Lamb chops with cauliflower and cheese (a boarding school staple)
Lamb chop dinner is one of those things that I grew up with when I went to a boarding school from the ages of 12-17 (boy, that was fun). Anyway, the lamb chops were cremated and the cauliflower & cheese were very gluey.
So I thought, surely, I can do better than that
Steam the cauliflowers – I start with carefully splitting the cauliflowers into florets (I try not to cut through the natural florets because it gets messy) and steam them for a short while (you don’t really want to cook it at this point – just sort of pre-cook because it will need to be baked in the oven for another 15 minutes or so).
Make the Béchamel sauce – While the florets are steamng, heat about 2 tbsp of butter in a saucepan. To this I add about 2 tbps of finely chopped onion (this is an extra – the Béchamel sauce does not have onion in it but I like it, so) and two dried bay leaves (fresh bay leaves are so amazing, I shall have to have a bay tree one day). I cook the onion until translucent on medium heat and add about 2 tbsp of plain flour to make a roux. We really only want a blond roux so I only cook it for about a minute or so with the heat slightly turned down. I then turn the heat up and add cold milk (I find that cold milk is perfectly acceptable) and this is when a lot of whisking takes place. Add a bit of milk at the time until you get it to a sauce consistency and leave the sauce to simmer for a few minutes. I then season it with a little bit of vegetable stock powder (I like Vegeta and Massel), ground nutmeg and the usual salt and pepper.
Make the Cauliflower and Cheese – I layer an oven dish with the white sauce, steamed cauliflower and sprinkle with grated mozzarella cheese. I found this frozen in the freezer and after I defrost it by leaving it sitting on the kitchen bench for about half an hour. The cheese strands were still frozen but I thought that was okay. I wasn’t too sure if this would still work but I didn’t want to go out and buy more cheese. So I chanced it and it worked! Ladies and gentlemen, it is okay to freeze grated mozzarella cheese – for baking anyway. So I repeat with another layer and finish off with the sprinkling of the cheese on the top layer. I bake it in a hot oven (220′ C) for 15 minutes or so.
Steam the peas and carrots – I steam the carrots for about 5-7 minutes. At the very end, I threw on the frozen peas and leave them for about a minute and then I turn the heat off. Leave them for another minute or so. I found the frozen peas in the freezer. I have no idea how long J has been hanging on to them. They are a bit crappy.
Pan fry the lamb chops – I use an iron-cast griddle pan to ‘barbecue’ the chops. They are leg chops so they have a bit less fat. They are about 3/4 of an inch thick and they need about 3 minutes on each side and they also need to rest on the pan with the heat off for another 3-4 minutes.