17 February 2015

Crunchy Lamb Spring Rolls

Okay, so you remember the lamb shoulder that I slow cooked for the Minty Aromatic Pulled Lamb Pittas?  Well, I only used half of the joint of lamb in the pittas and put the other half into the freezer while I pondered on what to use it for.

Today's Crunchy Lamb Spring Rolls is the first instalment of "making the most of a socking great piece of rolled lamb shoulder - the leftovers".

Now I've never made Spring Rolls before, but I've eaten plenty of them!  As a result, I had a pretty good idea of how they are supposed to taste.  However, I've not had a lamb version of them before, so that was something new.  Plus of course, the lamb had been marinated in about a thousand different spices before being slow cooked, so I very definitely wasn't looking for something that needed a lot of spice, or a lot of cooking.  I wanted to be able to taste the spicing on the lamb and certainly didn't want to dry it out.  All those points ruled out a lot of options that you might classically use when dealing with roasted meat leftovers.

The quarter of leftover lamb, prior to being shredded. Such leanness!
I have to say that the idea of putting it into Spring Rolls wasn't mine, it was my hubby's.  However, I liked the idea immediately and could see how it fitted the short cooking style and capitalised on the spicing of the lamb.

I'd make a rubbish cigar roller!
Before we go any further, I just have to say a few things about the wrapping.  Yes, I used filo pastry and no, I didn't use spring roll wrappers.  Why?  Well because filo pastry is easily accessible from the supermarket and spring roll wrappers aren't.  Simple as that.  I know that, in the past, I've used some bizarre ingredients that aren't generally available but as with the original recipe for the lamb, I wanted everything to be easily accessible so that the majority could have the opportunity of enjoying these recipes.  If, however, you have a shop on your doorstep that sells spring roll wrappers then by all means use them!  I'm all about accessibility, even if not authenticity.

I had 640g of lamb left from the joint (it really was huge!) and a few Spring Rolls weren't going to use all that, so I cut it in half (again) and the remainder is in the fridge awaiting its fate - Lamb and Potato Pasties.  Yum.

As it turned out, the 320g of cold lamb was perfect for 9 of these rather oversized Spring Rolls.  I think in future, instead of cutting the pastry in half, I'll cut it into thirds so as to achieve rather shorter Spring Rolls.  However, the length didn't matter one jot from a cooking point of view - it's simply a visual thing and an ease of eating thing.  Being so long, it did make the dipping of them an interesting operation that was resolved with a paper napkin under the chin - but being shorter would solve that problem rather more elegantly.

The stir fried veggies with shredded lamb and five spice.
I was concerned that the veggies would be cooked sufficiently so as to retain a bite, but not be super crunchy.  After all, there was carrot in there and you know how hard carrot can be.  I didn't want hard pencils of semi raw carrot to detract from the soft gentleness of the lamb.  As such, don't feel tempted to skip the stir frying part of the recipe.  It really doesn't take long (far shorter than prepping the vegetables did!) and is very important in bringing the right kind of texture to your Spring Rolls.

I didn't include the meat in the stir frying, as having been cooked once it didn't need any extra and the heat from the baking would be sufficient to heat it through.

So - cook's tips.  The rolling up of the things didn't go quite according to plan initially, but I did get better as we went on and the last two were perfect.  It is well worth folding the edges in before the last two turns, so as to achieve a neat pocket that prevents the filling from escaping.

Also, don't feel compelled (if you are using filo pastry) to bathe the things in oil once they are rolled.  Just a smattering brushed over the top is sufficient to achieve a nice golden colour and crisp pastry.  Too much oil can result in a greasy Spring Roll and as we're oven baking them, that would be a shame.

Because the lamb I used was quite highly spiced in its original incarnation, I only used a teaspoonful of five spice in the filling mixture.  However, if your lamb, chicken or prawns (all of which would be fab) don't already carry spice, I would increase the five spice by a half a teaspoonful, or perhaps a little more.

If you have one, I can recommend using a mandolin for the carrot julienne.  Makes it so much quicker unless your knife skills are pretty darned hot.

They (spring rolls, not mandolins) really are the easiest of things to produce - and I'll be tempted to use the leftovers from our next roast chicken for the next batch.  I'm sure that would be just as scrummy. I served mine with vegetable & egg fried rice plus a Chinese style dipping sauce, but they would be just as good with a sweet chilli sauce.  Equally, they would be great with salad or as picnic food (when the weather improves!).

CRUNCHY LAMB SPRING ROLLS  (makes 9 large sized, 12 smaller)

Ingredients :

1 tbsp peanut oil
8 good sized spring onions, chopped diagonally and including as much of the green as is possible
Half a Hispi or Pointed sweet cabbage, shredded
1 carrot, peeled and julienned finely
2 big handfuls of beansprouts
1 tsp Chinese five spice
a pinch of freshly ground black pepper
300g cooked, roasted lamb, shredded
200g filo pastry sheets
2 tbsp olive oil.

Method :

1.  Prepare the vegetables prior to needing them and heat the peanut oil in a wok until really hot.

2.  Stir fry the vegetables, keep turning them to prevent from browning in any way, until the carrots are just tender.

3.  Tip the veggies into a heat proof bowl and set aside to cool a little.

4.  Chop and shred the lamb.

5.  Add the five spice, pepper and lamb to the veggies and stir to combine.

6.  Cut the pastry pieces to size.

7.  Brush a little oil onto the edges of the top half of the first sheet.

8.  Place a spoonful (or more if you are making larger rolls) of the filling onto the lower half of the pastry sheet.

9.  Gently start to roll the filling into the pastry, keeping the pastry as tight as possible without splitting it.  Roll up to the oiled section, then fold in the edges to seal the filling into the tube.

10.  Continue to roll until the pastry sheet is taken up.  The oil should help the last bit to stick.

11.  Gently place onto a baking sheet and continue with the next pastry sheet.

12.  Once all are rolled, place into a pre-heated oven at 180degC/340degF/Gas4 for 25-30 minutes or until the rolls are golden and crispy.

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