I bet your mind is turning to thoughts of mint sauce, rosemary and maybe garlic in the cooking. Maybe roll a neck of lamb with sage and onion stuffing…
None of these is bad, but they are a bit unimaginative.
So how’s this for a killer ingredient?
Rheum rhubarbarum x hybridum
Rhubarb. You heard me. Rhubarb.
Its acidity works so well with the richness of the lamb. It’s fab, and it’s such a surprise for most people that you can just sit back and take the plaudits.
Here’s what you need
A good big stem of rhubarb. In the shops you tend only to be able to buy it in season, but if you’re lucky enough to have this rhizomic miracle in your garden you can do this all year round. Old rhubarb works fine, so don’t be too finicky and go for small young stems
A large onion. A really big one, maybe a white Stuttgarter Giant. As big as you can get
A big clove of garlic
Olive oil, or ghee, or butter if you want to be indulgent
A bit of sugar, maybe
Here’s what you do
Trim the rhubarb and cut it into ½ inch chunks
Wash it thoroughly, and don’t drain it too well. Shove it in a heavy pan, put it over a really low heat, wait till the water starts to hiss a bit, then cover it tightly. You may want to adda no more than a teaspoon of sugar (or honey), and stir well before you cover it
While the rhubarb steams itself, chop the onion finely, the put a tablespoon of oil, or ghee, or butter in a large frying pan with a lid. Sweat the onions under the lid with a ½ teaspoonful of salt. Keep an eye on the rhubarb now and then, and if you need to add water a ½ tablespoon at a time
When the onion has sweated but not browned, take it off the heat and allow it to cool down, or you’ll burn yourself in a few minutes
Check the rhubarb. It shouldn’t be sloppy but still a bit fibrous, yet be tender enough to mash up a bit with a fork or a wooden spoon. When it is, drain it well, and mash up the rhubarb. Allow it to cool, or you’ll burn yourself…
When it’s all cooled down, add the rhubarb to the onion, add a crushed clove of garlic.
If you’re roasting a leg or shoulder of lamb, score the meat deeply down to the bone. Pack the cuts with this mix, then coat the rest of the joint with the rest of the mix, and rub it in a bit
Wrap everything in foil to avoid burning the coating, and roast as per usual. I go for hot and short, so the meat stays pink, but that’s not for everyone, I know
Errmm, I intended to stuff and roll a neck of lamb
Easypeasy. Add a couple of cups of wholemeal breadcrumbs to the mix, stir about. If it’s a bit sloppy, add a teaspoonful of cornflour. Yes, I know I might want to make a roux to stiffen things up, but who has time for that when it’s Sunday and there’s a film you want to watch on the TV?
Stir well, spread the stuffing over the lamb neck, roll up, and tie with string. Loosely! The meat and the stuffing will swell as they cook, and it’s a shame to lose things.
Roast as per your preference.
Any leftover stuffing? Add a good lot of chopped fresh coriander (I think this may be known as cilantro in the US. Let me know.) Oil or butter a shallow dish, shove the excess in. Mix another tablespoon of breadcrumbs with a some oil or butter, spread this over the top.
Put this in the oven, uncovered, about 20 minutes before you expect the meat to be cooked. It should crisp up lovely, but if you’ve used sugar ease the browning bits away from the edges of the dish so things don’t burn
A tablespoon of finely, and I mean finely, chopped or minced root ginger added to the basic mix
My mouth’s watering