Lamb Without Fuss

New Year 2008

At this time of year, it’s good to know that the cover is firmly on the barebecue, with its attendant paraphernalia, fire risks and food-poisoning potential, and to reach for the griddle pan instead. This recipe, which works both ways, was created by Alastair Little, the original “less is more” chef, whose focus is on seasonal ingredients, minimally handled, as opposed to the starve-in-style approach of nouvelle cuisine. The original recipe makes it part of a cous-cous salad for four, but it works with seasonal vegetables, and, provided it is cooked pink, is delicious cold. It uses a relatively inexpensive cut of meat, yet once marinated, is quick and easy to prepare.

The affinity between lamb, especially with garlic and Mediterranean herbs, and the syrah grape is unmistakeable. The dark, plummy, peppery flavours resonate with the richness of the meat, and there is enough backbone in the wine to compensate for the lack of one in the fillet. Cold lamb better suits a full, herby white wine. Leftovers from this dish, cubed and mixed with a little Greek yoghurt make a splendid filling for a lunchtime pitta pocket. If not much is happening in the afternoon, a glass or two of white Corbières would do nicely.

Ingredients

  • 2 whole lamb neck fillets
  • a large sprig of rosemary and small bunch of thyme, leaves only, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, cut into thin strips
  • 2 tbs olive oil and 4 tbsp sunflower oil, mixed together
  • 3tsp salt
  • 2 tsp black pepper

Method

Feeds two with generous leftovers.

Brush the meat with some of the oil mixture and put in to a glass dish. Strew with the herbs, garlic, salt and pepper and pour over the rest of the oil. Refrigerate overnight, or for at least 8 hours. Remove and bring to room temperature. Preheat a ridged griddle pan. Drain the meat and sear well on all sides. Reduce the heat to medium and cook, turning frequently for 15 minutes. Leave to stand for 10 minutes before carving into slices. Serve with cous-cous, ratatouille or sauté potatoes.

The original recipe, edited here for space purposes, appears in Keep It Simple by Alastair Little, published in 1993 by Conran Octopus.

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