Saturday, 10 November 2012

Spicy Barbecued Lamb Breast with Garlic and Mint Yoghurt Sauce and Rice

Me old mum, Mrs Ribeye Sr, loves to tell me about the good old days when she was young and had no money. For some reason, she gets all nostalgic about being poor and hungry. Fairly weird.

One of her stories is how she used to make a dinner of lamb breast for her and me old dad that cost 'one-and-six' (whatever that means), and that she used to roll it with sage and onion stuffing for dinner before listening to Perry Como on the wireless and watching Hughie Green on the light box receiver. She then allowed herself a ha'p'orth of cough candy before sleeping in the family's Anderson shelter (probably).

Anyway, the reason for this trip down 'Inaccurate Memory Lane' is that I have suddenly found a penchant for lamb breast. It's still cheap - not one-and-six, but £5 per kilo - and absolutely delicious. In all honesty, it is a gristly and fatty old bit of meat, but as any foodie will know, this means MASSIVE flavour. I love the scrag ends of things. If there is a bit of connective tissue going, I'm your man. No fancy fillets for me - I'd rather eat the skin of any animal than the prime cuts.

My wife, Mrs Ribeye, is not quite as enthusiastic as me for the less fancy cuts of flesh. She thinks they're pretty offal (I thaaank you). When I presented her with this dish, she asked me why she couldn't actually have a lamb chop, rather than shank or breast, for once. Pish! I said. Chops are for wimps and rich people who know no better. Now cut up your gristle a bit smaller.

I am joking, of course. If you treat the lamb breast correctly, it will repay you in kind. The key is to marinate it well, cook it long and hard and then allow it to relax for a significant time. Result: The best lamb in the world. You can stick your prime rack up your rump end as far as I'm concerned.

The first thing you must do when buying your lamb breast, is to unroll it and discard the disgusting elastic net that it comes tightly shrouded in. If you don't, then the inner coils of the meat will not get any direct heat, and you'll end up with flaccid fatty nonsense, instead of crispy schwarma-like (schwarma. Mmmmmm) shards of deliciousness. Try it - you'll never go back to the rack.

Because this cut of meat is so cheap to buy, this whole dish comes in at a fantastic £2.50 per serving. A third of the cost of a dish made with the dearer stuff, and a sixth of the cost of a decent Middle Eastern takeaway.

Serves 2


750g lamb breast
1 tablespoon of dried mint, dried oregano, ground cumin, ground coriander, dried chilli flakes
Salt and pepper
1 onion, minced
4 cloves of garlic, minced
4 tablespoons of olive oil

Unroll the lamb breast. Mix the rest of the ingredients in a large bowl and then rub it well into the lamb. Leave in the fridge for minimum 2 hours, preferably overnight. Preheat oven or barbecue to 250c. Roast the lamb breast for an hour, turning once, until it is crispy and slightly charred. Then remove from the oven and allow to rest for 15 minutes.


Garlic and Mint Yoghurt Sauce


300ml natural unsweetened Greek yoghurt
1 teaspoon of dried mint
1 clove of garlic, minced
Pinches of salt and pepper

Mix ingredients together and refrigerate until needed.


To Serve


Mixed salad vegetables, chopped into 2cm dice
Salt and pepper
200g cooked rice (I use basmati)
2 tablespoons of olive oil

Place a mound of salad vegetables onto a plate and season to taste. Stir the olive oil into the rice and place onto the plate next to the salad. Cut the lamb breast into 2cm dice and place in a pile over the rice. Top the lamb with the yoghurt sauce. Serve immediately.

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