By Paul Suplee, MBA, CEC, PC-3
Is there anything better than a hunk of fresh fish or a freshly seared steak to bring a smile to your face?
I mean, unless you are a vegan, something I greatly admire, there is something so satiating about a beautiful piece of meat adorning a simple plate.
Last week, I ran across an online store selling Australian lamb loin. It is such a beautiful cut of meat, and I remember it fondly.
Truth be told, it was not unusual for me to take a small snip off the end of the loin as we were plating up.
Snacks are a critical benefit for the cook. Rather, I guess I can say that it was quality control. After all, I needed to ensure that we were serving the best product possible.
So, having received the loin yesterday, it was time to just get a little old fashioned with it.
We’re talking well-spiced, seared in a cast iron pan, over fire.
The main difference is that in years past, I’ve coated the loin in ras el hanout, the ubiquitous Moroccan spice blend. Today, I just hit it with my own simple blend.
At the restaurant, we serve a basil puree with our seafood risotto (which was removed from the menu due to this silly pandemic and staffing issues) and sometimes with steak specials.
It is a loose play on a chimichurri, but it is more accurate to call it a puree. We also use it on the Caprese salad, as I have never been a fan of raw basil leaves with fresh tomato.
The puree is a natural fit with the lamb, and if you have never made it, take the time, especially if you have a basil bush in the backyard, as many of us do.
As for the Alabama White BBQ Sauce, something else that we have always had at the restaurant, it goes exceedingly well with any of your meats, whether they be smoked or grilled. It also pairs well with smoked fish.
The final tip in this stimulating tome is from famed French chef Fernand Point from 60 years ago, with a small twist.
An eternal prankster, his short book Ma Gastronomie is a wonderful tribute to his work, and the foreword by Chef Paul Bocuse was exceptional. Point had a local fisherman friend whose boat he hid once a year on the man’s birthday, one year even hiding it up in a tree.
The year before Point’s death, on said anniversary, the fisherman looked high and low all throughout the town. He looked for hours.
Exhausted, he pleaded to Point to learn the whereabouts of his boat. Point had not touched it. It was right in the slip, where he left it. Man, I love that story.
And the tip has nothing to do with a boat or pranks. It simply comes from Chef Point. And the tip is to use half clarified butter and half oil, the latter which raises the flash point.
That’s it. Super simple. And if there is anything that will elevate a seared chunk of meat, it is going to be the proper fat in which to cook it.
Seared Lamb Loin, Cracked Pepper Spice
1 ea. 8 oz. lamb loin
1 Tbsp. Vegetable oil
1 Tbsp. Clarified butter
1 Tbsp. Cracked Pepper Spice (recipe follows)
2 oz. Basil puree (recipe follows)
2 oz. Alabama White BBQ sauce (recipe follows)
- Pat the loin(s) dry when ready to sear. Season with the cracked pepper spice and allow to sit for about 15 minutes at room temperature
- Heat oil and butter in a cast iron pan until hot
- Carefully place the seasoned loin on the oil and cook for 2 ½ minutes
- Assuring that you have a good crust after this time, turn the loin over and remove the pan from the flame. It will continue to cook due to the residual heat stored in the cast iron
- Check the temperature, as it should be at a perfect medium rare. If it’s ready, allow it to rest for a few minutes
- Remove from pan, slice and serve with the sauces, drizzling any pan drippings on the meat
Cracked Pepper Spice
makes 1 cup
1/2 c. Large flake kosher or sea salt
2 Tbsp. Cracked black pepper corns
2 Tbsp. Granulated garlic
2 Tbsp. Onion powder
1 Tbsp. Thyme
1 Tbsp. Smoked paprika
- Combine all ingredients well and set aside in an airtight container until ready to use
makes about a pint
A large handful of basil leaves, with a small amount of stem
1 c. EV Olive oil
1 c. Good red wine vinegar
Salt & Pepper, to taste
- Blend everything today, adjusting the seasoning at the end
- Refrigerate until ready to use. It will be light in color, as you have just incorporated a great deal of air into it. As it settles, it will turn a deep green
Alabama White BBQ Sauce
makes about a quart
2 c. Duke’s Mayonnaise
3 Tbsp. Sour cream
2 Tbsp. White vinegar
1 tsp. Ground black pepper
2 tsp. Granulated garlic
2 Tbsp. Coarse ground mustard
1/2 tsp. Sugar
Salt, as needed
2 Tbsp. Horseradish
- Combine everything with a whisk and refrigerate until ready to use. This is better when it gets to sit overnight or so
— Paul G. Suplee is an Associate Professor of Culinary Arts
at Wor-Wic Community College.
Find his ePortfolio at www.heartofakitchen.com.