Lamb Tenderloin with Parsnip Purée

"I started with flavors that work very with lamb, such as mint," says Jamie Knott, executive chef of the Saddle River Inn. "This is food I love to eat, very warming and comforting."

The Saddle River Inn's Lamb Tenderloin With Parsnip Purée
photo by Laura Moss


serves 4-6

2 lbs bone-out lamb tenderloin from a trusted butcher, cut into 1- to 1.5-inch cubes
2 lbs mixed fresh vegetables such as favas, English peas, baby carrots, pearl onions, turnips, rutabaga, patty pan squash
unsalted butter
salt and pepper
extra virgin olive oil


NOTE: Before you start to cook the lamb, make sure you have the plates ready. Smear about two tablespoons of parsnip puree in the center of each plate in a circular motion. Meanwhile, heat the lamb sauce (see recipe, below) in a small pot over low heat and warm the vegetables together in a small pan with a little butter and water. Adjust seasoning on vegetables if needed. Prepare mint oil (recipe below) ahead of time.

1) Cut larger vegetables into bite-sized pieces.
2) Toss all vegetables in salt, pepper and olive oil.
3) Preheat oven to 450 degrees
4) Line a sheet pan with parchment paper. Place vegetables—one type at a time—on the paper for roasting. DO NOT roast peas and favas.
5) Roast the vegetables until tender. Carrots take 18-20 minutes; pearl onions, about 12 minutes; squash, about 10 minutes.
6) Cook peas and favas in boiling salted water for 1 minute, then shock in an ice bath. Drain in a colander and reserve for reheating in a little butter and water before serving.
7) Dust cubed lamb lightly with flour and season with salt and pepper.
8) Heat a pan to very hot, add olive oil. When oil is hot, place lamb cubes in the pan and add a tablespoon of butter. DO NOT overcrowd the pan. Cook in batches so meat doesn’t steam.
9) Lamb tenderloin cooks quickly. It is best served medium rare because there is not much fat on the meat. Turn it just once, after about a minute, then cook another minute. Then remove from the pan and drain on paper.
10) Place 8-10 lamb cubes on the puree on each plate.
11) Arrange the vegetables evenly around each plate.
12) Garnish each plate with 2 tablespoons of lamb sauce and 1 tablespoon of mint oil (see recipe, below)


Parsnip Puree
Yield: 2 quarts

2 lbs. parsnips, peeled & chopped uniformly
1 cup whole milk
1/2 cup water
2 oz. butter
1 tb salt
1 bay leaf

1) In a saucepan, heat the butter until just foaming.
2) Add the the chopped parsnips and salt and cook slowly ( no color)
3) Add the milk, water and bay leaf and bring to a simmer.
4) Cook 15 minutes or until parsnips are soft
5) Add cooked parsnips to food processor and puree
6) Pass through a strainer to make very smooth
7) Keep puree warm until serving. Or refrigerate it for future use, up to 1 week later.


Lamb Sauce
Yield: 1 quart

1 bottle red wine ( a wine you like to drink)
1 qt. veal stock ( from a store you trust)
1 tb Dijon mustard
2 tb crème fraîche
1 tsp salt
0.5 tsp fresh cracked pepper

1) In a large pot, reduce the red wine by 80 percent, then add the veal stock and reduce that by 80 percent as well.
2) When the wine/stock mixture is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, whisk in the mustard, crème fraiche, salt and pepper.
3) Transfer the sauce to a small pot, cover with a lid and keep warm until needed. The sauce can also be refrigerated and used at a later time.


Mint Oil
Yield: 1/2 pint

1 oz parsley
2 ozs basil
2 ozs mint
3 ozs extra virgin olive oil
1/2 tsp salt ( or to taste)
1 clove garlic, chopped fine

1) Pick all the herbs and make sure they are clean.
2) Blanch each herb in a large pot of boiling salted water for about 20 seconds, then strain out the herbs and immediately shock them in a large bowl of ice and water. Drain them very well, chop fine
3) In a blender combine all the ingredients and blend smooth on high for one minute.
4) Transfer the mint oil to a small container and chill in an ice bath to keep the nice green color.

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