Champvallon is a dish you likely haven’t heard of.
According to Larousse Gastronomique, this classic casserole dish consisting of lamb meat and thinly-sliced potatoes dates back to when Louis XIV reigned supreme. And it’s a particular favorite of Aaron Bludorn, executive chef of one-Michelin-starred Café Boulud in New York City. “[It’s] my end-all favorite lamb dish,” he boldly states. “It’s a very simple French potato and lamb dish cooked slowly with lamb jus, caramelized onions, thyme and rosemary. It’s so simple, yet so complex.”
Do as Bludhorn often does and make this elegant dish at home.
Lamb Champvallon with Yukon Gold Potatoes, Caramelized Onions, Thyme JusRecipe courtesy of Aaron Bludorn, executive chef of Café Boulud
1 lamb rack (9 ribs)
Salt, to taste
Black pepper, to taste
Olive oil, for sautéing
10 red onions, sliced
2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
15 Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled in water
10 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 pound unsalted butter
1 cup chopped parsley
1/4 cup fresh thyme leaves
1 sprig rosemary, chopped
1 pint demi-glace, divided
1. Clean the lamb rack and French the bones, then cut into individual chops, one bone per; season with salt and pepper.
2. Heat a large sauté pan to medium-high heat; add 1 tablespoon olive oil and sear the lamb chops until golden brown; remove from pan and place on a rack to cool.
3. Add 1 to 2 tablespoons oil to a large sauté pan set to medium-high heat; cook the onions until caramelized; season with some salt and deglaze with the sherry vinegar. Cook until dry and reserve.
4. Using a mandolin, slice the potatoes 1/4-inch thick. In large copper pot, 3” deep and 12” diameter, line with some butter and lightly salt; shingle the potatoes on the bottom and cover with some garlic, butter, salt, thyme, parsley, rosemary, black pepper and caramelized onions; repeat 3 times. Then around outside and middle of the pan, add another layer of potatoes, place lamb chops in the middle with only the bones sticking out. Continue to cover with potatoes and caramelized onions so that the lamb meat is completely hidden and you can only see the bones sticking out. Pour 1 cup of demi-glace over the top of the champvallon and cover with tin foil.
5. Preheat oven to 350˚F; cook the champvallon for 30 minutes and remove the tin foil. Add more demi-glace every 5 minutes until a golden brown color is achieved and the potatoes are tender, 15 to 20 minutes more. Remove from oven and let rest for 10 minutes. Serve.