Paloise is a variation of a Béarnaise sauce that originates from Pau in the Béarn itself, using mint instead of the more usual tarragon to wonderful effect with tender, juicy lamb.
Here I use chops fresh from the grill or barbecue, still sizzling, with a dollop of the buttery Paloise. Wonderful with any classy, fruity red, from claret to Rioja and on to a New World cab-merlot blend, some of the deeper hued rosés, and even a fuller throttle white to be enjoyed in the glow of a proper British summer day and the ensuing velvety evening.
- 12 meaty lamb chops or other cuts of lamb
- Sea salt and black pepper
- 200g unsalted butter (or use salted and adjust the seasoning at the end)
- 1 small bunch fresh mint roughly chopped, stalks and all
- 3 tbsp finely chopped fresh mint leaves
- 2 tbsp white wine vinegar
- 50ml white wine
- 2 shallots, peeled and finely diced
- 1 small bay leaf
- ½ tsp white pepper
- 4 free-range egg yolks (keep the whites for meringues to have as part of your dessert)
- Juice of ¼ of a lemon
- To make the Paloise sauce, gently melt the butter in a small saucepan, skimming any foam that forms on top of the butter. Once it has melted pour the butter into a warmed jug, being as careful as you can to leave behind in the saucepan any of the white solids that appear as the butter melts.
- Place the vinegar, white wine, roughly chopped mint (but not the finely chopped mint), bay leaf, and shallot into a small saucepan and bring to the boil. Once it reaches a boil immediately lower the heat and bubble the liquid until it has been reduced by half. Allow the reduction to cool slightly.
- Once the vinegar mixture has cooled down, remove the peppercorns, mint and bay leaf, and then pour the mixture into heat-proof bowl big enough to allow you to whisk. Meanwhile take a saucepan and quarter fill it with water. The saucepan should be big enough to allow the bowl of liquid to sit inside the top of it (see step 5) without touching the water while you whisk. Bring the water to a simmer.
- Add the egg yolks to the bowl of cooled liquid (it needs to be cool enough that it won't start to cook the eggs the second you put them in) and whisk gently to mix.
- Place the bowl over the pan of now simmering water, making very sure that the bottom of the bowl is not touching the water otherwise the eggs will scramble, and whisk the eggs and liquid steadily until they begin to thicken and lighten in colour.
- Very slowly pour the melted butter into the egg/vinegar mixture, whisking constantly. As the mixture thickens you can pick up the pace of pouring but don't pour too quickly as the mixture may split. The sauce is ready when it has thickened to a Hollandaise consistency, quite thick and glossy, capable of being spooned over the lamb in a silky blanket. Turn off the heat under the saucepan but with the bowl still over the water season with the sea salt and white pepper, add the lemon juice and the finely chopped mint leaves, and stir well to mix. Set aside.
- Heat a grill or barbecue, or get a griddle pan smoking hot.
- Brush the lamb with a little olive oil, season generously with the salt and black pepper, and lay the chops on the grill/BBQ/griddle. I like the griddle because of the criss-cross marks you can get, but that's just a frippery. Cook to your liking, about 4 minutes a side for pink.
- Once the lamb is cooked to your liking serve with new potatoes, peas or any green veg and spoon over the Paloise sauce, or serve in a jug for the guests to pour themselves as much as they want. Just don't give it to me first as there won't be much left for anyone else.
Wine: Full, velvety Rioja or a New World cab-merlot blend will enhance the meaty richness of the lamb to perfection.