The days are beginning to lengthen and the promise of warmth and growth is definitely in the air. Our cooking habits do most certainly change with the weather. Spring to me means vibrant colours and fresh, lighter flavours, creating more opportunity to cook swift and flavourful dishes, with lots of herbs, vivid green vegetables, firm flaky fish and that perennial spring favourite: sweet, tender lamb. When you are shopping in the Market for quick spring suppers, plump for small cuts of meat that cook quickly, such as a pork tenderloin, lamb rump or chicken fillets. As well as being nifty in the cooking department, shorter cooking times often preserve those subtle spring flavours that otherwise get lost.
You can adjust this recipe to use up whatever is in your fridge. Try a different leaf or soft herb in the crustÃ¢â‚¬â€for example, sweet curly parsley will work brilliantly, as will a mix of herbs, of the kind you would use to make a classic salsa verde.
- 100g watercress
- 75g white breadcrumbs
- Olive oil
- Salt and black pepper
- 2 racks lamb, French trimmed, skin scored into diamonds
- 3-4 heaped tsp mint or redcurrant jelly
- A good hunk of butter
- 2 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
- 1 banana shallot, peeled and finely chopped
- 50ml white wine
- 300ml double cream
- 175g broad beans
- 125g peas
- Juice of ½ a lemon
- 2-3 stems mint, leaves only, finely chopped
1Ã¢â‚¬â€Preheat the oven to 200C. If you have a food processor, whizz the watercress until very finely chopped. If not, just use a knife. Mix together with the breadcrumbs, 3 tbsp olive oil and a touch of seasoning.
2Ã¢â‚¬â€Heat a tiny drop of oil in a large pan and brown the lamb on as many sides as you can, making sure the skin is given special attention so the fat renders out.
3Ã¢â‚¬â€Cool the lamb a little then spread the jelly over the scored, seared skin. Press on the breadcrumb mixture, compacting it down until it’s all used up. Roast for 20 minutes for rare, 25 for medium and 30 for well done.
4Ã¢â‚¬â€Meanwhile, to make the ragout, melt the butter then add the garlic and shallot and cook gently until softened and smelling really luscious.
5Ã¢â‚¬â€Pour in the wine, bubble for a minute or so, then add the cream, broad beans and peas. Season generously then bubble for 7-8 minutes until reduced and silky. Squeeze in the lemon juice, adding the mint too. Have a little taste and adjust the seasoning if you want to.
6Ã¢â‚¬â€Once the lamb is cooked, let it rest for a few minutes then carve the racks into cutlets and serve 3-4 per person on a bed of the lovely creamy ragout.