For a man who lives in the heart of the countryside, I don’t cook with lamb anywhere near as often as I’d like. Beef seems to come my way all the time, but time and time again I seem to overlook one of England’s very best proteins.
I think price might be an issue. I can’t say for certain that lamb is more expensive than beef, but somehow lamb has always seemed to me to be a meat far more hinged on the great cuts than beef can be. Maybe I just understand beef a little better!
All the same, lamb is such a beautiful thing and it’s a really wonderful thing to eat in the spring. And given we’ve had one of the most incredible springs in history, I’ve had ample reason and opportunity to cook the very best lamb I can get my hands on!
Lamb T-Bone (At room temperature.)
250g Goat’s Cheese
Agar Agar (Optional)
White Wine Vinegar
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
This is actually really, really simple. It looks and tastes beautiful, but there’s nothing complicated about any of the techniques involved!
Step 1. Make the Goat’s Cheese Mousse
I’d like to confess that I was trying to recreate the “Goat’s Cheese Snow” element of a dish by Agnar Sverrisson that I found on Great British Chefs. It didn’t work out as I’d hoped it would and instead I had more of a goat’s cheese mousse. With that in mind, I’d like to put it to you that you might be able to skip the agar agar in this step and that you might find creamier, tastier results by replacing the water with milk.
Nevertheless, I accomplished it by dropping 250g goat’s cheese and 5g agar agar into 500ml of water and then simmering the mixture very gently until everything combined. Cool the mixture in the fridge and then blend until smooth, seasoning as you like.
Step 2. Make the Pea Puree
The next step is to prepare the pea puree. In my experience, purees always take longer than I expect (or want) them to, so give yourself a good 20 – 30 minutes just to let them simmer away quietly. Or even more if you have the time and patience! You’ll sacrifice a little bit of that vibrant green colour, but you’ll get a smoother, cleaner puree.
I’ve used a lot of puree here, so you’ll want to start with at least a cup of peas per portion. Once they’re cooked, throw them into a blender and puree them down, again giving it as much time as you need to get that nice, smooth texture. Season with salt, and a little lemon juice. You can also add a pinch of sugar here if you want to emphasise the sweetness of the peas.
At this point, decide if you want to pass the puree through a fine sieve to smooth them even further. Either way, add them back into the empty pan and hold them at a very low heat until you’re ready to plate.
Finally, at this stage, it might be worth setting aside another cup of peas in boiled, salted water to thaw and to warm up. You’re going to be garnishing the dish with them later and this very unaggressive cooking method should really be enough to get them where you want them to be without worrying about boiling them at the last minute.
Step 3. The Vinaigrette
This is the point at which you’ll want to make the vinaigrette. This one is a little thicker and more substantial than most, owing to the addition of crushed garlic, so it might be more accurate to think of it like a chimichuri or a salsa verde.
I don’t tend to work to a strict set of measurements here, so I’d suggest tuning this to your liking. The first thing to do is to take a small handful of mint leaves and chop them down as finely as you comfortably can, then to add that into a combination of olive oil and white wine vinegar that suits your taste. We’re not looking at loads here. Maybe 25 – 50 ml per person overall. Crush a couple of cloves of garlic in a press and add those to the mix as well.
Add a quarter of a teaspoon of mustard and season with salt, then give it a really thorough mix to emulsify and combine.
Step 4. The Meat!
It’s now time to cook the lamb, but first you’re going to want to set up a steamer and get it ready for when you want to cook the asparagus. If you like, you can also trim up the ends of the asparagus with a knife, just to tidy them up and to make sure you don’t end up fighting with the woodier parts of the stalks
Once that’s done, take the lamb and season as you like. I tend to be quite simplistic with my seasoning, but a dish like this could handle a good hit of pepper or even a little light spice.
Heat up an oiled pan to just below highest heat and place in the lamb. There arguments for keeping it on very high, but lamb is a little more delicate than beef and you want to give it a chance to cook through before the outside starts to burn. This will largely depend on the thickness of your T-Bone.
I like to keep the meat moving around the pan to maximise contact with the heat, but there are countless theories and approaches to pan-frying, so do whatever feels most comfortable for you. If you like to flip the meat time and time again, that’s your thing and it works for you. If you like to leave it exactly where it is from start to finish and that’s what nets you results, that’s what you should do.
My cut was about an inch thick. If you’re looking for a juicy, pink slice of lamb, you want to cook a piece of lamb that size for about 2-3 minutes per side, or until a thermometer reads 145 degrees.
If you like, for the last minute or two of the cook on the second side, throw some butter, garlic and a good, hardy herb of your choice into the pan and give the lamb a good basting as it finishes. Rosemary is always good with lamb, but I’m always a sucker for thyme.
Set the lamb aside to rest and turn your focus to the asparagus.
Step 5. Steam the Asparagus.
This is the really quick and easy bit. Drop the asparagus into the steamer with a little bit of salt – and an optional dollop of butter – and allow them about 4 – 5 minutes.
Step 6. Assemble
All you really want to do here is make sure everything gets on that plate. Get your puree on with your goat’s cheese and your asparagus, then garnish with the tomatoes and peas.
Pop the lamb down on top and dress the whole meal with the vinaigrette and a small handful of mint leaves.
Step 7. Eat!