Lamb and fresh herbs

New Zealand Listener - - THIS LIFE -

The flavour of spring lamb can be en­hanced by the use of fresh spring herbs: pars­ley, dill, thyme, sage, chervil, chives, mint, basil, new rose­mary shoots and any of the soft-leafed Asian herbs. They can also be used as a ­gen­er­ous gar­nish on lamb dishes or to add lay­ers of flavour to sauces and mari­nades.

To make a clas­sic mint sauce, finely chop

2-3 ta­ble­spoons of mint, then com­bine with ¼ cup qual­ity red-wine vine­gar, a pinch of salt and 1 ta­ble­spoon of su­gar.

For a mari­nade for lamb chops, com­bine 4 ta­ble­spoons of chopped rose­mary, 2 ­ta­ble­spoons of di­jon mus­tard, 2 ta­ble­spoons of olive oil, salt and black pep­per.

An­other de­li­cious mari­nade is made by smash­ing gar­lic cloves with salt, then adding 1 ta­ble­spoon of olive oil, fresh thyme leaves and the juice and zest of a lemon.

For a great Mediter­ranean mari­nade to spread over a leg of lamb for the bar­be­cue, com­bine 2 ta­ble­spoons of basil, a small tin of an­chovies and their oil, the juice of a lemon and 4 cloves of gar­lic in a food pro­ces­sor and grind to a paste, or use mor­tar and pes­tle.

For a gar­nish, com­bine any finely chopped fresh herb with olive or av­o­cado oil, salt and pep­per, then driz­zle over grilled lamb chops or back­straps.

Flavour a lamb shoul­der or leg for roast­ing by mak­ing small holes in the flesh with a sharp knife, then pok­ing in fresh rose­mary tips.

To bring an Asian-style flavour to any spring lamb cut, make a mari­nade of soy sauce, 1 ta­ble­spoon of fish sauce, the juice and zest of a lime and some Asian herbs, such as viet­namese mint or thai basil.

The fastest mari­nade is made by com­bin­ing 2 ta­ble­spoons of olive oil, 2 ta­ble­spoons of any fresh herbs from the list above and plenty of salt and pep­per.

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