lamb breast with raisins and grapes
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Lamb breast is one of those cheaper cuts of what is an expensive kind of meat, with huge potential. Remember when pork belly was virtually unknown, only familiar with the dim-sum crowd? It is quite difficult now to find a place without the pig belly on the menu, both in simple and in posh outfits. I’m hoping that lamb breast might go viral as well, soon.
It doesn’t look pretty, it has to be said: a flabby lick of a cut, a bit meaty, a bit fatty but not decisively so like the pork. It looks like it will taste tough and chewy and sure thing it will, unless you cook it really slow. All the restaurants that serve ox cheeks and pig’s ears would know what I’m talking about: not just an hour – this beast is the three and a half hour customer.
It beats the piggy in that you can stuff it and roll it; it’s a very rolleable cut. It is also leaner though the pork belly fat is perfectly edible and not at all off-putting. What you stuff the lamb breast with is your flight of fancy: breadcrumbs and herbs, spices and cereal, mushrooms, spinach or cheese. I went for dried fruit on a distinctly sweet note to complement my roasted grapes.
And that’s an afterthought: even if you’re not at all tempted by the lamb breast, chalk up the roasted grapes. An absolutely gorgeous companion to any roasted meat, slow or not so slow.
lamb breast with raisins and grapesServings: 2-3Time: 4 hours plus marinating overnight
- 1 lamb breast (about 700g)
- a large bunch of seedless grapes
- For the marinade:
- 120ml (½ cup) pomegranate juice
- 120ml (½ cup) white wine
- 3 garlic cloves, peeled and roughly chopped
- 3-4 sprigs of fresh thyme, leaves stripped
- ½ bunch fresh rosemary, roughly chopped
- ¼ tsp ground black pepper
- For the stuffing:
- 4-5 sprigs of rosemary, leaves stripped
- zest grated from 1 lemon or lime
- 2 tsp pomegranate molasses or pomegranate powder (optional)
- 30g (1/3 cup) raisins or sultanas
- For the sauce:
- reserved marinade
- 1 tbsp. butter
- 1 tbsp. redcurrant jelly
1. If you bought a rolled lamb breast, unroll it for marinating. Pick a handful of grapes off the bunch and blitz them in a blender or food processor with all the marinade ingredients.
2. Pour the marinade into a large shallow dish and add the lamb, folded in half or three. Turn it over several times to coat well. Cover the dish with cling film and place in the fridge overnight.
3. Bring the meat to room temperature before cooking. Lift it from the marinade and pat dry; unroll it on a large chopping board. Sieve the marinade into a small saucepan for the sauce.
4. You can use dried rosemary to season the lamb but ground fresh rosemary is gorgeous: just blitz the stripped leaves in a coffee or spice grinder with a teaspoon of salt or breadcrumbs. It will keep in a spice jar for a good few weeks.
5. Preheat the oven to 170C/325F/gas 3. Sprinkle the lamb on the inside with salt, zest, pomegranate molasses or powder if using and about a heaped teaspoon of the rosemary powder. Spread the raisins evenly over the meat.
6. Roll up the breast tightly from the short edge into a very fat, short sausage. Tie it well with kitchen string.
7. Place it in a roasting dish with a cup of water, cover with a lid or tightly with aluminium foil and roast for 3 ½ hours. Take off the lid or the foil and roast for the final ½ hour uncovered. Remove from the oven and let it rest for about 15 minutes, loosely tented with foil.
8. Cut the grape stalk into several small bunches and place them on a small roasting tray brushed lightly with oil. Roast them for 15 minutes while the lamb is resting, until the start to split and wrinkle.
9. Prepare the sauce: bring the sieved marinade to the boil and cook down vigorously for 5 minutes. Take it off the heat and beat in the butter with a whisk. Taste and add the jelly if the sauce is too tart.
10. Cut off the string and slice the lamb thickly. Arrange it on the plates and serve with the roasted grapes and the sauce.