grilled lamb fillet
+ JUMP TO RECIPE
Lamb neck fillet, marinated overnight in hot, sweet and herby marinade, is best cooked quickly under hot grill. It can taste better than lamb chop or loin steak. It's cheap, it's flavoursome and cooks in just 15 minutes.
There are some cuts of meat, usually cheap, that can handle two cooking approaches – quick and pink or slow and low. Beef flank for instance (or skirt, or bavette, depending where you are and how the animal has been carved) can be flash fried into a very flavoursome steak, or braised forever in a casserole. Meat cuts that are not a whole muscle have connective tissue that just toughens and toughens as it is cooked, until it kind of has had enough and gives in, i.e. softens.
That means there’s no in-between state. If you think you can have a well-done skirt or rump steak and thoroughly enjoy it, you're probably wrong. I say 'probably' because the cut you are cooking might be unusually tender coming from a happy, fat animal. As a rule, however, you will need really strong teeth as the meat will be hard work, to put it mildly. So if you like your steaks or chops without a hint of pink, you have to splash out on pricey cuts. Cheap ones are tender if either rare or cooked into oblivion.
Lamb neck fillet is one of those cuts; excellent and cheap. As I sincerely hope we all know, locally produced lamb is very seasonal; with very tender new season meat in late spring, arguably reaching the best flavour in summer and becoming hogget (not so tender but maturely tasty) and later mutton (tough, good for a pie) come late autumn and winter. Depending on when in its season you buy and cook it, the neck fillet will be a super-delicacy albeit a little bland, or a full of flavour toothsome piece of meat. At the latter stage especially you should give it just a quick flash in the pan.
My favourite method of cooking it is as below: marinate it well, grill for a short spell all over; rest, slice and serve. I like to divvy up lamb fillets between the diners rather than apportion one per person - invariably one fillet will be a little tougher, another meltingly tender, and so everyone gets a fair share.
grilled lamb filletServings: 2Time: 15 minutes plus marinating overnight
- 2 lamb neck fillets, trimmed off obvious silver skin or tendons
- salt (smoked if available) and black pepper
- For the marinade:
- a small bunch of coriander
- a small bunch of mint, leaves stripped
- a few sprigs of rosemary, leaves stripped
- 3 large cloves of garlic
- 1 red chilli, deseeded
- juice of one lemon
- 1 tbsp. honey
- 1 tbsp. olive oil
- 1 tbsp. sweet plum sauce
1. Season the lamb neck fillets generously with salt and pepper.
2. Throw the marinade ingredients into a blender and whizz to a paste, adding more oil if it looks too dry. Smother the fillets with the marinade and leave in the fridge for at least a few hours, best overnight.
3. When ready to cook, preheat the grill to medium-high and place the lamb underneath on the grill rack. Grill for 5 minutes, turn over and cook for another 5 minutes; plus – and this is tricky as the fillets persistently fall over – a minute on each thin side, so that it’s nicely browned all over.
4. Remove the fillets from the grill and let them rest in a warm place for at least five minutes. Slice on the diagonal and serve.