There is nothing, but nothing, like lamb. There are plenty of wonderful meats out there – I’ve been known to enjoy one or two myself – but lamb does take some beating.
Take a nice, thick Barnsley chop. With a nice thick layer of fat on it. Matthew from Longwood Farms had a lovely pair three weeks ago.
There they sat – just the two of them – in his van. With two customers in front of me, I was almost at the point of praying that they wouldn’t go before I was able to snaffle them up.
Sure enough, they were mine. And when you get produce that good, you absolutely do not need to do much with it.
In this case, heat your grill – I turn my fan oven/grill combo up to around 200˚C or just above.
Stick the chops about 10cm under the grill. Let them cook for around six minutes. Turn. Given them a further six minutes – or more if they need it.
Serve. Eat. Ascend into a heightened state of meat-induced pleasure, as you crunch through the wafer-thin, crisp and flaky outer layer to reach the pillow of fluffy, sweet melting fat below.
And that’s before you reach the flesh.
Matthew had two more the following Saturday. They went the same way.
But last weekend, for a change, I picked up a shoulder of lamb.
The oven was turned up to well over 200˚C and then, when the meat went in, was turned down instantly to 150˚C (160˚C if you don’t have a fan oven).
It had been brushed with good olive oil – a grassy, peppery one to perfectly compliment the sweetness – and seasoned. Nothing more.
It was roasted on a rack, with around 200ml of water in the bottom, for three hours.
By that stage, I’d scraped and par-boiled some new potatoes (15 minutes) and par-boiled some lovely new carrots too.
When the meat came out to rest for 15 minutes, under a tent of foil, the drained potatoes and carrots went into the juices in the roasting tin and were finished in the oven.
Serve with whatever mint condiment you like, plus salt and pepper.
And like the chops, it was a glory of sweetness; of fat and flesh; of crisp, thin skin, with masses of leftovers for eating during the week.
It does help if you can get meat from an animal that has been allowed to graze properly; to jump and run and gambol. But lamb really is an absolute glory.