The word ‘tian’ refers to an oval cooking dish used in Provence, France- however it also refers to layered cooking. Lamb Tian is a dish we learned to make at the Cordon Bleu school in Paris and it consists of spinach layered with tomato concasse’, topped with slices of tender lamb fillet pieces and then ‘swathed’ in a delicious mint sauce. And, oh, if you’re wondering what those fluffy-looking white balls are, they are Noisette potatoes: potato pieces cut out with a mellon baller and then sauteed in butter and oil.
This dish is perfect to impress your friends at a dinner party. It does take a bit of time to prepare due to the number of elements involved. But, as the saying goes, “No pain, no gain!”
At the Cordon Bleu school, we had to do some butchering techniques on the rack of lamb in order to source the lamb tenderloin (back strap). However, let’s not go into that- simply ask your butcher for the lamb tenderloin and also give you some lamb bones to make the mint sauce.
5 Tips for a Scrumptious Lamb Tian
1. Make Sure you use the Lamb Tenderloin cut (or backstrap) for your meat. The tenderloin cut of lamb (or ‘backstrap’) is the most tender part of the lamb. It is the portion of meat you find at the bottom of your rack of lamb and is tubular-shaped when released in one piece from the ribs. If you can’t find this cut of meat, you could try using leg of lamb pieces or another cut of meat.
2. Use the lamb bones and any meat trimmings to make a great sauce. I used to think the answer to making a good sauce was to pop a bouillon cube in a cup of hot water and add some seasonings- WRONG! To make a sauce with real flavor, you will heat the lamb bones and any meat trimmings in a fry pan along with the stock and wine (see recipe below). This allows the real lamb flavor to come through.
For my lamb bones, I used the ribs leftover from the rack of lamb- you could also use other lamb bones or ask your butcher to give you some.
3. For the Tomato Concasse’, use fresh tomatoes with the skin removed and then finely diced. ‘Tomato Concasse’ means finely chopped tomatoes in French cooking- this provides one of the layers for the Lamb Tian. You will combine the chopped tomatoes with diced onions and then let simmer until all veggies are softened together:
4. Use a medium or large pastry ring or veggie stacker to layer your Lamb Tian. I used a medium sized pastry ring. First, I placed a layer of spinach, then a layer of tomato concasse’, followed by another layer of spinach. Finally, the lamb pieces will go on top.
5. Use ‘mellon baller’ to create your Noisette potato balls for a crowning touch.
- Principal Ingredients
- 1 Lamb Tenderloin (backstrap)
- Olive Oil
- Mint Leaves
- Lamb bones
- 200 ml beef stock (3/4 cup)
- 125 ml red wine (1/2 cup)
- Mint leaf stems
- 500 grams tomatoes (2 cups)
- 220 grams onions (1 cup)
- Olive oil
- Pinch salt and sugar
- 1 kg spinach (2.2 pounds)
- Noisette Potatoes
- 2 large potatoes
- 50 grams each oil and butter (1/4 cup each)
- Pre-heat oven to 180 C or 360 F.
- Trim tenderloin of any fat and sinew. Tie the lamb piece in three places with kitchen string to hold its shape. Brush with olive oil and cover the meat with mint leaves. Place in fridge while preparing rest of recipe (at least ½ hour).
- Prepare the Mint Sauce: Heat lamb bones and any meat trimmings in fry pan with oil- color gently then drain fat from pan.
- De-glaze the pan with the red wine, then add the beef stock and mint stems. Simmer for at least 20 minutes while preparing the rest of the dish- occassionally skim fat from the sauce.
- Prepare the Tomato Concasse'- remove skins from the tomatoes. First, remove top part of the tomato core and then place an 'X' on bottom of each tomato. Dip each tomato in pan of boiling water for about 30 seconds to loosen the skin. Remove skin and seeds, then chop each tomato finely.
- Chop onions finely then 'sweat' them in fry pan with a pinch of salt and sugar. Add the tomatoes and cover pan with baking paper. Let simmer for about 10 - 15 minutes until all veggies are softened and most of the liquid has evaporated.
- Prepare the spinach- wash spinach leaves and remove stems. Roughly chop the spinach and then cook in fry pan with some butter and oil until softened.
- Prepare the Noisette Potatoes- peel the potatoes then 'gouge' out small potato balls using a melon baller.
- Heat pan of boiling water then blanche the potato balls in the hot water for several minutes until they start to soften.
- Heat oil and butter in fry pan. Over high heat, saute' the potato balls until they are cooked through and lightly golden in color. Set aside until final plating.
- Cook the Lamb Tenderloin (backstrap)- remove the meat from the fridge. Heat oil in fry pan and brown the meat on both sides- about 6 -7 minutes total.
- Cover the meat in foil and heat in oven until meat is pink (or rose') in colour on the inside- at least 10 minutes. In order to help the interior of the meat cook faster, I placed several 'cuts' in the meat about 2 cms deep so the heat can reach the inside easier.
- Remove from oven and let rest for at least 15 minutes before final plating.
- Finish off the mint sauce- reduce sauce until medium thick in consistency and then add salt to taste. If sauce has reduced too much, add some more stock or water. Remove mint stems from the sauce then add some finely chopped mint leaves.
- Final Plating- make sure all ingredients are warm before final plating.
- Place medium or large pastry ring in middle of plate. First add a layer of spinach to the bottom of the ring, followed by a layer of the tomato concasse' then another layer of the spinach. Add finely sliced pieces of lamb on top and then crown with several mint leaves.
- Add the mint sauce around side of the dish then place the noisette potato balls around the side. Phew!! You are now finished!