Recipe: Lamb cake with pea, anchovy and mint

This recipe came about after a conversation with chef Stephen Terry of The Hardwick in Abergavenny about fish cakes which he makes with finely diced and sweated fennel, leeks, celery, onion, garlic and chili plus lemon zest, horseradish, tomato sauce, Dijon mustard, Worcestershire sauce, basil, tarragon and parsley mixed into the potato and fish base. My version replaces the fish with braised lamb neck and Terry's long list of veg and condiments with peas and shallots and an anchovy, caper and mint mayonnaise which gives the cake lightness as well as loads of flavour. I served the cake with braised shank and pan fried chump of Richard Briggs's amazing Shetland lamb which you can order online between September and December annually (last orders for 2014 are 29 November).

Lamb cake with braised shank and roast chump of Richard Briggs's Shetland lamb 

(makes 8 generous sized cakes)

For the braised lamb neck 
1 whole neck of Shetland lamb or 500g lamb neck on the bone
1 carrot, chopped
1 onion, chopped
1 stick celery, chopped
1 tbsp tomato puree
440ml Guinness
1 bay leaf
1 tbsp rapeseed oil
sea salt
black pepper

For the mayonnaise 
2 egg yolks
7.5ml cider vinegar
1 tsp Dijon mustard
75ml extra virgin olive oil
75ml vegetable oil
1 tbsp capers, chopped
15 mint leaves, finely chopped
4 anchovy fillets, finely chopped
juice of half a lemon
sea salt
black pepper

For the cakes
800g potatoes, peeled weight, boiled
150g frozen peas, defrosted but not cooked
2 banana shallots, finely diced and sweated in 1 tbsp olive oil
flour for dusting
vegetable oil for shallow frying
sea salt
black pepper

Pre-heat the oven to 150ºC. Heat the rapeseed oil in a heavy bottomed frying pan, season the lamb then fry in the oil until browned all over. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on kitchen paper. Add the carrot, onion and celery to the pan and sweat until coloured. Add the tomato puree and cook over a low heat for 5 minutes, stirring all the time. Add the Guinness, deglazing the pan as you go. Put the lamb into an casserole dish and pour over the vegetables and Guinness mixture. Add water if necessary but the lamb should be partially uncovered. Add the bay leaf, cover the casserole and braise in the oven for 2 hours or until completely tender - the meat should fall off the bone. Allow to cool then remove the meat from the bone, shred and set aside. Strain the braising liquid and reduce and use to make a jus or gravy.

Make a mayonnaise by combining the yolks, vinegar and mustard in a bowl. Season with salt and pepper, then slowly whisk in the oils. Add the capers, mint and anchovy then taste to check the seasoning. Add as much of the lemon juice and salt and pepper as you think necessary.

In a large bowl, crush the potatoes then mix in the lamb, peas and shallots, then stir in half the mayonnaise. If the mixture is too tight, add more mayo a tablespoon at a time until your achieve the desired consistency (you may need to add the full amount). You want it reasonably loose but not sloppy or batter-like. Chill for 2 hours in the fridge.

Pre-heat your oven to 180ºC. Form the mixture into 8 balls then flatten out into thick cakes. Dust with flour, tapping away the excess. Heat the vegetable oil in a roomy frying pan and fry the cakes for 2-3 minutes on each side until nicely browned (you may need to do this in batches. Transfer to a rimmed baking sheet and cook in the oven for 8 minutes or until they are hot in the middle. Serve with braised or roast lamb. The cakes re-heat successfully in the oven. Serve any left over topped with an egg and some hollandaise for brunch the next day.    


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