Just because it’s the first Monday of the New Year, don’t think you are getting away with it.
BTW, hope you all had a Happy New Year.
Christmas came and went, now New Year has done the same.
This week and next most people are taking down the Christmas decorations and dismantling the tree, albeit real or fake.
I posted about Christmas trees back in November Simple Green Ideas, giving an alternative to real or fake trees.
But many people need a real tree to complete the Christmas spirit. So, what are you going to do with it now?
Throw it away? Recycle it? Cook it?
Yes, I said cook it!
No, I haven’t slipped a cog, I haven’t lost it.
How to cook chump of lamb roasted with Christmas tree – recipe
This is one of the dishes we put on after Christmas in the restaurant. It uses the Christmas tree both as aromatic and as a bed to cook the lamb on, giving a wonderful scent to the meat and keeping Christmas cheer alive in our minds. We serve this with potato mousseline and either red cabbage braised with cranberries, or buttered sprout tops with toasted brown breadcrumbs, grated chestnuts and lots of black pepper.
Chump of lamb roasted with Christmas tree
Four 250g lamb chumps, trimmed
Salt and pepper
50ml olive oil
60g unsalted butter, cubed
Four 4in/10cm branches of Christmas tree, plus a few extra Christmas tree needles, for flavour
200ml lamb jus (or good quality stock)
For the potato mousseline:
1kg Desiree potatoes, peeled [waxy pink-red skin]
125g double cream
100g unsalted butter
Salt and white pepper
For the lamb
Heat the oven to 200C/390F/gas mark 6. Season the lamb chumps. In an oven-proof pan, heat the oil and half the butter and, when hot, sear the lamb on all sides. Remove from the pan, add the Christmas tree branches to release their scent, turn over and lay the lamb on top, fat side up. Roast for 15-20 minutes, remove from the oven and leave to rest for about 15 minutes.
Pour the lamb stock and a few Christmas tree needles into a saucepan, bring to a boil, to reduce, then whisk in the remaining butter little by little. Season to taste, pass through a fine sieve and set aside.
For the mousseline
Cut the potatoes into even-sized pieces of about 6cm square. Rinse them, then place in a large saucepan, cover with cold water and add a good pinch of salt.
Bring to a boil, turn down to a simmer and cook for 20 minutes, until tender.
Drain, and place on a baking tray and pop them into the hot oven for two to three minutes, to dry out. Meanwhile, put the cream and butter in a saucepan, bring to the boil then simmer until reduced by half. Push the potatoes through a sieve (this is how restaurants get that super-smooth mash) into a bowl, then beat in the cream-and-butter mix, and season.
To serve, place a generous spoonful of mousseline on each plate, carve each lamb chump into five pieces and lay on top of the potato. Dress with your chosen vegetable (red cabbage or sprout tops) and spoon over the lamb jus.
So, you can have your Christmas tree… and cook it too!
Okay, this doesn’t recycle the whole tree, but the novelty of Christmas lingering on counts.