Cocoa and Red Wine Lamb with White Chocolate Mash and Cocoa Nib Butter

Inspired by Hotel Chocolat ‘Roast & Conch’ Restaurant

White Chocolate Mash, which I had with the 4-Hour Lamb Pepperpot last weekend

Last weekend, I met up with a friend of mine in Leeds for a late lunch.  She suggested we go to ‘Roast & Conch‘, a Restaurant by Hotel Chocolat, where all the food contains cocoa (or, to say it properly, Cacao).

I thought that, given my love of chocolate, this was an inspired idea, and it turned out to be a fantastic lunch!

I had a starter of Potted Mackerel Ganache, followed by the 4-Hour Lamb Pepperpot with White Potato Mash.  I loved it so much that I bought a bag of Cacao Nibs there and then and resolved to try to recreate the experience at home.

The result: Cocoa and Red Wine slow-cooked Lamb with White Chocolate and Cocoa Nib Butter Mash

Slow-cooked Lamb in Red Wine and Cocoa Nibs | White Chocolate Mash

Ingredients – for the lamb (for 4 people)

  • half a shoulder of lamb joint
  • approx. half a 75cl bottle of red wine
  • a few cocoa nibs to sprinkle
  • a generous sprinkling of cocoa powder
  • fine sea salt
  • a knob of butter
  • 2tbsp of olive oil

Ingredients – for the white chocolate mash (for 4 people)

Hotel Chocolat Cocoa Nibs | Cacao Nibs | Cocoa Nibs

Cacao Nibs

  • approx. 1.2 kg potatoes
  • 200ml extra thick double cream
  • 100g white chocolate

Ingredients – for the cocoa nib butter (this makes enough for 2 meals)

  • 1tbsp cocoa nibs
  • 125g salted butter, at room temperature so it’s malleable and soft

Method

Tip: If you don’t have a slow-cooker, start off at about 120°C for ‘high’ and go to about 90°C for ‘low’.

Turn on a slow-cooker (on ‘high’).  In a non-stick frying pan, heat up the olive oil and knob of butter to a gentle sizzle.  Season one side of the lamb with sea salt and a generous sprinkling of cocoa powder, then place the seasoned side into the sizzling oil and butter to brown.  Repeat the seasoning and cocoa sprinkling on the other side.

Add a moderate sprinkling of cocoa nibs and continue to brown on all sides on a high heat, then pour on the wine.  It should almost instantly come to a sizzle/boil.  Turn off the heat immediately.

Place the lamb into the slow cooker and pour on the juices/wine from the frying pan.  Cover with a lid and leave to cook for an hour or so before turning down the slow-cooker to0 ‘low’.

Leave to cook for a further 5 hours or until the lamb falls off the bone and can be cut with a spoon (approx. total cooking time 6 hours, but this will depend on the size of the half shoulder).

cocoa nib butter

‘sausage-shaped’ cocoa nib butter once it’s cooled/set

About half an hour before the meat is ready (Tip: you can do this much earlier and keep in the fridge until needed), mix the soft room temperature butter with the tablespoon of cocoa nibs.  Place it onto a piece of clingfilm and, using the clingfilm as a barrier between your hands and the butter, roll it into a sausage shape.  Once you have the approximate shape, roll the clingfilm tightly around the butter mixture and twist the ends (like a sweet wrapper) so that the butter is squeezed into a tight sausage shape.  Place in the freezer for half an hour until hard but not frozen, then transfer to the fridge if you’ve done this in advance.  When it’s time to serve, slice into 0.5cm thick slices with a sharp knife.

Towards the end of the cooking time, peel the potatoes and cut them into approx. 2cm cubes.  Boil them or cook them in a pressure cooker until they’re cooked and crumbly but not soggy (Alternatively, for the ‘purist’ way of doing mash, boil the potatoes with their skins on, then peel them while hot to mash them immediately.  This is quite time-consuming when it’s critical to keep them hot and you need to be very careful not to burn your hands!).

