Lamb with green beans and mint - recipe
PUBLISHED: 11:53 10 June 2016
River Cottage head chef, Gill Meller, celebrates the classic partnership of lamb and mint
Fresh mint and lamb have a natural affinity; I use them together whenever I get the opportunity. Some of my favourite combos include: spiced grilled lamb kebabs with yoghurt and chopped fresh mint, barbecued lamb burgers with a mint and caper and parsley mayonnaise, and juicy lamb chops with mint and peach salad. But there are few examples of this classic marriage that seem as traditional as proper roast lamb and mint sauce. It’s a pairing as celebrated as beef and horseradish or pork and apple, and one I’m very fond of.
My mum would make a fresh mint sauce every time she served a roast leg of lamb for Sunday lunch. The meat would be carefully spiked with garlic, a hint of anchovy and fragrant rosemary, and the sauce green, clean and fresh. She would crush the chopped mint into the sugar with the back of a spoon, this helped to break it down further and release its perfumed oils. Then the vinegar would be added, a little at a time, to create the perfect balance of sweet to sharp.
Instead of cooking a whole leg of lamb, this recipe calls for leg steaks. You can get them from all good butchers and most supermarkets. They are simple to cook, beautifully tender and make for a quick yet substantial week night supper. This month we start to see the first of the season’s French beans, particularly if they have been planted early and the weather has been good. They go perfectly with the seared lamb steaks and mint.
Ingredients (serves 2)
• 400g lamb leg steaks, about 2cm thick, trimmed of sinew and any excess fat
• 3 tablespoons rapeseed or sunflower oil
• 200g French beans, topped (no need to tail)
• 1 small garlic clove, chopped or grated
• 1 tablespoon cider vinegar or wine vinegar
• 2–3 tablespoons chopped or finely ribboned mint leaves
• Sea salt & freshly ground black pepper
1 Put a large saucepan of salted water on to boil for the beans. While it’s coming up to the boil, put a cast-iron grill pan or heavy frying pan over a high heat.
2 Rub the lamb steaks with 1 tablespoon of the oil, season with salt and pepper and lay them in the hot pan. Cook for about 7 minutes, turning the meat in the pan two or three times, which will give you lamb that is nicely caramelised on the outside and still pink in the middle. Transfer to a warm plate and allow to rest while you deal with the beans.
3 While the lamb is cooking, add the beans to the pan of boiling water and simmer for 3–4 minutes or until just cooked – and still a bit crunchy. Drain the beans.
4 Add the remaining 2 tablespoons oil to the lamb cooking pan and place over a medium heat. When hot, add the garlic, stirring to ensure it doesn’t burn. Pour in the vinegar and then add the beans with the mint. Add any juices released by the lamb while it’s been resting, along with some salt and pepper. Toss the beans in the minty juices for a minute, scraping up any meaty residues from the lamb then take the pan off the heat.
5 Slice the lamb steaks thinly and serve on warm plates, with the beans alongside. If you’d like something a little starchy to round out this lovely meal, you can’t do better than boiled new potatoes – by all means minted!
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