I’d picked up some great lamb steak from the butchers on my lunch break with the intention of creating one of Colette’s favourite meals; lamb steaks with a red wine, redcurrant and rosemary sauce, served with Dauphinoise potatoes. It sounds very posh but it’s actually really easy, and once the potatoes are in the oven you’ve got almost an hour before anything else needs doing.
On my way home I started thinking about beers that would go well with the meal, and after throwing the idea of a fruit lambic around on Twitter I was met with a few suggestions from Zak, Mark and Melissa, who all seemed to be steering me towards a lightly sweet, malty beer with a hint of fruit, rather than a sour lambic with a whack of berries. I took the gentle nudge and opted for a bottle of Odell 90 Shilling Ale, partly because I knew I had a bottle in the cupboard, and partly because it sounded like a clever match. The Odell was suggested as an option by Melissa Cole, writer of the excellent Taking The Beard Out Of Beer blog, so big thanks to her for the idea!
To make the lamb and sauce you’ll need (Serves 2)
- 2 good sized lamb steaks (or 4 small ones as I used)
- 1 clove garlic, crushed
- A few sprigs of fresh rosemary
- 1 tbsp Redcurrant jelly
- 100ml red wine
- Olive oil
To make the Dauphinoise potatoes you’ll need
(Serves 4 - If there's only two of you then have the leftovers the next day, reheated or cold)
- 300ml milk
- 300ml single cream
- Roughly 1 kg potatoes, sliced thinly into rounds
- 3 cloves garlic, crushed
Note on ingredients:
You do not need cheese to make Dauphinoise (or gratin) potatoes as the garlic and salt act to slightly curdle the milk and cream during cooking which creates a rich, slightly cheesy, buttery flavour. You can add herbs if you like but give the basic version pictured right a try first; I think you’ll be surprised by the results. Also, I don't bother peeling my potatoes when I make this dish, there's really no need from a presentation point of view and the skin helps the potato slices stay whole during cooking. Just give the potatoes a wash and get slicing. If you have leftover potatoes then store in the fridge covered in tin foil, this way you can simply reheat for half an hour in a medium oven for a quick meal the next day.
Preheat the oven to 180*C.
Butter a small-medium sized lasagne dish and season with a little salt and pepper, then add a single layer of potatoes to the dish, overlapping them so that the bottom is completely covered. Season really well with plenty of salt and pepper, sprinkle a little crushed garlic and add 3 or 4 thin slithers of butter. Repeat this process until you have layered the potatoes to the top of the dish.
In a jug combine the milk and cream and then slowly pour over the potatoes making sure all parts are equally covered. The liquid should sit just below the top layer of potatoes – use a little more milk or cream if there isn’t enough liquid.
Cook in the preheated oven for 30 minutes, then using a metal fish slice squash down the potatoes slightly so the liquid runs back over the top layer. This really helps the top to cook evenly and not catch, and helps create an evenly golden, crispy crust.
When the potatoes have been in the oven for about 50 minutes test them with a knife to make sure they are cooked right through. If they look about ready then turn the oven right down to about 120*C and prepare the lamb (which only takes about 5-10 mins).
In a very hot frying pan sear the seasoned lamb steaks in a little olive oil and butter until brown on both sides (about 1 min either side). Remove the lamb from the pan and put on a plate, then turn the heat right down.
Add the clove of crushed garlic and chopped rosemary to the pan. After a few seconds pour in the wine and deglaze the pan, scraping all the sticky bits from the bottom.
When the wine has reduced by at least a half add the redcurrant jelly and season with salt and pepper. When the jelly has dissolved add a knob of cold butter and stir until the sauce looks glossy and has thickened slightly. When the sauce is ready put the lamb steaks, along with any resting juices, back into the pan, and remove from the heat.
Remove the potatoes from the oven and divide into rectangular portions (it will serve 4 hungry people) - using a metal fish slice carefully lift the slabs of dauphinoise onto plates. Serve the lamb with the sauce spooned over the top and some buttered greens on the side.
Odell 90 shilling Ale is a perfect match for the lamb and redcurrant sauce, but it doesn't really work with the creaminess of the dauphinoise potatoes as there’s not enough cleansing hop brightness to cut through it, and the sweetness of the beer just clashes with the cream.
The beer itself has a Scottish malty sweetness you get with wee heavies and yet also displays a red hop ale lightness as well, i.e. there's just enough spicy hop character to lift things up and stop it being a malt fest.
Despite the nod towards this beer's Scottish origins it remains unmistakably American and there's that boiled sweet, fruity hard candy flavour which so many American beers display and which I've mentioned many a time before. In the finish there's a nice hop dryness which cleans the palate and stops the sweetness becoming cloying. A very well rounded beer.
It would have been a perfect match if I'd been having roasted or sautéed potatoes, but with the dauphinoise it just missed the mark. But what beer could have worked perfectly with the rich meat, sweet sauce, and creamy dauphinoise? If you've got an idea, let me know below.