It’s December, and time for the Winter menu to truly appear! Traditionally, nuts and dried fruit dominated the winter menu owing to their longevity in the harsh, cold months when so little could grow. Spices masked the taste of meat that was outstaying it’s welcome a little bit. We’re all a bit spoiled now and seasonal food means nothing to most families in the West. However, as the Twelfth month rolls in our taste buds seem to crave these delicious treats.
Inspired by the glorious mince pie which, once upon a time, DID include meat as the name suggests, I came up with this little number. Mutton was a common ingredient during the Mince Pie’s infancy, so I decided to work with lamb. The result is a velvety, sweet and undeniably festive pan sauce atop succulent lamb chops, complemented by the bursts of flavour and texture offered by dried mixed fruits.
- Lamb Chops
- White Wine
- Dried Mixed fruits
- Herbs – I worked with fresh rosemary
Optional Extras – By all means make this more winter-spiced with some mace, nutmeg, or even orange zest. I went for a fairly mild rendition.
- Gently score the surface of the lamb. Rub with salt and pepper and pierce the surface with some cloves and whatever herb you’re using. Drizzle over a little oil. Ideally you want to leave this for a few hours or even overnight, for the flavours to really work into the meat.
- Heat a splash of oil in a pan and begin frying onions gently. As they turn transluscent, add the lamb chops and raise the heat, searing the outside. Lamb is a rather fatty meat and you want to render some of the flavour from that fat into the pan, so don’t be afraid if brown bits start to caramelise on the bottom – this is good.
If you’re using other spices such as nutmeg, add these at this stage.
- Add a splash of white wine, dried fruit and a few more cloves and turn down the heat again. The liquid will deglaze the pan. Stir the sauce occasionally and wait until the alcohol bite has cooked off.
- Stir in some cream and perhaps even a splash of water if it’s thickened too much. Then, you’re ready to serve!
I served with lamb staple accompaniments, mash and peas. Just drizzle the sauce on top and let the raisins and currants slide on down. A dollop of cranberry sauce added to the festive fruit flavours and gave another dimension of sweetness against the salty lamb.