Remove the lamb from the slow-cooker about 10 mins before serving time, cover with tin-foil to keep warm and allow to ‘rest’.

While the potatoes are cooking, heat up the cream in a pan on a gentle heat and add the white chocolate, broken off into squares and gently stir as the chocolate melts into the cream.  Do not boil.

Once the potatoes are cooked, drain them and place them into a bowl or back into the drained pan.  Pour on the cream and chocolate mixture and mash vigorously to obtain a smooth consistency.

Carve the lamb (it should be falling off the bone and almost carving itself into chunks rather than slices) and serve on warmed plates.  Add a generous portion of white chocolate mash to each plate and top each portion of hot white chocolate mash with a slice of the cocoa nib butter.  Drizzle on some of the red wine and cocoa nib sauce.  Serve immediately!

This dish sounds more complicated than it is – it’s actually quite simple to do, there are a few steps but none of them is difficult.  Try it – it will delight and surprise your tastebuds!

Lamb in a red wine, cocoa powder and cocoa nib sauce with white chocolate mash and cocoa nib butter – Gloriously Simple, Gloriously Good!

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Merguez

Someone asked me recently whether I had a Merguez Sausage recipe

I didn’t at the time, but it reminded me of how much I loved these North-African sausages, so I did some research

Having researched a few French language recipe sites for the basic ingredients (the French are big Merguez eaters and it is, in fact, from growing up in Luxembourg, in close proximity to France, with French Nannies/Housekeepers, that I developed my love for these spicy delights), I played around with quantities and this was the result:

Merguez

Merguez cooking on the BBQ

Merguez Ingredients:

  • Sheep Casings (I used ex. narrow hog casings because I didn’t have any sheep ones in the house, but Merguez are traditionally chippolata-thin.  I used about 10 yards of the ex. narrow hog casings, but with thinner ones, you’d need more)
  • 1.5kg approx. of Lamb Shoulder (with all the fat!) – roughly 2 shoulders of 2kg each, boned & diced by your butcher
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 2tbsp Harissa (This makes a fairly mild Merguez as my eldest daughter wouldn’t eat it otherwise.  Adjust the quantity of Harissa according to your own tastebuds – the spicier/hotter you want your Merguez to be, the more you add)
  • 60ml cold water
  • 2tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 3tsp fine sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp freshly-ground black pepper
  • 1tsp paprika
  • 3tsp Ras el Hanout (readily available in the spices area in most major supermarkets) – the one I bought had whole seeds in and other chunky bits of ingredients, so I ground them down more with a pestle and mortar
  • 1tsp fennel seeds, ground with a pestle and mortar

Method:

Depending on the sausage casings you buy, these may require soaking for a few minutes or a few hours before use

Peel the garlic and place it in a bowl with the lamb

Sprinkle on the Ras el Hanout and fennel seeds, gently mix ingredients together to ensure the meat is more or less evenly coated (this will make it easier later)

Put the meat (coated in Ras el Hanout and Fennel Seeds) and the garlic through your meat mincer/grinder on a coarse setting

Add all the other ingredients and mix well but gently, without over-working the meat

Merguez - uncooked

Merguez – freshly made, uncooked

Tip: If you want to test the flavours (I don’t mind tasting raw meat, but you get a better idea of the flavour balance in the cooked end product), make a tiny little patty and fry it up in a non-stick pan, then taste and adjust seasoning if required.  It’s always better to have to add seasoning as you can’t take it out once it’s in!

Place the sausage casings on the nozzle of your sausage-making machine, feed through the meat mixture to make one long length of merguez sausage

Once you’ve made your long one-piece merguez, twist at regular intervals (each Merguez needs to be approx. 10cm long) and snip at the twists with scissors if you wish to separate them at this point.

Grill, BBQ, Pan-fry or cook on a griddle and enjoy!

Merguez Sausage – Gloriously Simple, Gloriously Good!