With all the recent rain and generally grim weather, it may not seem that spring is upon us, but it officially starts in just two weeks – 20th March in fact.
Aside from the lighter nights and hopefully a little bit warmer weather (or although you never know with this county) that can mean one thing – amazing food.
Spring is the ultimate season for fresh produce, so as chefs, it’s definitely our favourite time of the year.
For months you are working with heavy ingredients like root vegetables and then there’s the glorious return of vibrant produce. Think fresh peas, asparagus, strawberries (and not the ones you buy from the supermarkets over the winter that last a few days if you are lucky) and, of course lamb.
Lamb is one of the most consumed meats in the UK, as loved by us chefs as it is by home cooks, but do you know that lamb can only technically be called lamb for the first year of its life only.
In the second year you are buying something hogget and after that it’s mutton. Both of these are more commonly eaten during the autumn and winter months due to their more gamey flavour; but lamb is synonymous with spring and summer.
And that’s why it’s so amazing.
Before you even think about cooking with lamb, make sure you buy it from a decent butcher and opt for British and organic if you can. Look for a deep pink colour with a dry, white fat and try to cook it as soon as you can whilst it’s fresh.
There’s various cuts and ways to cut lamb but in my recipe, I am using a rack and rump and roasting it with an amazing sauce made from the bones. Just as importantly, I am serving it with some fantastic spring produce. Enjoy.
Roast lamb two ways with charred spring onions and smoked mash.
- 300g peeled Maris pipers cut into quarters
- 75g butter
- 75g double cream
- Smoked salt
- In a pan place the potatoes in with cold water with plain table salt. Cook until the potatoes are soft and a knife can easily go straight through, drain thoroughly and place back in the pan back on the heat just to dry out the potatoes.
- Put the potatoes through a ricer, this will just give you a smooth lump free mash.
- In a separate pan heat up the butter and cream then add the mash mixing constantly. The mash should be silky and rich. Feel free to add more butter and cream. Season with smoked salt.
- 1 x pack of ready cooked beetroot
- 30g extra virgin olive oil
- 15g red wine vinegar
- 5g sugar
- Salt and pepper
- In a food processor blend all the ingredients until smooth, Season to taste and adjust if needed. It should have a slight tang to cut through the richness of the lamb. When serving just warm through.
Chargrilled spring onions and peas:
- 1 x bunch of spring onions
- 200g peas
- 15g olive oil
- Salt and pepper
- Trim the spring onions and remove any dirty layer. Toss the spring onion and peas in olive oil and salt and pepper.
- In a hot chargrill pan, char the spring onions, making sure not to burn but cook enough to make them tender and the peas are cooked through.
Simple lamb sauce:
- 300g lamb bones
- ½ a white onion chopped up
- 1 x carrot chopped up
- 3 x cloves of garlic chopped up
- 1 x small glass of white wine
- 15g butter
- In a 200oC oven place the bones and roast giving them plenty of colour, once coloured transfer to a saucepan with all the juices from the tray add the wine, onion, garlic, carrot and lamb bones.
- Cover with water and boil. Once half of the water has gone strain out the bones and veg and put the liquid back on the heat and reduce until a flavourful sauce is achieved stir in the butter.
Lamb 2 ways:
- 1 x French trimmed rack of lamb
- 1 x Lamb Rump
- 2 x sprigs of rosemary
- 2 x garlic cloves
- 20g olive oil
- Salt and pepper
Start by using a sharp knife and just scrape the bones from the rack, this will remove any leftover meat or skin and stop it burning in the oven when you roast it.
- Pat the lamb dry with kitchen towel and season well.
- Put a frying pan on the heat and add the oil get it nice and hot, placing both lamb rack and rump fat side down letting it go away from you so any fat splashes away from you.
- Add the garlic gloves and rosemary and give the lamb 2 minutes on all sides. Colour well on the fat side and making sure any visible meat is sealed.
- Take out the rosemary and garlic and place the lamb in the oven at 200oC and roast checking for 62oC on a meat thermometer for pink (around 20 minutes).
- Once the meat is cooked to your preference take out and leave to rest a minimum of 10 minutes before carving.