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Stuffed lamb crown with red wine and mushroom jus:
There are few dishes that celebrate Spring better than lamb. Donald Russell, Scotland’s finest butcher and by appointment to the Queen, has created this stunning celebratory lamb crown stuffed with a light earthy mushroom duxelles. Made from English lamb, a crown is one of the best showcases of butchery skills – it’s formed from two racks carefully trimmed then stitched together. The Donald Russell version goes one step further, the hollow of the crown is filled with mushroom duxelles and gluten-free bread crumbs. On paper it sounded intriguing – as my guests pointed out, we normally serve lamb with mint or with a berry sauce of some sort. A red wine and mushroom jus to round things off was just a way to add a little more lusciousness to the plate.
Very appropriately, the artisanal crown roast has been developed by Donald Russell as a way of helping to champion British craftsmanship. Sales of the crown will help to support the Queen Elizabeth Scholarship Trust with a donation of all proceeds to the charity. Quest aims to help ensure the survival of Britain’s cultural heritage by funding the education and training of young craftspeople.
I have to confess that although I quite often serve rack of lamb for a special occasion, I’ve never tried cooking a crown roast before and I was a little concerned about what would make a good sauce. I decided that a red wine jus with mushrooms would be a good complement for the meat and adapted a basic red wine jus to include enough porcini mushrooms to help the pairing. Jersey Royal new potatoes, spinach and spring cabbage together with the lamb made a meal fit for royalty.
To cook the lamb crown was simplicity itself. I DID get out my roasting rack set and follow the instructions given by Donald Russell. After thawing out the crown roast I let it sit in the kitchen for an hour so that the meat was at room temperature before it was put in the oven. I brushed it all over with good quality olive oil and seasoned with pepper and sea salt. Into the oven at 220c (not as hot as recommended by Donald Russell, but the highest temperature my oven reaches) for 15 minutes, then I reduced the temperature down to 160c for the next 30 minutes. Once cooked (those timings are for medium), I let the roast rest under a foil tent for 15 minutes while I finished the vegetables and reheated the jus I’d made earlier.
Despite being a ‘bone in’ roast, a crown is very easy to carve into lamb cutlets. And, somehow the mushroom duxelles helps to keep this particular version really moist and tender. Nevertheless, the red wine and mushroom jus was a delicious accompaniment. It’s something that works very well with all kinds of red meat and game – beef and venison steaks, pigeon breasts and even pheasant for example. It can be made in bulk and frozen. A basic red wine jus is something everyone needs to know how to make. And, this version, thickened with mushrooms, can easily be made vegetarian too – perhaps something to enjoy with a vegetarian Wellington for example. Here’s the recipe I used. Feel free to adapt it to your own taste by adding different herbs, using beef or chicken stock or by using a mirepoix of vegetables rather than the mushrooms.
A delicious mushroom and red wine jus which can be served with all kinds of red meat or with vegetarian bakes
- 200 ml Red Wine
- 200 ml Stock I used vegetable stock because I didn't want to overpower the lamb.
- 40 g Unsalted Butter
- 2 cloves Garlic crushed or finely chopped
- 1 small Onion or Shallot finely chopped
- 15 g Dried Porcini Mushrooms soaked in 30 ml of warm water for at least 20 minutes
- 1 Sprig Fresh Rosemary
- 1 Bayleaf
- Salt and Pepper to Taste
- 1-2 tsp Aged Balsamic Vinegar
Melt half the butter in a small pan over a low heat
Add the crushed garlic and finely chopped onion or shallot, together with the rosemary and bay leaf.
Cook over a low to medium heat until the edges of the onion just start to caramelise
Pour in the wine and bring to a gentle simmer. Reduce down by 50% (about 15 minutes)
Add the stock, the water from soaking the mushrooms and the chopped mushrooms themselves and season as necessary. Take care not to add too much salt at this stage as the mixture still needs to reduce down.
Simmer for 15-20 minutes till the mixture has reduced by half again
Add 1-2 teaspoons of aged balsamic vinegar and taste. Season as necessary
Either strain for a light jus or remove the herbs and blitz the remaining mixture till smooth
Stir through the remaining butter and put to one side until you need it.
The jus can safely be made in advance and frozen for a couple of months or kept in the fridge for 3 days.
I made the mushroom and red wine jus in advance so cooking dinner was actually really straightforward. The joy of this kind of roast meat is that there’s a real wow effect with very little effort. When I make the dish again, I think I’d probably try cooking it to medium pink by cutting the oven time by 5 minutes. And, there’s a little child in me that wanted paper trim crowns for each of the bones. But, for a first attempt at cooking a crown of lamb, I don’t think I did too badly. Or is it just a testament to the quality of the produce from Donald Russell? Why not try for yourself the next time you have a special meal to make.
To find out more about Donald Russell products check their website
Disclosure: I was gifted the Crown of Lamb by Donald Russell for the purpose of writing this review. All content is editorially given.
Looking for something different? Here are a few recipes you might like to try out
– I love game and you can buy frozen pheasant breast fillets all the year round from Donald Russell. Why not try my pheasant breast in white wine sauce
– Spicy pork tostadas are an easy supper dish you make with pork fillet or tenderloin – one of those undervalued cuts of meat you can buy at a reasonable price from Donald Russell
– Finally, a skinny Toad in the Hole made with real butcher’s sausages is something quite special. Pick Donald Russell Beef Sausages if you are trying to keep the calories down