Upgrade your Easter lamb with our expert's suggestions, from using coffee grounds to serving with Isle of Mull cheddar potato dauphinoise
It’s nearly time to slam in the lamb
It seems that mint jelly is a divisive thing.
One person’s delicious condiment is someone else’s revolting frogspawn.
Still, as Easter approaches, you may be looking for more exciting ways to upgrade your traditional roast lamb.
It doesn’t have to be boring.
In The Flavour Thesaurus by Niki Segnit, she suggests that this meat goes with not only the more familiar accompaniments, like anchovy, apricot (as in a tagine), lemon, mint, aubergine (think moussaka) and pea, but also anise, peanut, shellfish, rhubarb, tomato and dill.
Lea Harris, cook, food writer and the first person from Scotland to appear on The Great British Bake Off, says; “Lamb works well with aubergine (baba ganoush) and chickpeas (hummus) so think Middle Eastern spices for the lamb, like a baharat spice blend” and Will Bain of Scran Academy suggests a “sauce paloise, which is made with mint and a splash of vinegar”.
Apparently, Nigella Lawson does a very popular slow cooked spiced lamb with pomegranate, and wild garlic pesto is another popular accompaniment in the springtime.
We’ve asked a few other experts what their dream additions are, from sides to spices to condiments and, um, coffee grounds..
Michael Leathley, head chef at Pierhouse Hotel & Seafood Restaurant, Port Appin, www.pierhousehotel.co.uk
“I’d make a rub out of fennel seed, lemon zest, fresh mint, a few coffee grounds, and salt and pepper. The coffee grounds give an earthy flavour that’s really nice. Roast the lamb whole and serve it on top of a rumbledethumps rosti made with kale, carrots and fresh herbs. Add a little homemade mint and caper sauce on top”.
Neil Forbes, chef patron of Cafe St Honore, Edinburgh, www.cafesthonore.com
"I remember the first time I had lamb with tapenade. It was at Alastair Little’s restaurant in London years ago, and it was sublime. A simple combination of black olives, garlic, anchovies, capers and olive oil, it really works and is so flavourful.”
Craig Millar, chef patron of Craig Millar @ 16 West End, St Monans, www.16westend.com
“I love lamb with dauphinoise potatoes. Technically, we make gratin dauphinoise which is what you get with the addition of cheese, classically Gruyere, but we like to put our own spin on it using Isle of Mull cheddar and some nutmeg. Par cook the sliced potatoes on the stove in a garlicky cream and milk mixture, mix the grated cheese through, layer the potatoes into an ovenproof dish with some of the cooking liquid and top with more cheese. We cook them in the oven covered with kitchen foil until they’re almost done then crank up the heat, remove the foil and crisp up the top.
This is great with roast lamb as the garlic pairs so well, and the addition of the slightly acidic Isle of Mull cheddar stops the dish being too rich”.
Fred Berkmiller, chef patron of L’Escargot Bleu, Edinburgh, www.lescargotbleu.co.uk
“I like to eat Easter roast lamb on the bone with grey sea salt and a little seasoning. Serve it alongside green salad, Dijon mustard and a glass or two of light pinot noir, like a young Beaujolais.”
Rachel Morgan, baker and owner of Twelve Triangles, Edinburgh, www.twelvetriangles.co.uk
“My favourite side dishes with roast lamb are boulangere potatoes, braised artichoke and mint jelly, or baba ganoush, pickles and flatbreads. The seasonings I prefer are cumin, fresh mint and parsley and a good olive oil”.
Jamie Scott, chef patron of The Newport Restaurant, Dundee, www.thenewportrestaurant.co.uk
“I enjoy lamb with boulangere potatoes, using all the rendered lamb fat. I also prefer to use lamb neck noisette, as the cut is so cheap and it tastes delicious cooked low and slowly or pink”.
David Seez, owner of Pie Man, Penicuik
“I make a marinade of oil, garlic, oregano, vinegar, salt, pepper and water, all blitzed. Leave the lamb to marinade in the fridge for as long as you like. Roast it and retain the juices to mix with the marinade to make a sauce or gravy.”
Christos Bampalis, owner and head chef at Spitaki, Edinburgh, www.spitaki.co.uk
“What makes the below dish special is the addition of butter beans. The easy option is not to use tinned but traditional Greek gigantes, which take it to taverna level dish. This is a 24-hour operation to soak the large dried imported beans overnight, cooking until tender before finishing in the oven”.
Leg of lamb roasted on top of Greek gigantes (or extra large butter beans)
Serves 6-8 people
Shoulder of lamb (2.5kg)
2kg dried gigantes beans (pre soaked for 24-hrs then boiled for 1 hour), or 4-5 tins if you’re using precooked beans
1 whole garlic, cloves separated and peeled
2 carrots finely chopped
2 sticks of celery finely chopped
1 leek, finely chopped
2 onions, finely chopped
3 rosemary sprigs
3 thyme sprigs
2 bay leaves
Bunch of parsley, finely chopped
400g tin of chopped tomatoes
300ml red wine
300ml chicken stock
Salt and pepper
1 Preheat the oven to 160C.
2 Rub the lamb with the salt and pepper. Make incisions all over the meat and insert garlic cloves into each incision.
3 Put the olive oil in a roasting tin, add all the vegetables and cook for four to five minutes.
3 Add the chopped tomatoes, rosemary, thyme, bay leaves, red wine and chicken stock. Bring to a simmer then add the cooked Greek gigantes beans.
4 Place the lamb on top and drizzle all over with olive oil. Cook for four hours or until the meat is tender and the beans have soaked up all the meat juices.