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How to Make Lamb Quenelles

In our last blog post, we talked about Pete's cooking demo of Duck Confit Croquettes at the Paleo f(x) event this past weekend.

Also in the demo, he emphasized that once you've learned certain cooking techniques, you can take a recipe and adapt it however you'd like. For instance, the Duck Confit Croquettes were actually a version of the Lamb Quenelles recipe that's featured in our upcoming cookbook, Paleo by Season.

In today's post, we're excited to share that recipe with you! Enjoy!

 

Lamb Quenelles

”Quenelles” traditionally refers to the method of making a mixture into football-like shapes using two spoons (or just one for the real pros) and then poaching it. In this recipe, we make a quenelle shape but fry them like croquettes. Very tasty. In addition to the sides already suggested, the lamb quenelles are great served with Chimichurri Sauce (recipe in Paleo by Season) as a snack or with a puree of squash soup.

When you get a technique like making quenelles down, you’ll soon learn that you can do one thing thirty different ways, and this is a perfect example. Anytime you have leftover braised meat and you are going to have a dinner party, use this recipe to blow your guests’ minds. You can use this same recipe with confit, brisket, pulled pork, braised chicken—you get the idea.

If you want to make them ahead of time, the uncooked lamb quenelles can be stored in the freezer for up to 2 months. On the day of service, have simply take them out and immediately move to the next step. Have everything ready to go before those guys come out of the icebox.

Ingredients

  • 1 lb (4 cups) braised lamb, warm
  • 2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
  • 1/2 cup shelled pistachios, raw and unsalted
  • 1/4 cup bacon fat or any rendered animal fat, melted
  • 1 large egg
  • Salt
  • Olive or avocado oil, for frying (the exact amount depends on the pan)

For the Batter

  • 1 large egg
  • 2 tbsp water
  • 1 cup almond flour

In a food processor, pulse the still-warm meat and parsley for 30 seconds, then add the pistachios and process for an additional 30 seconds. With the processor running, slowly drizzle the warm fat into the processor. Continue processing until the mixture becomes doughlike—it should form into a ball that rotates around the processor. Add the egg and process for 15 to 30 seconds. Taste and season lightly with salt—remembering that the fat and the braised meat are already seasoned. (I suggest you start with 1⁄4 teaspoon and add more if needed.)

Quenelles can be formed two ways: the traditional, classic way, using two spoons, or the easy way, using an ice cream scoop. The ice cream scoop method works well, though the quenelles will not be as pretty as those formed using the classic method.

  • To form quenelles the easy way: Roll the edge of an ice cream scoop along the top of your mixture. Gently fill the scoop about halfway, forming a basic quenelle that can be now be put on a sheet tray to freeze.
  • To form them the classic way: Get two same-sized spoons and a cup of warm water. The size of the spoon determines the size of the quenelles; for this recipe, use a dinner spoon. With one spoon, scoop up a generous spoonful of the mixture (it’s easier to form quenelles when there’s more mixture in the spoon). Using the inside, concave surface of the other spoon, push the mixture back onto the opposite spoon while turning your hand around the lamb mixture, holding onto the angle and creating a sharp edge to the quenelle. Dip the first spoon into the warm water and push the mixture back into that spoon while rotating. Repeat a few times until the quenelle is formed. (It will look like a little football.)

Chill the formed quenelles in the freezer for 25 minutes. Keep them separated on a sheet pan so they don’t stick together. Don’t skip this step; chilling the quenelles lets the egg wash and almond flour stick and keeps the lamb from overcooking when you fry it.

Once the quenelles have chilled, begin heating the oil. Fill a pan (I like to use a 12-inch cast iron pan) so the oil reaches 1⁄2 inch up the sides and set it over medium heat. In a medium bowl, whisk together the egg and the water. Place the flour in another bowl. One by one, roll the quenelles in the egg mixture and then gently roll in the almond flour.

When the surface of the oil looks wavy and a couple pinches of almond flour fry up quickly, the oil is ready. (If you’re checking with a thermometer, 325°F is the perfect temp.) Fry the quenelles for about 2 minutes per side, or until golden-brown. Transfer the finished ones to a plate with paper towels on it and hit them with a pinch of salt.

To get step-by-step instructions of the entire quenelle forming process plus more delicious recipes, check out our upcoming cookbook, Paleo by Season!


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