Dressing Lamb Primark up as Lamb Prada
This was my first time cooking lamb breast, an exercise I would most definitely repeat in future. Unlike chicken breast, which can often be dry and lacking in moisture, lamb breast comes from the fatty, underside and muscular unused side of the animal so has a high fat content. The meat therefore requires long slow cooking to tenderise, which allows the fat to render away leaving a tasty succulent piece of meat.
There are various suggested ways to cook a lamb breast, but the most exciting in my mind is to roll the two breasts together and adding extra flavouring by stuffing with a delicious filling. This particular beautiful piece of meat was butchered by yours truly on my lamb butchery course at Drings, Greenwich. On the course we de-boned and trimmed two breasts of excess fat, and then had the option to stuff with a merguez harissa sausage meat mix. Unfortunately the sausage mix wasn’t gluten-free, so I opted to take my breasts home to be stuffed and rolled at a later date. I love the spicy sausage idea though – might try that next time!
For my filling I went with a vibrant Eastern Mediterranean combo of pistachio, apricots, and herbs. I was absolutely delighted when the finished roast sliced beautifully with the colourful filling exposed just like a swiss roll. Having waited a long time for it to cook, having no idea how it would turn out, I can’t tell you how awesome a triumph that felt!
The best thing about lamb breast is that it is an extremely economical cut – apart from liver usually the cheapest meat per weight from the animal. Cooked in the right way it can certainly live up to the more popular and extravagant rack or shoulder cuts in taste. Many butchers will sell them pre-stuffed, but if you want to have a go yourself don’t forget to ask for some butchers string. I had to improvise with some triple wrapped cotton and it wasn’t particularly easy to remove from the roast – in fact one of my guest dinners found it as a treasured prize in her meal. Ooops!
Serve with sides of choice – use your creative vegetable imagination. For this stuffing I’d recommend something like roasted butternut squash/carrots, courgettes with mint, a green-bean rocket courgette and feta salad (pic above) or some griddled peppers and tomatoes with pomegranate dressing (I did the last 2 from that list).
Ingredients (serves 2-3)
- 2 lamb breasts, trimmed of excess fat. You will also need some butchers string.
- 25g shelled pistachios, bashed
- 40g dried apricots, diced
- Tablespoon chopped fresh coriander
- Zest of 1 lemon
- Pre-heat oven to 220 degrees C.
- Place your 2 lamb breasts skin side down on a board, overlapping.
- Mix the pistachios, apricots, coriander and lemon with a little seasoning, spread the mix along the meat, then roll up.
- Secure the rolled meat with string – it is likely you will need to tie in 3 places. There is a specific butchers knot you can attempt if you feel confident enough…
- Place the lamb on a rack in a roast tray (it needs to be on a rack so the fat runs out) in the oven for 25 minutes. After which point the skin should have crisped up. Turn the oven down to 160 degrees and roast for a further 2 hours. Basting with its own fat at half hourly intervals to keep it moist.
- Once done leave to rest covered in foil for at least 10 minutes before carving into slices.