On a recent visit to Ireland, where my wife’s family lives, I was treated to a delicious centerline of Connemara Lamb at the Pullman Orient Express Restaurant in Bushypark, Galway.
Famed for its fertile soil, fresh seafood and free-range meats, Ireland quietly started its culinary transformation during the 1970s when cheesemakers including Veronica Steele, Giana Ferguson and Jeffa Gill, along with organic food farmers like Rod Alston, started paying attention to quality — not quantity — in their products.
Suddenly, some of the country’s finest restaurateurs — like Myrtle Allen of Cork’s famous Ballymaloe House and Gerry Galvin of Galway’s Drimcong House — started taking notice.
Later, as the country’s economy began to boom, chefs from all over the world began flocking to Ireland for work.
“The change in Ireland’s cuisine is due to the influence of the different cultures that now live and work in Ireland,” said Laurent Janot, executive chef at Glenlo Abbey in Bushypark, Galway.
Janot, who has worked in France, Switzerland and Australia, still loves traditional Irish dishes such as bacon and cabbage and Irish stew. “But I place a lot of emphasis on quality,” he said. “My cooking motto is to use fresh quality produce at all times that require as little preparation as possible.”
Janot and chef Ciaran Gantly specialize in fresh Irish produce and meat cooked to order with a modern twist. During our visit, some of the signature items on the menu included a Salmon Roulade on a bed of aubergine (eggplant) caviar and vermouth sauce and this Centerloin of Connemara Lamb topped with black olive crust and red and yellow bell pepper coulis.
Glenlo Abbey’s Connemara Lamb With Black Olive Crust and Bell Pepper CoulisRecipe by Jason Hill – CookingSessions.com
- 4 pieces lamb centerloin
Bell Pepper Coulis:
- 1 ounce vegetable oil
- 2 teaspoons chopped garlic
- 3 ounces onion diced
- 3 pounds red or yellow bell peppers
- 8 ounces white wine
- 1 pint chicken stock
- salt and pepper to taste
- 2 1/2 pounds potatoes
- 2 cups cream plus 2 tablespoons
- 3 cloves garlic
- salt and pepper
Black Olive Crust:
- 2 pounds black olives
- 4 ounces anchovies
- 9 cloves garlic
- 2 ounces pine nuts
- Marinade the loins of lamb for at least 24 hours in a mixture of olive oil, chopped garlic and fresh herbs.
- Prepare the bell pepper coulis. Heat the oil and saute garlic and onion until translucent, without browning. Add peppers and saute until tender. Deglaze pan with white wine. Add chicken stock and bring to a simmer; cook for 15 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Puree in a blender and strain through a china cap. Adjust consistency and seasonings and hold for service.
- To prepare the potato gratin, peel and slice the potatoes (approximately 1/2 cm). Crush the garlic and bring to a boil with the cream. Season with salt and pepper. Place sliced potatoes in a baking dish with cream sauce and bake in a moderately hot oven (about 400 F) for 50 minutes.
- To prepare the olive crust, place the olives, anchovies, garlic and pine nuts in a blender and puree (not too fine). Season if needed.
- Season the loin of lamb with salt and pepper and sear in a hot pan with olive oil. Place some olive paste on top of each loin and roast in the oven for about 10 minutes (for medium/rare).
- Place a spoonful of pepper coulis in the center of the plate. Place the lamb on top, followed by the gratin potatoes and a garnish.