De-constructed lamb chops

My children are very annyoying about chops. They eat the eye of the meat and ignore the long strip of meat mingled with fat that goes along with it. Once a year we get given a whole lamb by Ed  (the farmer who grazes his sheep on our field) and this means that we get quite a few lamb chops. Last week I decided I couldn’t bear the sight of half-eaten lamb chops. So, I made us a two-course lamb meal out of eight chops with enough soup left over for lunch the next day.

Lamb, lentil, leek and tamarind soup, followed by lamb kebabs with rosemary flatbread and cauliflower salad. And very delicious it was. It all took a bit more time than I would normally put in to a weekday supper, but as well as feeding us that evening we were left with delicious soup, half a big rosemary flatbread and two loaves of white bread. And since I enjoyed the cooking as well that seems like a pretty good equation.

I’m not going to make this piece even longer by giving you the bread recipe, but I used a fairly straightforward white bread recipe with a little olive oil (1.75kg of flour). I used two thirds of it to make two normal white loaves and the other third to make a great big flatbread – effectively a pizza without toppings except a drizzle of olive oil, some chopped fresh rosemary and some coarse salt.

Back to the chops: First take the eye of the meat out of the chops trimming them as well as possible as they are going to be cooked very briefly. Then take off the the long strip of meat mingled with fat and chop it up very small – almost mincing it. Personally I discard the large lumps of hard fat, but diehard nose to tail eaters may feel that’s a waste. Marinate the main bits of meat in olive oil, garlic and rosemary (chilli, crushed coriander and cumin would be good in addition if you were in the mood for something spicey) and leave on one side.

Meanwhile put the bones in a hot oven for 20 minutes or so until they are well browned. Then put them in a pan with a couple of pints of water and simmer for as long as you’ve got (minimum half an hour) to create some delicious lamb stock.

When the stock is nearly done, fry the finely chopped meat/fat in some olive oil. When it’s brown add a couple of cloves of chopped garlic and some salt and cook for another minute or so. Then add one big or two smaller leeks, (finely chopped and very well washed) and about 150g of red lentils and the lamb stock. Bring to the boil and simmer for half an hour or so until the lentils are thoroughly cooked and disintegrating. Add 4 tsp of tamarind paste (Bart’s Spices do a good one – easier to use than tamarind in a less processed state) and cook for another few minutes. Check the seasoning and the thickness, adding some water if needed. Then it’s ready to serve.

Whilst the soup is cooking make the cauliflower salad. Cut a smallish cauliflower into tiny florets. Do this by trimming around the cauliflower rather close to the surface and then breaking up any too-large florets with your hands. You’ll then be left with a very large core. Take the tough bottom bit off and chop the remainder into wafer thin slivers. Bring a large pan of water to the boil and put the cauliflower in for no more than 2 minutes. Drain thoroughly and mix with a finely diced tomato and a couple of tablespoons of a standard vinaigrette. Leave to serve at room temperature.

Don’t cook the kebabs (or lumps of meat to describe them more prosaically) until everyone as had their soup and you’re ready for them. Heat a ridged heavy-bottomed pan until it’s very hot. Season the meat and then immediately put it in the pan, being sure that each bit of meat has some space around it. As soon as it’s browned on one side (maybe no more than a minute or two) turn it over and cook for a further minute or so (depending how well-cooked you like it) and serve immediately on warm plates with the freshly baked rosemary flatbread and  the cauliflower salad. Delicious.