Australian Lamb Confit, Pickled Asian Pears, Shaved Porcini, Watercress, and Hazelnuts

Adapted by StarChefs.com
December 2011

INGREDIENTS:

Australian Lamb Confit
1 shoulder boneless Australian lamb
kosher salt
garlic cloves, smashed
thyme sprits
2 whole star anise, slightly broken
4 cloves
1 tablespoon black peppercorns
2 pieces orange peel
4 cups duck fat
Pickled Asian Pears
4 Asian pears
1 cup white sugar
1 cup rice wine vinegar
½ cup water
1 whole star anise
To Assemble and Serve
porcini mushrooms
butter
watercress
almond oil
Kosher Salt and freshly ground black pepper

METHOD:

For the Australian Lamb Confit:
Season the lamb shoulder generously with the kosher salt. Spread half of the garlic, thyme, star anise, cloves, pepper and orange peel evenly over the bottom of a container just large enough to hold the lamb. Put the lamb shoulder on top of the mixture, then spread the remaining garlic, thyme, star anise, cloves, pepper and orange peel over the shoulder. Cover and refrigerate overnight.

The following day, preheat the oven to 320°F. Transfer the lamb and all aromatics to a large, wide pot, and cover with the melted duck fat. Cook slowly in the oven until tender, between 2 and 3 hours. Remove from the oven, and let cool in fat. When completely cool, separate the lamb meat into manageable chunks, about 6 ounces each. Reserve the duck fat for plating.

For the Pickled Asian Pears:
Slice each Asian pear quarter into smaller wedges. Pour ½ cup of the sugar over the pears, and let macerate. In a small saucepot, combine the remaining ½ cup sugar, the vinegar, the water and the star anise and bring to a boil. Remove from the heat and let the syrup come down to about 100°F and then pour over the macerating Asian pears. Cover and set aside to cool.

To Assemble and Serve:
Preheat the oven to 400°F. In a large sauté pan over a medium heat, cook some of the reserved duck fat until hazy. Add  a piece of the Australian Lamb Confit to the pan, skin side down, and sear gently. When the skin is golden and crisp, transfer to the oven and cook until heated through. Move the lamb from the pan to a cutting board.

In a separate pan, sauté the porcini mushrooms gently in a bit of butter until lightly golden and cooked through. Transfer to a mixing bowl. Add the watercress and Pickled Asian Pears to the bowl. Cut the crisped Australian Lamb Confit into manageable pieces and add to the bowl as well. Dress the salad lightly with the pear pickling juice, a touch of almond oil, salt and pepper.