Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Grilled lamb steak with sweet potato mash

I absolutely love lamb, it's one of my favourite meats despite not being quite as versatile as others. If I have guests, it's a good excuse to roast a leg studded with garlic and rosemary. Conjuring up something tasty for one is a little trickier. There's the ubiquitous lamb chop - I buy chops, I'll often roast them with them root vegetables, adding the meat only for the last 10 or 15 minutes. The problem is you don't get a lot of meat on a chop, so you may need several for a decent portion.

I pick up leg steaks if I see them on the butcher's slab, especially if they are on special offer. Leg steaks are usually fairly lean and you can cook them quickly on the hob over a high heat, as quickly as a beef steak.

As winter approaches, this dish ranks well as comfort food and for that extra touch I'll make a quick redcurrant jus to accompany.

What you need: 
1 or 2 lamb leg steaks (depending on size and hunger)
2-3 sweet potatoes
Half-fat crème fraiche
Salt and black pepper
Olive oil
Half a dessert spoonful of redcurrant jelly
Half a glass of red wine.

What to do:
Put the lamb steak on a small plate and rub generously with the olive oil. Set aside. Peel and chop the sweet potatoes into 1-inch chunks. Put them on to boil but do not salt the water. They are ready when they break up when you stick in a fork in them - about 20 minutes. Heat a cast iron griddle pan on a high heat. Toss on the steaks - they need 4-5 minutes each side, depending on size and how pink you like your lamb. Season with salt and a little pepper. If you are very hungry, you could also put a second vegetable on now - my fallback is frozen peas.

Meanwhile dissolve the redcurrant jelly in a small pan with the red wine and heat gently until it's only just simmering. If you have any fresh rosemary to hand you can add a small sprig. When the sweet potatoes are soft enough, drain them well, crush them with a potato masher or a wooden spoon and beat in a generous dessert spoonful of creme fraiche. Season well with black pepper.

Put the meat and mash on a plate and pour the redcurrant jus over the steak.

Cook's tips:
Lamb can be quite fatty and it's not healthy fat but the artery-hardening variety. Leg steaks are usually quite lean but do trim off any excess fat.

Redcurrant jelly tends to appear in the shops only in the run-up to Christmas, but if you don't have any use cranberry preserve instead, which is now available all year round. Redcurrant works particularly well with lamb, but any red berry sauce is a good partner. The wine helps to take the edge off the sweetness of the jelly.

With ordinary potato mash, I like to add plenty of butter and even a splash of cream to enrich it, but you don't need these with sweet potatoes. They are indeed sweet so the crème fraiche adds a welcome touch of acidity and the pepper adds a spicy note.