Breast of Lamb Sainte Menehould

First off the bat, there is no denying this recipe is work. Not hard work – in fact the first stage of cooking (see, thats a sign) I barely notice I am cooking at all, such is the throw-it-together-and-bung-in-the-oven-and-pour-yourself-a-glass-of-wine nature of the thing but later on, it does get slightly more intensive than that. However, I really believe this recipe is as close as you will ever get to making a silk purse out of a sow’s ear. The lamb is as soft and tender as.. as a pillow under a crispy, buttery crust. In short, the work is worth it. I can’t pretend this is a healthy recipe, but once in a blue moon shouldn’t do you any harm, especially if you eat it as an appetiser.

Breast of lamb is possibly the cheapest cut of meat you can get. A throwaway cut of meat often, as nobody really seems to buy it anymore. I guess this is because it’s not like a lamb chop which is delicious just by virtue of a bit of salt and pepper and sticking under the grill for 10 minutes, or the ubiquitous chicken, which everybody likes. Breast of lamb is also extremely fatty, which also needs to be taken into account in any recipe you embark upon using it. I would always suggest you buy your meat from a good butcher, rather than the supermarket, especially for a cut like this but if really all you can do is buy your breast from those anaemic packets in Tesco, this will still be the nuts. Really. You’ll get a generous main for 2-3 out of this, or an appetiser for 4-6. You’ll need to serve something to cut through the richness a bit, like a citrussy salad and for a main maybe some mashed potatoes. Tartare sauce for dipping wouldn’t go amiss.

lamb ste menould

I always start mine the evening before, but if you’ve got time it can be done in a day.

Stage 1.

  • breast of lamb, mine was 750g
  • glass of white wine or made up vegetable stock
  • 1 carrot, roughly chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, smashed with the side of a large knife
  • 1 onion, roughly chopped
  • stick of celery, roughly chopped (please don’t worry too much about how you cut these up, even if you just cut each veg into 2 or 3, its ok)
  • bayleaf
  • black peppercorns
  • sprig of thyme or rosemary or both

I put all the ingredients into my slow cooker and set to medium for 4 and a half hours. That was it, really. If you don’t have a slow cooker, then gas mark 2 for 2/3 hours. You’ll know when its cooked, its very tender. Remove lamb from delicious (but now incredibly fatty) stock and leave to weighted lambcool down. When its cool enough to handle, you need to slide out a couple of bones from it. This is easy enough. You simply locate them and slide them out with your fingers. Now put your lamb on a plate, and cover with another plate which you have weighted down (I have used my pestle andd mortar here, but a couple of cans of beans world be sufficient) and leave in the fridge or a cool place for a couple of hours minimum.

Stage 2

  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • english mustard
  • 100g butter, melted
  • fine breadcrumbs, up to 100g, depending on the amount of lamb you have

dipping mixture

Turn the radio on.Cut off any obvious fat you can see on the lamb with a large sharp knife. Next thing is to cut the lamb up, into strips, about 2 of your own fingers wide and a finger long . And then, the assembly line. Take a strip of lamb and paint it with mustard. You can spread it on with a butter knife if you like. Dip it in egg and then press it into the breadcrumbs on both sides until it’s coated and then pop it onto a wire rack to dry out a bit. I would use one hand to hold and dip my lamb at all times. One messy hand with mustard, egg and breadcrumbs all over it is one thing but two is quite another. Repeat until all your lamb is coated in breadcrumbs. Preheat your oven to gas mark 4 and put the wire rack into a roasting tin. Brush the lamb with melted butter, a little on each strip and then place in the centre of a preheated oven for about 15 minutes. After the 15 minutes have elapsed , either turn the oven up to maximum or if you have a grill inside the oven, turn that on and cook until the lamb is very crispy, but not, you know, charred (Its a fine line so watch carefully).

Scoff.

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