Whenever i watch Iron Chef Sukai on SBS i am fascinated by his use of caul, a fatty membrane surrounding the organs of some animals, to encase pieces of meat. The fat of the caul keeps the mean juicy and succulent as it is being fried, or more generally, roasted.
With the same concept in mind, i have seen, and on occasion tried, wrapping lean cuts of meat in thin shaved slices of fatty prosciutto. In addition to retaining the juices of the lean meat, the prosciutto adds its own seasoning, flavor and personality to the dish.
When i was making this dish i felt like it belonged in the annals of an old Women's Weekly 'entertaining' cookbook. With the asparagus and mashed potato, the dish harks back to what was considered haute cuisine when i was younger. The retro style of the plating reflects that. However in using prosciutto rather than say, bacon, and with the addition of balance through the sweet-sour pomegranate reduction, i think i've been successful in achieving a bit of 'retro-chic' with this dish.
A note on both asparagus and the pomegranate reduction. Firstly, asapargus is best in season in Spring, when the spears shoot up from the ground and are at their sweetest and most succulent. The worst thing you can do to these delicious vegetables is overcook them! Blanch in salted water for 30 seconds at most! And to the pomegranate reduction: you can buy ready reduced pomegranate juice in the form of pomegranate molasses. But why pay $20 plus for a bottle of the stuff when pomegranate juice is easily available and ready for reduction at any local supermarket. Look for Pom, it's normally located in the fresh produce aisle of your supermarket.
Ingredients (Serves 3)
- 300gm lamb backstrap in a single piece
- 10 thin slices prosciutto
- 18 fresh asparagus spears
- 3 large potatoes (or 9 small ones)
- 2 tbsp butter
- 1 tbsp vegetable oil
- Salt and pepper
- 1 450ml bottle pomegranate juice
- 1/4 cup milk
MethodPlace the pomegranate juice in a small saucepan and simmer until reduce to about 150ml and set aside
Peel the potatoes and boil in a pot of salted water until tender.
Drain the potatoes and set aside.
Preheat oven to 160 degrees
Bend the asparagus spears until they snap (the point at which they snap will determine where the woody part ends). Discard the woody ends, and set aside the tips
Lay enough of the prosciutto out on a board, slightly overlapping, to cover the length of the backstrap (if the backstrap is thin and long, fold it in half and lay the prosciutto out to that length)
Roll the backstrap in the prosciutto and tuck in the ends of the prosciutto if possible
Heat the oil in a large frying pan over medium-high heat
Add the wrapped backstrap to the pan, with the 'seam' of the proscuitto facing down and brown for 2 minutes
Turn the backstrap 90 degrees and repeat browning for all 4 sides
Transfer to a foil lined tray and place in oven for 10 minutes
Deglaze the frying pan with the pomegranate reduction and reduce further, until thick and saucy.
Add 1 tbsp butter to the reduction and whisk through.
Pour off the reduction and set aside aside.
Finely slice the remaining prosciutto and fry in a frying pan with no oil until crisp.
Add the prosciutto, milk and remaining butter to the potatoes and mash, over low flame, to make them hot agian
Bring a pot with 2 inches of salted water to the boil and add the asparagus tip
Blanch for 30 seconds then drain and set aside.
Remove the lamb from the oven and cover with foil. Rest for 10 minutes
Slice the lamb and serve ontop of potatoes with asparagus on side.
Drizzle with pomegranate reduction