Lamb Carpaccio with caponata, Knockalara sheep’s cheese and rocket
You don’t see lamb Carpaccio very often but it has such a delicate flavour. I use the rump, which is becoming a more popular cut. The rump is where the leg and the loin meet and is often served pink. Caponata is like a sweet and sour Italian stew with a lovely, deep flavour. Knockalara cheese is local to us in Waterford and it’s always nice to use sheep’s cheese with lamb meat but feta works well too.
Serves 6 as starter
- 2 x lamb rumps
- 50g rocket
- 50g Knockalara sheep’s cheese or feta
For the caponata
For the aubergines
- 1 medium aubergine, cut into 2.5cm cubes
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 teaspoon salt
For the tomato sauce
- 1x400g tin Italian plum tomatoes
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
- 1 anchovy, rinsed
- Salt and black pepper
For the vegetables
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 stalks celery, cut into 1cm cubes
- ½ onion, diced to 1cm cubes
- 1 red pepper, cut into 1cm cubes
- 45ml white wine vinegar
- ½ tablespoon caster sugar
- 1 tablespoon capers, rinsed
- 1 teaspoon tomato purée
- 5 green olives, pitted and rinsed
- To make the caponata, preheat the oven to 200ºC/gas mark 6. Sprinkle the diced aubergine with 1 teaspoon of salt and leave to stand in a colander for 10 minutes. Wash and drain the aubergine, then spread it in a single layer on a baking tray. Drizzle with olive oil and mix well to coat the aubergine evenly with oil. Bake in the oven until soft and golden, about 20 minutes, shaking the pan once or twice during cooking to keep the aubergine from sticking to the pan.
- Make the tomato sauce while the aubergines are baking. Empty the tin of tomatoes into a food processor and process until smooth. Heat the oil in a large pan with a lid over medium heat. Add the garlic and anchovy and cook until the garlic is pale gold and the anchovy has melted into the oil. Add the tomatoes, cover partially with the lid (this helps with splattering) and cook, stirring occasionally, until the tomatoes have reduced down to a thick and concentrated sauce (about 15 minutes). Add the salt and pepper to taste. Transfer the sauce to a bowl and set aside.
- To cook the vegetables, heat the olive oil in the rinsed out pan over a medium heat. Add the celery, onion and pepper, stirring once or twice, until translucent and tender, but still with a bit of a crunch, about five minutes. Add the vinegar and sugar to the pan, and continue to stir fry the veg until the vinegar has evaporated. Add the vegetables and the aubergine to the tomato sauce, stir in the purée, capers and olives. Allow to cool and serve at room temperature.
- For the lamb, preheat the oven to 180ºC/gas mark 4. Season the lamb with freshly ground pepper and salt. Put a heavy-based frying pan on a medium heat, add a little olive oil to the pan. When the oil is hot pan-fry the lamb, skin side down for about 5-7 minutes until the skin is crispy, then seal the lamb on the other side.
- Roast the lamb in the oven for 8-9 minutes, remove and allow to cool. When cool, wrap in clingfilm and place in the freezer for one hour until set – it’s very hard to cut the lamb thinly so this helps.
- Using a sharp knife or a meat slicer, slice the lamb as thinly as possible.
- To serve, divide the rocket between four plates, put a tablespoon of caponata in the centre, lay three to four thin slices of lamb on top, and sprinkle with sheep’s cheese. Serve immediately.
This recipe will make more caponata than you need but it’s lovely with fish, chicken or meat. Otherwise, freeze it for next time.
Gourmet caterer Eunice Power puts quality Irish lamb to good use, combining local ingredients with her love for Middle Eastern flavours to create versatile dishes ideal for family get-togethers, midweek meals and freezer-friendly staples
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