Lamb Breast

I heard a rumour today that you can still get lamb breast in Morrison's, from the butcher counter. Chinese spiced lamb breast shredded in lettuce wraps, with deep fried rice noodles, here we come …

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Spicy Crusted Lamb Shoulder

I have a kilo of lamb shouder, the blade half with the bone in. I'm marinating it and plan to cook it without added liquid, in foil, very long and very slow until it falls apart. The marinade at the moment consists of:

  • a small tub of organic greek yoghourt
  • grated peel of one unwaxed lemon
  • 2 teaspoons pureed garlic
  • 1 teaspoon chiplotle chilli powder

Roasted together:

  • 1 tablespoon whole coriander seed
  • 2 tablespoons whole cumin seed
  • 1 teaspoon fennel seed
  • 2 tablespoons whole brown small mustard seed

The lamb should be sweet itself, no need to add honey or anything like that. The yoghourt and the lemon will tenderise it even more. There's a bit of heat from the chilli and the mustard (although mustard does fade on cooking). Some genial warmth and more scent from the coriander and cumin. A little sharpness and aniseed from the fennel,.

I'm tempted to add some more mid-tone warmth, ginger for example. I shall think on that. I could just introduce that in a ginger and cinnamon biriani to go with it.

THE NEXT DAY: the yoghourt was so good and thick that it has made a crust on the meat, so I have put it as is into a low oven, Gas 2.5. It's had about an hour so far and I can smell the coriander.

IN THE END: about 5 hours in the oven. The crust was dark brown, spicy and crunchy, the meat underneath was rich, moist, tender, fell off the bone, and was gently scented. We've scoffed the lot, with a wet rice with orange, ginger and warm spices. (Recipe coming in a bit.)

The key is the quality of the yoghourt, the thick Greek stuff holds together as a paste, the ordinary thinner stuff would be a marinading liquid and would cook away.

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Lemon and Garlic Lamb Shanks

We like lamb shanks. I normally do them casseroled with a classic onion and red wine sauce, but I saw this recipe in the Waitrose magazine. It was in an article about steaming things, and to be honest I couldn't be farted running in and out of the kitchen checking on the steamer water for a couple of hours. So I did it slightly differently:

  • 2 oz butter
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tsps coriander seed
  • 2 tsps ground cumin
  • Big pinch saffron threads
  • 2 preserved lemons, cut into strips
  • 1 tbsp garlic puree from a tube
  • 2 lamb shanks (we had some small New Zealand ones)

Heat the butter and olive oil in an ovenproof casserole. When it's frothing, stir in the spices, lemons and garlic. Mix well and allow to cook down a bit until the fat is impregnated with the flavours. Don't let it burn, though. Put the meat in, turning a couple of times and making sure it's well coated with the spices. Put in a low oven, Gas Mark 3 or thereabouts, for a couple of hours, longer if you like, turning occasionally.

We ate them with a steamed cauliflower, which was lovely coated with the lemony garlicky buttery sauce. The original recipe suggested serving it with a herby couscous, and that would be yummy too. It's very rich, and a gorgeous winter evening dinner.

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The Most Pretentious Menu I’ve Seen Yet

Menu from a conference dinner (the venue has a maritime / naval warfare historical connection, which may explain some of the more florid bits)
 
Warm Mousseline of Sussex Chicken stuffed with Cave Matured Roquefort and Fresh Harvested Walnuts with a Sauce of Sorrel Hollandaise and Julienne of Russet Apples
 
A Ravioli in the Colours of the Kingdom of Naples filled with Scottish Lobster, Salmon and Ginger from the Windward Islands and topped with Deep Fried Leeks
 
Cannon of English Lamb stuffed with Wild Woodland Mushrooms and Truffles, imprisoned in a pastry cage with a Sauce of Wild Rowan Berries and a Plume of French Bar-le-Duc
Black Potatoes from the Ardennes
Bundles of Vegetables gathered fresh from the garden
 
A Miniature Gateau flavoured with Liquorice from the Spanish Maine concealing a heart of liquid fire glazed with Quince Jelly and served on Lapsang Creme Anglaise with Baby Pear finished with an arabesque of purest gold.
 
Glazed Normandy Brie with Wild Mulberries and Bath Oliver Biscuits
 
Coffee and Homemade Truffles
 
I had to look up Bar-Le-Duc, it's a French preserve named after a town in Lorraine, traditionally made with whole redcurrants which have had the seeds extracted by little old ladies using a goose quill. I would normally spell Spanish Main without the "e", but otherwise there were no spelling mistakes – too many capitals but consistently used. On the whole though – YUCK – over complicated, and generally a right mess. Apparently the dessert was a sponge with something like a malteser in the middle, which in turn had a brandy liqueur centre. It wasn't popular. And the Brie was glazed with a sugar topping, so two desserts.
 
One idea worth playing with might be the Lapsang custard with a poached pear, that could be an interesting combo. 

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Noisettes Albert

Evesham Hotel – lean pieces of lamb loin with a cranberry and orange compote and a white wine sauce

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Minted Lamb, Halloumi and Watermelon Kebabs

These looked interesting. I love halloumi, but it's just way too calorific. These come in at 428 calories per 2 kebabs (recipe makes 8). Another one from a Waitrose card, June 2005.

 

20g pack fresh mint, leaves only
1 tbsp extra virgin olive
oil
1 lemon
340g pack Waitrose Diced Leg Lamb
¼ small watermelon (approx 500g peeled weight)
250g pack Cypressa
Halloumi Cheese, cut into 16 cubes
20g pack fresh coriander, roughly chopped
½ x 110g pack Waitrose Wild Roquette

Prepare and light the barbecue. If using bamboo or wooden skewers, soak 8 in cold water for at least 10 minutes to prevent them from burning. Line a baking sheet with foil if cooking under the grill.

Finely chop half the mint and place in a bowl with the juice of half the lemon and the oil. Whisk together with a fork. Season and add the lamb. Cover and place in the fridge to marinate for 30 minutes.

Remove the flesh from the watermelon, then cut into 16 cubes. Push the lamb, halloumi and melon alternately onto 8 bamboo, wooden or metal skewers. Place on a barbecue rack or on the foil-lined sheet under a pre-heated grill. Cook for 5 minutes on all 4 sides, or until the lamb is cooked to your liking.

Meanwhile, make the salad by placing the remaining mint leaves in a salad bowl with the coriander and roquette. Toss together with the juice from the remaining lemon half. Season to taste. Serve the hot kebabs with the salad.

Or you could just grill the lamb and halloumi in bigger portions, and serve on top of the salad with the watermelon, or shove it all in a pita or lavash bread.

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