Lamb is my favourite red meat, hands down. Roast has to be lamb, curry has to be lamb (but pathia or kofta?), and the pie has always got to be shepherd’s, never cottage. So when I got invited by Quality Meat Scotland to an afternoon of sharing their new recipes for cooking Scotch Lamb with Scottish food bloggers I couldn’t say yes quickly enough! And what a fantastic afternoon it was, and not just because it culminated in a plate of this 🙂
Hubby works for Scotland Food & Drink so we usually try to shop the Scottish options when we can (he makes me put things back if they’re not Scottish, honestly!!) but I learnt a couple of things at the Scotch Lamb afternoon that made me even more determined to shop Scottish when it comes to lamb.
Did you know…
1. that to qualify as Scotch Lamb, the wee bleaters have to have spent every day of their lives in Scotland – born, raised and processed?
2. that Scotch Lamb was one of the first red meats in Europe to have been granted the Protected Geographical Indication status?
3. that apparently we Scots eat only half as much lamb as the English…! #gobsmacked!
Scotch Lamb is just coming in to season now and the season continues until February/March, so there really isn’t a better time to tuck in and support Scottish, ESPECIALLY since it’s Scottish Food & Drink Fortnight right now! Not to mention all those nasty food miles you’ll be saving…
But back to the afternoon! It was held at the Edinburgh New Town Cookery School where we got to watch one of their chefs demonstrate three fairly different recipes, all using different cuts of Scotch Lamb. The first was a Lamb Biryani, which went against convention and used neck for a relatively quick cook – delicious! Second was Lamb Meatballs with Penne… I had never heard of of using tarragon with lamb before but it is a properly winning combination and one I can’t wait to try again – deliciouser! Last, and zomg not least, was the Lemony Lamb Fillet which was the most delicious dish of the three! It’s not a cut of lamb I’ve ever cooked with before, but that is going to change…
What I loved about all three of the recipes, other than the downright tastiness of them, were just how quick and easy they were to cook. And to prove it wasn’t just because the chef was good at her job we all got to pick one of the three dishes to try cooking ourselves right there and then (fyi, the Lemony Fillets seemed to be most everyone’s favourite!). It also gave all of us a chance to chat while we cooked, which was awesome as some of the bloggers were ones I’d been following for a while so it was kind of like meeting my blogging heroes 🙂
Socialising and eating aside, I came away from the afternoon wondering why I’d never really thought about cooking lamb for midweek suppers, but I realised that all of my lamb recipes are real labours of love that are better suited to the weekend. Not anymore! In fact, I’m already planning on making those tarragon meatballs tomorrow, they were that good.
If you’re interested in checking out the official recipe it’s here, along with all the other new Scotch Lamb recipes which I recommend having a peek at, but I’m going to write this up the way I cooked it on the day because it was absolutely lush, properly melt in the mouth stuff, and I don’t want to change a thing 😉
- 300g Scotch lamb fillet, all fat removed and sliced lengthways into three strips
- Finely grated zest of 1/2 lemon
- 1 clove garlic, very finely chopped
- 1/2 tsp coarsely ground black pepper
- 2 tsp olive oil 300g new potatoes, halved if large
- 20g butter
- a large handful of fresh mint leaves
- 1 tbsp sugar
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 75 ml cider or malt vinegar
- pestle and mortar, or a small bowl and rolling pin (or spoon)
- griddle pan, or large frying pan
- First things first, set your griddle pan over a high heat and leave it until it’s searing hot and literally smoking. Start a saucepan of water heating too – new potatoes, unlike their larger non-new brethren, should go into hot water and not cold apparently.
- While you’re waiting, rub the olive oil onto the lamb and then loosely sprinkle over half the lemon zest and garlic before pressing the flavouring lightly into place. Give it all a good grind of black pepper and then turn over and do exactly the same to the other side.
- As soon as the water is boiling, lightly salt and then drop in your potatoes and leave them on the boil for about 10 to 15 minutes, or until they’re tender.
- Next, make the so-ridiculously-easy-you’ll-never-buy-it-ready-made-again mint sauce. Finely chop the mint and put into the mortar or a small bowl, sprinkle the sugar and salt on top and then crush to release all that lovely minty juice from the leaves. If you don’t have a pestle and mortar, the rounded end of a rolling pin will do the job just as well, or failing that, squash it all together firmly with the back of a spoon. Add the vinegar – you might want to hold some back and taste first, adding more vinegar until you hit your preferred sweet/sour mix – and stir together well. Set aside until needed.
- By now your griddle should be smoking hot, perfect for searing the lamb fillets and giving them that lovely chargrilled flavour. Sear for about 2 to 3 minutes per side which should be enough to leave the middle perfectly pink but not bloody (if it’s too pink, just pop it back on the griddle pan for another minute or 2).
- THE IMPORTANT BIT! When you remove the fillets from the pan, cover with foil and leave to rest for about the same amount of time the lamb was cooking, so between 4 to 6 minutes depending. This allows all the lovely juices to be reabsorbed, giving you a far far juicier eat. Don’t be tempted to skip this and tuck right in, your lamb will be drier for it.
- While the meat is resting, drain the potatoes and then return them to the hot pan. If you’re not quite ready for them yet just pop the lid on to keep them warm.
- When you are ready, add the butter to the pan and break the potatoes up with the back of a fork so that they’re less mashed and more bashed. Plate the potatoes and then slice your lamb fillets and lay on top. Finally, daub with the mint sauce, and then tuck in.