We’ve all been complaining a lot about the weather this summer. It has truly been a mixed bag, almost like Britain has developed a monsoon season. To make it worse, the rain likes to make itself manifest at weekends or at around 6pm.
The weather is trying to spite office workers! How rude!
During the day, it has certainly been hot enough to go out with just a t shirt on, but my leather coat remains in my bag in case the heavens decide to open a little bit earlier than expected.
The rapidly changing temperatures really confuse my appetite. As I went food shopping last Tuesday, it was a very warm and humid 22 degrees. I had a bit of a bargain binge, picking up half price duck breasts, and some lamb neck fillet reduced from £5 to £2.05 and half price broad beans. I was thinking lamb kebabs using some super cheap veg from the Turkish grocers and a broad bean and feta salad (feta also seems to be one of the grocers’ cheap items). Sadly, as I went to leave Sainsbury’s I saw that it had decided to storm properly, complete with a bit of thunder and lightning.
Half an hour later, when I got home, the rain had just stopped. I was soaking from the waist down and my hands were numb. I NEED to buy a bigger umbrella. I certainly wasn’t up for summery lamb kebabs with a light salad any more. I was more in the mood for a casserole. Time for another score cupboard raid, I thought, and so this came into being…
It’s essentially a twist on a lamb blanquette, kind of inspired by lamb avgolemono (which I’ve only read about but never actually had). It was cheap, which is the important thing right now, and it still tasted very good: good enough for Goon to ask for it again. The ingredients were
From the bargain bin: approximately 500g of lamb neck fillet and 400g unpodded broad beans.
From the storecupboard/fridge/freezer: a lemon, some garlic, frozen peas, fresh tagliatelle, a splash of cream and an egg
From the Turkish grocers: parsley
From the windowsill: the remains of the poor mint plant, which is now properly dead.
Total spent on the meal: £2.02 for the lamb. 40p for the parsley and £1.37 on the broad beans, so under £4 for two generous servings.
Summer Lamb ‘Blanquette’
- Lamb neck fillet, around 450g, cut into bite sized pieces
- around 500ml vegetable stock
- 1 lemon, zested and cut into quarters
- about 10 mint leaves, finely chopped, plus a sprig or two to to garnish
- 2 handfuls of frozen peas, cooked.
- 400g of broad beans, shelled, podded and cooked (I’ve put a note on how to prepare broad beans at the end)
- 1 large egg
- around 20ml of single cream
- two servings of fresh tagliatelle, cooked (around 200g) tossed in parsley and olive oil if you like
- Brown the lamb in batches over a high heat.
- Place in a saucepan of cold water, bring to the boil, then immediately turn down to a simmer.
- Over the next five minutes or so, skim the scum that rises to the top of the water off with a wooden spoon.
- Once no scum is left, drain the lamb and place in a pan with the vegetable stock. Bring back to a simmer.
- Add the lemon zest and the chopped mint
- After 30 minutes, the lamb should be tender. Strain off the liquid into a seperate saucepan, reserving all the solids and boil until reduced by half. Remove from the heat and allow to cool for 2 or 3 minutes. This is to stop the egg mixture from curdling when it is added.
- Beat the egg and cream in a bowl. Add to the reduced stock, stirring constantly. This should thicken the sauce although you may need to return the pan to a low heat for this to happen.
- Stir the lamb and other strained solids back in. Add the peas and broad beans. Warm through, taste, adjust seasoning.
- Serve with the tagliatelle, squeeze over some lemon juice, garnish with mint leaves and wedges of lemon.
Note: to prepare the broad beans: remove the outer pods and discard. Put the beans in their white casing into some cold water. Bring to the boil. After 3 minutes, drain and pour over cold water to cool them. When cool enough to handle, squeeze the beans. They’ll pop out of their casing and should be almost cooked.
If you’ve never tried lamb with lemon in a dish, you should try it. They pair up remarkably well. Sharp flavours cut through the natural fattiness of the meat. I noticed that the supermarket packaging suggested that lamb neck is grilled or fried. I suppose this works too, but it is amazingly tender when braised slowly like this. Now, what to do with that duck….?