Blanquette of lamb
Blanquette is the French term for a ragout of white meat (veal, lamb or poultry)cooked in a white stock or water with aromatic flavorings. Theoretically, the sauce is obtained by making a roux and adding cream and egg yolks. However, the roux is more often than not omitted. Blanquette had a very important place in historical cuisine and became a classic of bourgeois cookery. Blanquettes are also made with fish (monkfish) and vegetables (chard and celery). Blanquette is usually served with rice a la creole but may also be served with celeriac (celery root), halved celery hearts, carrots, braised parsnips or leeks, cucumber (cut into chunks and braised three minutes in boiling salted water, braised lettuce or lettuce hearts. Because this is a classic “white stew” there is a prejudice to serving it with any items that would add color (i.e. carrots or peas).
1 kg boneless shoulder of lamb, trimmed and cut into chunks
1.25 litres water
8 button onions
2 large carrots, thickly sliced
2 bay leaves
juice of ½ lemon
salt and black pepper
250 g button mushrooms
45 g butter
45 g plain flour
150 ml single cream
1 egg yolk
chopped parsley to garnish (optional)
Put the chunks of lamb into a large saucepan, cover with cold water, and bring to boil. Strain, and rinse the meat thoroughly to remove the scum.
Return the meat to the saucepan and pour in the measured water. Add the button onions, carrots, bay leaves, lemon juice and salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a boil, and simmer gently for 1 hour.
Add the mushrooms and simmer for 30 minutes. Lift out the lamb and vegetables, reserving the liquid, and keep warm.
Melt the butter in a small pan. Add the flour and cook, stirring occasionally, for 1 minute. Gradually blend in the reserved cooking liquid, stirring constantly. Bring to a boil, stirring, then simmer until the sauce thickens.
In a bowl, whisk together the cream and egg yolk. Blend in 2 tbsp of the hot sauce. Take the saucepan off the heat, stir the cream mixture into the sauce, then reheat very gently. Taste for seasoning. Pour the sauce over the lamb and garnish with parsley before serving.