On my last trip to my lovely local butcher, they had some exciting looking bits of lamb loin – not the big roasting cut you most often see in the UK, but more like a pork loin; just the very tender central strip of meat. When I asked about it, the butcher told me they were from this season’s spring lambs. Yes, admittedly, these are those super adorable little lambs that go sproing all across the South Downs. So cute and so tasty. I generally prefer meat with a bit more flavour than a loin but at this time of year, it’s really worth making the most of the delicacy and super-soft texture of spring lamb. In the spirit of terroir, I decided to cook the meat with the local Sussex peas that are also coming into the shops at this time of year, and to finish the dish I picked up some sheep’s milk yoghurt. I grant you, there’s something slightly perverse about the combination. It seems a bit like those Asian ‘mother and child’ dishes of eggs stuffed back into the bodies of their roasting mothers, or maybe it’s just that it’s so very treyf. Regardless, I liked the idea of using tangy sheep’s milk yoghurt alongside sweet peas and pan-roasted lamb.
Spring lamb with peas and yoghurt
- 1 loin of lamb
- a bag of fresh peas – about two large handfuls
- a large handful of peashoots
- a small handful of sunflower sprouts
- a small bunch of mint leaves
- 1/2 a small onion, chopped
- 1/2 cup sheepsmilk yoghurt
- a slice of butter
Pre-heat the oven to gas mark 6 / 400F / 200C. Cut the loin in two. Heat the butter in an oven-safe sauté pan and fry the meat on all sides till brown. Salt generously. Pop the pan into the oven for 8 minutes, then let the meat rest on a separate board while you make the sauce.
Now, using the same frying pan (careful with the handle!) sauté the onions gently till the start to brown. Add the peas and a 1/4 cup of water. Bring to the boil and them simmer for two minutes.
Add the peashoots and the sunflower sprouts and wilt. Take off the heat and stir in the yoghurt gradually, making sure the sauce doesn’t split. Finally add the mint and season with salt and pepper. Slice the lamb, which should be nice and pink, and serve on a bed of yoghurty spring vegetables.