Monday 23 May 2011

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Lamb is not just for Easter - serve it all summer long!

You can pretty much guarantee that the new season’s lamb will be in pride of place on Easter Sunday in the form of a magnificent roast leg or shoulder but then as the year progresses into summer it tends to take a back seat. Lamb is tender; lamb is succulent, easy to cook and if you marinade it first , it won’t take long to cook, even if you like it well done.
Choose cutlets, chops or steaks for the char-grill, barbeque, grill or frying-pan. If time is not an issue slow roast lamb can be a summertime feast in your garden. Chop shoulder into portion-size chunks add some tropical fruit and marinade with Indian spices and roast quickly in the oven. Cut shoulder into smaller pieces and marinade in lemon and fennel seeds, thread onto skewers and grill or simply seal and cook in light tomato sauce with peas.
However you cook your lamb, serve it with lightly cooked new vegetables such as broad beans, peas, artichokes, runner beans, courgettes cabbage and potatoes as they come into season. Serve the vegetables hot, tossed in melted butter with mint or thyme, warm in a French dressing with dill or tarragon or cold in mayonnaise with chives or basil.

Sicilian Style lamb cutlets with lemon and garlic

Some years ago I spent Easter in Palermo with my family and curious to know how the locals spent Easter Sunday I was told they escape to the woods outside the town for a cook out. We had lunch in a beautiful seafood restaurant and then took to the woods. It was amazing – we think we love the countryside but there were families everywhere, people were as thick on the ground as the trees. Smoke wafted everywhere and the woods wer heavy with the fragrant scent of roasting lamb.

1 kg thin cut lamb cutlets
6 cloves garlic
Juice of two 2 lemons
5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 bay leaf – torn
Freshly ground black pepper
To Serve
100 g wild rocker
Coarse sea salt
Lemon wedges
Serves 4 – 6

Put the lamb cutlets in a large plastic freezer bag, and then add the garlic, lemon juice, olive oil, oregano, bay leaf and plenty of black pepper. Seal tightly and leave to stand for 1 – 24 hours – as time allows, turning from time to time to allow even distribution of the marinade. Marinate at room temperature for short periods of around an hour – otherwise put the bag in the fridge.
When ready to cook, drain the cutlets and reserve the marinade. Put the cutlets on a pre-heated griddle, grill pan or barbeque and cook for 5 – 30. This will depend on three things - how you like your lamb cooked - the thickness or thinness of the cut - how hot your cooking pan is. Turn the lamb as necessary, basting with the reserved marinade.
Spread the rocket onto a large serving platter and arrange the lamb cutlets on top, sprinkle with salt and serve with lemon wedges.

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