Grillade of Salt-Marsh Lamb, splashed with red wine

Janet Wynne Evans lets the wine tick the box and the lamb cook for a bit longer - and serves it with the rosé that everyone's talking about

Grillade of Salt-Marsh Lamb

If the point of a good grilling is to extract information, here's what I've learned from a lamb chop: don't.

Scrawny little French cutlets aside, an overzealous element is no way to treat a potentially tender chunk of loin (or leg) on the bone. I was (literally) chewing this over recently while doing battle with a prime bit of meat that would have been more at home under a Jimmy Choo than on my plate.

That would be sacrilege for a seasonal treat like a brace of thick salt-marsh Barnsley chops, infused with the floral ecosystem of the Tywi estuary, and promising that subtle tang of iodine and intriguing plant life that vanishes with overcooking.

Here, as ever, a good honest drop of wine is the answer: a glass for the cook, and another for the base of the grill pan so that it slowly turns to designer steam and permeates the chops as they burnish slowly and the rind crisps to an inviting brown.

It will take a good three-quarters of an hour and it won't be trendily pink, so why not opt for a wine that is? The recipe below welcomes wine of any colour but a super-serious dry rosé really hits the spot. Step forward Brad 'n Ange's gorgeous Miraval 2016, available now (in stylish magnums if you want to cook up for a crowd). Its owners may, sadly, have parted ways (though there are rumours now that may reunite), but the wine, crafted by the excellent Perrin family, is as solidly superb as ever.

Rosé like this needs no sun. We enjoyed it in the garden, between downpours, savouring its glorious fruit and dry, herby, incisive edge with the plumptious lamb.

One way to stay married, I suppose.


The Recipe

Grillade of Salt-Marsh Lamb, splashed with red wine

Serves two

Ingredients:

  • 2 x Barnsley (double) lamb loin chops, cut about an inch thick (or four single ones)
  • a little oil for brushing
  • sea-salt and freshly milled black pepper
  • a few sprigs of thyme, picked
  • a generous sprig of rosemary, needles finely chopped
  • 2-4 fresh bay leaves, one per chop
  • a clove of garlic, peeled and thinly sliced (optional)
  • 120ml wine, red for preference for an attractive blush

Method

A grill with variable heat controls or, at the very least, a choice of shelf settings is ideal but this is doable with a basic ON/OFF arrangement, an upturned baking tin as a height-adjuster and a watchful eye.

Firstly, line the grill pan with foil (you won't need the grid) and brush lightly with oil. Season your chops well and brush with more oil. Scatter the herbs on top and tuck the bay underneath and if you're adding garlic, strew the slivers around the chops to flavour the juices.

Finally, pour the wine into the grill pan and carefully lift it into place. Start with a quick blast of about 5 minutes on high, or nearest the element then reduce the heat to medium or move the pan down two shelf-notches.

After about 15 minutes, the rind will begin to look appetisingly brown and crisp and the wine will be at one with the oil, herbs and meat juices. The aromas from your kitchen will be glorious, drawing serried ranks of your neighbours' salivating cats to your back door. Turn the chops over at this point and admire their wine-blushed undersides. Don't add more wine, though, just let the chops chunter away until all the liquid has been absorbed. That will take about another 15 minutes. Be patient.

Then turn off the grill and leave the chops to rest for at least 10 minutes. If you're not quite ready to eat at that point, cover them with foil and keep them warm on a hot tray or low oven. I find that food you've had to wait for will always wait for you.

Janet Wynne Evans
August 2017

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