IT is good to see the huge interest in where our meat comes from and how it is reared.
I am regularly asked where I buy my meat, as it is so tender. The answer is not necessarily where it comes from, but how it is prepared and cooked.
It is however still very important to buy good quality cuts, with good traceability, which good suppliers can offer.
The degree of how well meat should be cooked is a very subjective matter. The sight of pink juices glistening on a piece of lamb can be a big turn-off for many people. But as with all things, there is a reason for serving meat slightly underdone.
Many cooks are enraged when asked for a fine steak to be well cooked, or worse, cremated. I have always taken the middle ground and prefer to advise how meat should be cooked, rather than dictate.
However, the simple fact is that prime cuts of lamb are at their most tender when cooked slightly pink. A good steak is much easier to digest when cooked medium rare.
But it doesn't stop there. When a customer orders a rack of lamb, well cooked and without a starter, what chance have we? An average sized rack of lamb would take about 20 minutes to cook when served pink. It then, in common with all meats especially joints, needs to rest. This process allows the meat to become more tender, as the muscles are actually moving during the cooking process. Smaller joints such as the rack may only take 10-12 minutes to do so, whereas larger joints may take 20-30 minutes.
So the choice is yours, you can eat your meat at it's best or keep a packet of Rennies to hand.
Oh, and lastly to all those people who wonder why our beef is so tender every Sunday, it is partly due to the quality of our purchasing, but also down to the painstaking removal of the little sinews just under the layer of fat. And not overcooking the meat.
Rump of Lamb with Caper Sauce
4 x 175g lamb rumps
1 sprig rosemary
3 cloves garlic, crushed
350ml lamb stock
1 tsp arrowroot
50g well drained capers
Rub the garlic over the lamb, and sprinkle with the rosemary. In a thick-bottomed frying pan, seal the seasoned lamb rumps, fat side down. When the fat is crisp, turn the joints and seal them all over. Place in a roasting tray, together with the rosemary, garlic and fat, and cook in a hot oven, gas mark 7/225 C for about 12 minutes. Remove the lamb, keep warm and allow to rest for 10-15 minutes.
Strain off and discard the fat, retaining the garlic, herbs and juices. Boil the stock in both the roasting tray and frying pan, stirring with a wooden spoon to loosen the sediment. Strain all the juices and stock into a sauce pan and reboil. Thicken slightly with the diluted arrowroot, add the capers and season if necessary. Carve the lamb, add sauce as required and serve with Dauphinoise potatoes.