Scotch lamb is a wonderful product which is full of natural flavours, thanks to the varied, rich diet our lambs enjoy on the hills and pastures of Scotland.
The best way to ensure you are buying local produce is to find a good butcher, as he will know what’s available and can tell you where it’s come from.
If shopping in a supermarket, look out for the Quality Meat Scotland (QMS) accreditation label as that’s a good indicator of where the meat has come from.
One good tip to remember when it comes to cooking lamb is always to let it rest for longer than you’ve cooked it, and when you take it out of the oven, never cover it in tin foil as that will continue the cooking process.
LAMB CUTLETS WITH A LAMB SHIN RISSOLE AND SCOTCH BROTH STEW
1 lamb rack (2 cutlets per person)
FOR THE RISSOLES
2 lamb shanks
2tbsp sunflower oil
1 bouquet garni
3 carrots, chunkily chopped
1 large onion, quartered
1 celery stick, halved
1 garlic bulb, halved across the equator
100ml red wine
1tsp tomato puree
500g floury potatoes, peeled
1 large onion, finely chopped
2tbsp light olive oil
2tbsp roughly chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 large egg
Good pinch freshly ground white pepper
25g seasoned flour
50g fresh white breadcrumbs
FOR THE SCOTCH BROTH
200g pearl barley, rinsed
450ml chicken stock
400ml reserved lamb stock (see below)
1 onion, finely chopped
1 small leek, thinly sliced
2 small celery sticks, finely chopped
2 small carrots, chopped
1 small swede, chopped (turnip)
2tbsp chopped flat-leaf parsley
50g unsalted butter, diced
Preheat the oven to 160C (350F), Gas mark 4.
Heat a large heavy-based casserole with a lid over a fairly high heat. Add the oil to the casserole and then quickly sear the shanks until nicely browned all over. Add the bouquet garni, carrots, garlic, celery and onion.
Pour in the red wine to de-glaze the pan, stir in the tomato puree and water. Season with salt and black pepper, then cover with a lid and cook for 2-3 hours until tender.
When the shanks are cooked, skim the liquid, drain over a bowl. Reserve this stock to use when cooking the barley and keep the vegetables for the rissoles. Discard the bouquet garni. When the lamb has cooled, finely shred using your fingers.
To make the rissoles, peel and boil the potatoes until tender. Place in a bowl with the shredded lamb, roughly crushing the potatoes.
Sauté the onion in half the oil and butter until softened but not coloured. Add to the lamb and potato, then add the parsley, egg and season. Add in the mashed cooked veg from the lamb shanks.
Shape into rissoles. Dust in the seasoned flour. Coat in the breadcrumbs. Increase the oven temperature to 200C (400F), Gas mark 6. Heat the rest of the butter and oil in a large ovenproof frying pan and sauté the rissoles until golden brown. Transfer to the oven and cook for another 10 minutes until completely heated through.
Brown the lamb rack in hot oil. Transfer to a hot oven set at 180C for 10-12 minutes. Leave to rest on a cold tray for at least 15 minutes.
To make the Scotch broth, cook the barley in the chicken stock over a low heat for 30 minutes. Add the vegetables and pour in the reserved lamb stock. Season to taste, then cover with a lid and cook gently for another 30 minutes or so until the vegetables and barley are completely tender.
To serve: Slice the rack into cutlets (2-3 each). Serve with the rissoles and Scotch broth.
RHUBARB FOOL AND RHUBARB CRISPS
Another classic Scottish ingredient is rhubarb.
Many people believe that early, forced rhubarb from Yorkshire is the best, but that is not the case – Scottish rhubarb is fantastic and is one of those fabulous ingredients that’s delicious for a couple of months of the year.
It’s ridiculously simple to grow and as long as it doesn’t become too woody, can be eaten well into the summer in everything from fools to warming crumbles.
I made this rhubarb fool recently while filming in America with Paul Rankin for the new series of the TV show, Paul & Nick’s Big Food Trip.
It’s really simple and quick to make and mouth-wateringly good.
FOR THE FOOL
400g young rhubarb
50g brown sugar
400g double cream
FOR THE RHUBARB CRISPS
Half a thick stick of rhubarb
Icing sugar, to coat
Handful toasted almonds to serve
First make the rhubarb crisps. Thinly slice the rhubarb at a 45° angle and cut into lengths of about 4cm. Lay the thin slices (about 1mm each) on to non stick baking paper.
Using a small sieve liberally sprinkle the slices with icing sugar and place into a 80° oven (or at its lowest setting) to start the drying process.
After about an hour turn the slices over and return to the oven for 20 minutes or so. The exact drying time will depend on your oven and how thinly the rhubarb has been cut. The crisps will not go completely crisp until cold.
When you think they might be ready, take one from the oven and leave it to cool. If it becomes glassy crisp remove the others from the oven and let cool. The crisps can be made up to a couple of days in advance but must be stored in an airtight box to avoid becoming soft and leathery.
For the fool, place the rhubarb in a saucepan with the sugar. Cook gently for 15 minutes until a soft pulp. Leave to cool.
Whip the cream to soft peaks – don’t overwhip, then fold into the rhubarb mix.
Serve in glasses or glass bowls with some rhubarb crisps on top, and toasted almonds to garnish, plus a little extra rhubarb on top.
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