Recipe – Lamb Cutlets with Romesco Sauce

Lamb Cutlets with Romesco Sauce and grilled calcots
Romesco is a Spanish sauce from the region of Catalonia, where a variation called salvitxada is served as a dip for calçots, local spring onions traditionally charred over open fires – Windy Hills Farm’s baby leeks are a great Australian substitute for calçots. One of Spain’s most popular sauces – with as many variations as there are cooks – it’s very versatile, popular with seafood but also delicious with poultry and red meat. I love lamb cutlets with romesco sauce. The essential Ingredients are nuts, tomatoes, garlic, vinegar, olive oil and red peppers. Traditionally dried sweet romesco peppers were used, though today ñora peppers (most commonly used to make smoked paprika) are often included. If they’re unavailable, red capsicum and sweet smoked Spanish paprika are easy to find and give a great result. Since we’re talking Spain, I think Sherry is a perfect accompaniment … especially a rich, nutty Oloroso like Lustau’s Don Nuño, which beautifully echoes the hazelnuts and almonds in the sauce. Remove cutlets from the fridge 15-30 minutes before cooking to bring them to room temperature; and if hazelnuts aren’t skinned, toast them separately until the skin blackens then wrap in a clean, dry tea towel and rub vigorously to remove most of the skin. Any leftover sauce will keep in the fridge for a week.

Serves 4

Ingredients
  • 2 red capsicums
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1 red onion, peeled and cut into eighths
  • 1 long red chilli
  • 2 Roma tomatoes
  • ⅓ cup extra virgin olive oil, plus extra for rubbing
  • 100g blanched almonds
  • 50g skinned hazelnuts
  • 16 baby leeks or spring onions
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons sweet smoked Spanish paprika
  • 1 teaspoon salt flakes
  • 12 lamb cutlets
  • Crusty bread, for serving
Method
  1. Preheat oven to 240ºC.
  2. Place capsicum, garlic, onion, chilli and tomatoes in a baking dish. Rub with oil and bake for 20 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, toast almonds and hazelnuts in a dry frying pan for a few minutes, until lightly coloured. Set aside.
  4. Trim most of the green off the spring onions, leaving about 14cm above the bulb. Trim off the root, discard any wilted outer leaves, rinse, pat dry, rub well with oil and place in a baking dish.
  5. Remove onion, garlic, tomato and chilli from the oven.
  6. Return capsicum to the oven for a further 20-30 minutes, until skin is blackened.
  7. At the same time, bake green onions for 30-40 minutes, until well coloured and tender, turning the overhead grill on for the last few minutes if necessary to make them slightly charred.
  8. Meanwhile, peel tomatoes, squeeze garlic out of the skins, peel chilli and discard seeds and set them all aside with the onion.
  9. Place capsicum in a bowl and cover until cool enough to handle, then peel and discard seeds.
  10. Place capsicum, tomato, onion, chilli, garlic, nuts, vinegar, paprika and salt in a food processor and blend into a paste. With the motor running, drizzle in oil. Set aside.
  11. Heat a char-grill pan or frying pan.
  12. Rub cutlets with oil and sprinkle with salt.
  13. Cook for 3 minutes or so on each side, depending on thickness, until cooked to your liking.
  14. Serve with charred green onions, romesco sauce and plenty of bread.

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