If you were asked to choose your favourite meals, your ‘Desert Island Dinners’, what would you pick? My bet is lamb of some sort would make its way on to most people’s list, writes James Waller-Davies.
British lamb is the best in the world. Our climate and geography are perfect for producing this delicious and versatile meat. There’s also possibly no other meat that reflects its region of origin in its flavour as much as lamb, be it Welsh, Cumbrian, Yorkshire, or our very own Lincolnshire.
I’ve got a natural bias for the Welsh mountain lamb of home, but the piece of Lincolnshire lamb we had for this week’s recipe was the best we’ve had in years. Meat is only as good as the feed the animals eat and this spring and summer have been perfect for grass growth and the animals have finished well.
But what to have with roasted meats in the summer, when a full roast dinner doesn’t quite fit with the weather? For me, with lamb, it has to be a ratatouille, that fantastic blend of tomatoes, courgettes, peppers, aubergines, with as much garlic and olive oil as you can manage.
Ratatouille has many variations, but this is a fairly classic version. The 200ml of olive oil is not a typo – the garlic and juices melt into the oil to make a deliciously rich sauce.
You can use any cut of lamb, from an economy piece of rolled breast, to a whole leg for something more special. At this time of year, I find a shoulder is best for roasting, as it has more flavour from a younger animal. But most of all, get it from your local butcher and ask for ‘Lincolnshire lamb’.
Roast lamb and ratatouille
Ingredients (serves 4)
½ shoulder of lamb
2 red peppers
2lbs any tomatoes
1 large aubergine
8 cloves garlic, chopped
200ml extra virgin olive oil
Basil and parsley
Season the lamb and roast it how you like it – studded with rosemary and garlic is great. Time the roasting and resting so it is ready with the ratatouille.
Slice the onions and soften in a large, wide, pan. Add garlic and soften.
Cube the aubergines, slice the peppers and courgettes, and quarter the tomatoes. Add all to the pan, season, and mix gently.
Cook with a lid on a low heat on the hob for 30 minutes, or until all soft. Stir occasionally, but gently to avoid making it mushy. Add the herbs 5 minutes before the end to retain freshness.
Carve the lamb and serve. The perfect summer roast.