For us meat eaters of the world, lamb is the traditional meat to serve on Easter Sunday. Usually a roast meal is served but with just myself to feed today, I opted for some gorgeous lamb rib chops I found in Whole Foods.
As a child, roast Sunday lunches were a weekly affair from which we never deviated. And the tradition was that Yorkshire puddings were made to go with beef and mint sauce was served with lamb. The mint sauce came from a jar – sometimes mint jelly was on offer too. These were different days; you didn’t pick up neat little packets of fresh herbs in supermarkets or have them growing in pots in the garden. We had quite a big garden with a lot of apple trees and one Victoria plum tree; there was a big clump of rhubarb too but I’m quite sure it was just there rather than planted by my parents. I don’t remember any herbs growing. Later on, after I’d grown up and left home, my dad took to growing tomatoes in a big way and at the end of the season, some still green would come to me to be made into green tomato chutney.
Today I thought it would be nice to bring some mint to the lamb, but I wasn’t going in search of any jars. Instead, I decided to make a mint chimichurri. Chimichurri is an uncooked Argentinian sauce which is usually served with grilled meats. I made a more classic version to go with a beef steak a while ago (click here) and I more or less followed that recipe, substituting some of the parsley with some fresh mint. I looked online and found a few recipes for mint chimichurri and most used an equal quantity of parsley to mint; a few just mint. I opted for the half and half approach. Mint has such a strong flavour I was sure it would come through well with the parsley, and I also thought the parsley would help give a better texture to the sauce. The mint in a pot in my garden hadn’t survived winter well but the parsley was exuberant with a huge amount of healthy stems and leaves reaching high from its pot.
I therefore bought a little packet of mint and cut sprigs of the parsley in my garden. Everything else was stuff I always have to hand. I was ready to go and made the sauce a couple of hours in advance. I think it needs a little time to mature, though of course you could serve it straight away too.
Lamb with Mint Chimichurri – Serves one
- 1-2 lamb chops (or lamb steaks), depending on size
- 5g flat-leaf parsley, after leaves stripped from stem, finely chopped
- 5g fresh mint leaves, after leaves stripped from stem, finely chopped
- 1 clove garlic, finely chopped or grated
- 1 shallot, finely chopped
- ½ teaspoon dried chilli flakes
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- juice of ½ lemon
- 2 teaspoons wine or cider vinegar
- salt and pepper to taste
Gather all the ingredients together and put in a mortar and pestle. Some recipes use a blender, but I wanted to have a fairly rough texture, not a smooth sauce. Other recipes don’t blend it at all and just stir the ingredients together, but I thought a little pounding would bring it all together nicely and with the mortar and pestle you can easily stop when it’s just right. Really, there isn’t a right way – just make it how you want it.
Mix all the ingredients together well, pounding a little to make the sauce a little smoother, but I like to also maintain the integrity of the individual ingredients a bit.
Transfer the chimichurri to a small bowl and if you’re not using it straight away then cover and keep in the fridge. If you do this, make sure to bring it out for an hour before eating so it isn’t too cold.
It’s been a lovely day here in Twickenham. I walked down to the Thames this morning after a coffee in Gail’s and the sky was clear blue. I sat on a bench and watched swans glide by; listened to Canada geese honking at each other and saw kayaks being paddled along the river. I love living near water.
I could also see over to Eel Pie Island on the other side of the river, famous in the 1960s for being a popular venue for rising pop stars – The Who, the Rolling Stones, Rod Stewart. It all began here in Twickenham! The hotel where they played was burned down and now the island is an artists’ community. You can visit their workshops a couple of times a year when the island opens up. Otherwise you can cross the footbridge on to the island but can’t walk far – it’s private.
Later, I headed to Kew Gardens. I have a season ticket which as a local I make much use of, and it means I can pop in for just an hour or two without worrying about the cost (entry for just a day is quite a lot). It was lovely to see the colour in the gardens now we’re in April, though the spring bulbs were nearing their end. The cherry trees were covered in glorious blossom which is always a wonderful sight, while other trees were showing signs of new life. I must go back again soon. One year I recorded each month in the gardens – if you’d like to read it, click here.
Back home, I did a little gardening. It’s been a pottering kind of day. Just relaxing. Enjoying the warm weather. Then, a lovely supper to look forward to.
I marinated the lamb chops in a little olive oil and lemon juice for an hour before cooking. I dithered over whether I needed one or two chops – were two greedy? But actually, they were quite thin and the actual meat on each not a lot. So I went for two! The chimichurri was in the fridge ready to go; little new potatoes were chopped and coated in a little olive oil for roasting and a courgette sliced ready for gently frying in olive oil.
The potatoes went in first, then when they were nearing being nicely browned, I heated the griddle ready for the lamb chops and the courgettes were put over a low heat at much the same time.
It all came together nicely. The chops were left to rest a little while I got everything else plated. Then I put the chops on too and drizzled over some of the chimichurri.
It was a gorgeous supper. The chops were slightly caramelised but still beautifully pink in the middle. The vegetables a perfect accompaniment. And as for the chimichurri? Well that was a great sauce to serve with the lamb. The mint flavour came through well and so I decided the half and half parsley-mint approach was right. It’s such a flavoursome sauce with a mix of freshness from the raw ingredients, a little hit of heat from the chilli and a pleasing touch of acidity from the vinegar. It made a simple meal very special.