Food

Ten­der spring lamb cuts are an ideal ad­di­tion to leafy or cous­cous sal­ads.

New Zealand Listener - - CONTENTS - by Lau­raine Ja­cobs

Ten­der spring lamb cuts are an ideal salad ad­di­tion.

Along with the as­para­gus and fresh cheese fea­tured in my Oc­to­ber 28 col­umn, an­other joy of spring is the first ten­der lamb. Keen to get my hands on some, I called the ­Red­mayne fam­ily south of ­Whanganui, cre­ators of the award­win­ning Coastal Spring Lamb. Luck­ily, their ear­li­est lambs were be­ing sent for pro­cess­ing that day, so the care­fully packed meat ar­rived in time for our photo shoot three days later.

This early lamb is ten­der, sweet and de­li­cious. It must be care­fully cooked so that it re­tains at least a pink tinge, then it must be cov­ered and rested for 10 min­utes or more be­fore serv­ing. Pan-fry­ing, grilling, bar­be­cu­ing over coals or gen­tle roast­ing are ideal cook­ing meth­ods. Later in the sea­son, when the flavour is more ro­bust, the meat can be braised or slow-roasted for longer pe­ri­ods un­til thor­oughly cooked, with pan juices or stock to en­sure it stays moist.

This week’s recipes are perfect for del­i­cate spring lamb.

LAMB CUT­LETS WITH AV­O­CADO AND LEMON SALAD

12 well-trimmed spring lamb cut­lets

(french-cut­let style) salt and freshly ground pep­per to taste 2 baby cos let­tuces

1 large av­o­cado

2 le­mons

2 tbsp pars­ley leaves

2 tbsp tar­ragon leaves

4 tbsp av­o­cado oil

3 tbsp mi­cro­greens or herb flow­ers

Sea­son the cut­lets with salt and pep­per.

Sep­a­rate the let­tuce leaves, then wash and dry care­fully.

Peel the av­o­cado, then chop or break the flesh into neat chunks,

dis­card­ing the stone.

Peel the le­mons with a knife, re­mov­ing all the pith, then cut the flesh into neat fil­lets.

Re­move any stalks from the pars­ley and tar­ragon.

Pre­pare the salad on a plat­ter or in­di­vid­ual plates. Ar­range the salad leaves to cover the base, then top with av­o­cado and lemon and a scat­ter­ing of herb leaves.

Mean­while, heat 1 ta­ble­spoon of the oil in a fry­ing pan un­til very hot. Cook the cut­lets for about 2 min­utes on one side, then turn and cook the other side. Aim for an al­most crisp ex­te­rior with good colour and a pink in­te­rior. Rest the cut­lets for 5 min­utes be­fore pil­ing them on top of the salad.

To fin­ish, place a tan­gle of mi­cro­greens or herb flow­ers over the lamb, sea­son with a lit­tle salt, then driz­zle over the re­main­ing oil.

Serves 4.

Wine match: pinot gris.

SPICY MAR­I­NATED BAR­BE­CUED LAMB CHOPS

2 tbsp ex­tra vir­gin olive oil

2 tsp hot sauce (I used Cul­ley’s)

2 tbsp fresh thyme leaves

½ tsp salt

8 mid-loin chops

COUS­COUS

200g Is­raeli cous­cous

3 tbsp ex­tra vir­gin olive oil

2 large toma­toes (red and yel­low) as­sorted cherry toma­toes

½ red onion

1 tsp ground cumin

1 tsp sweet pa­prika

2 small cour­gettes, cut into 5cm ba­tons 2 cheeks pre­served lemon, finely

chopped ½ cup chopped pars­ley

2 tbsp red or rosé wine vine­gar salt and freshly ground pep­per to taste

Com­bine the oil, hot sauce, thyme and salt to make a mari­nade. Pour it over the chops, then stand for at least 15 min­utes.

Cook the cous­cous for 8 min­utes in salted boil­ing wa­ter. Drain well, then im­me­di­ately add a ­ta­ble­spoon of the oil, stir­ring well to en­sure the grains stay sep­a­rated.

Pre­pare the toma­toes by trim­ming the stalks. Cut each cherry tomato in half and the larger toma­toes into quar­ters. Put the cous­cous and toma­toes aside. Dice the onion.

Heat 2 ta­ble­spoons of the oil in a fry­ing pan, then cook the onion un­til soft. Add the cumin and pa­prika, then toss in the cour­gette ba­tons and cook for 2 min­utes.

Toss the cous­cous with the onion and cour­gette mix­ture, then add the toma­toes and pre­served lemon.

Mean­while, grill the chops over a high heat un­til browned, but still a lit­tle pink in the mid­dle.

To fin­ish, toss the pars­ley and vine­gar into the cous­cous with plenty of salt and pep­per to taste, then place on a serv­ing plat­ter, topped with the chops.

Serves 4.

Wine match: a young pinot noir.

Lamb cut­lets with av­o­cado and lemon salad. Left, spicy mar­i­nated bar­be­cued lamb chops.

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