Any dish that makes use of one of the tougher, less popular cuts of meat and turns it into something as classy as this is, for me, what good cooking is all about. Breast of lamb on the bone is ideal but if you can only find the rolled variety, this is still just as usable. You’ll probably be able to pick up a rolled breast of lamb for under £5 and this will happily feed at least 4 people as a substantial starter or, with some boiled potatoes, a decent main.
You’re going to want to serve it with a sauce that cuts through the flavour of the lamb – a vinaigrette, a green sauce or maybe a mustard mayonnaise. I opted for a Sauce Ravigote, mainly because I had the ingredients handy but really I think this sauce ticks all the boxes for me to complement the lamb. Nicely sharp but with the piquant, salty hit of capers and then the sweeter tones of tarragon.
For the Breast of Lamb Ste-Ménehould
- 1 Breast of lamb
- 1 onion, roughly chopped
- 1 carrot, roughly chopped
- 2 cloves of garlic
- 1 teaspoon black peppercorns
- 1 bay leaf
- 2-3 sprigs of thyme
- 1-2 sprigs rosemary
- 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
- 1 egg – whisked
- A couple of handfuls of breadcrumbs.
Heat your oven to 140c.
Add the carrots, onion, herbs and peppercorn to a casserole pot. Add the lamb and a glass of water. You can use white wine if you like but I don’t think it really adds anything. Maybe add some lardons if you have some spare but that’s not essential.
Cover and place in the oven for 3 hours or so – checking every hour, giving the lamb a baste with the cooking stock.
Once cooked, remove the lamb from the pan. Remove any bone you have in the lamb – it should just slide out. Lay the lamb out flat in a tray with another tray on top and weigh down with something heavy. Leave in the fridge for a few hours – or even overnight.
When you’re ready to finish the lamb, heat your oven to 180c. Take the lamb from the fridge and cut into lengths about 1 inch thick. Smear a decent dollop of mustard over each piece, brush with whisked egg and dip in the breadcrumbs. I used Panko breadcrumbs but, for this dish, I think some homemade crumbs from a stale loaf would be just as good.
20 minutes or so should warm the lamb through and allow the breadcrumbs to crisp up.
For the Sauce Ravigote
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
- 150ml of groundnut oil
- 1 tablespoon of finely chopped onion
- 1 tablespoon of roughly chopped capers
- 1 tablespoon each of tarragon and parsley, finely chopped
- Salt & black pepper.
Mix the mustard and the vinegar and slowly add the oil, whisking all the time. Add the onion, capers and herbs and then season. Allow to rest for half an hour or so – just let the flavours mingle.
Serve with a light salad or pad it out with some boiled potatoes.
Give it a go – it’s a great dish to cook because it’s cheap, tasty and you can mostly prepare it in advance.