some ingredients for this recipe were provided by Thomson Al Fresco Holidays, who offer luxury mobile home camping holidays on some of the best French campsites in Brittany, Normandy, Vendee, Champagne (near Paris), Loire valley, Charente Maritime, Aquitaine, Languedoc/Roussillon and the Cote d’Azur. I didn’t sell my soul to them, just agreed to insert a link in an appropriate place. If you’re looking for a camping holiday in some of France’s most popular regions, give them a look and decide for yourself. Bonnes vacances !