Wednesday, 20 June 2012

Griddled sumac lamb with herby lemon peas

As with asparagus, the season for fresh peas and broad is brief so it's good to make the most of them before resorting once more to the useful frozen standbys. I find podding very therapeutic and it's a nice task while listening to the radio or watching TV.

The lamb here is not a million miles from souvlaki except I've not used skewers here. The principle is the same though - marinate then griddle. Peas are naturally sweet so balance well with the tartness of the lemon.

What you need:
150g lamb fillet
1 heaped teaspoon of sumac
1 small shallot, finely chopped
A portion of fresh peas
A generous handful each of flat-leaf parsley and mint
Half a lemon
Half a small preserved lemon
Olive oil
Seasoning

What to do:
Marinate the lamb - cube it, trimming off any excess fat, then put it in a bowl with a couple of tablespoons of olive oil, the juice from the half-lemon and the sumac. Set aside for 30 minutes while you pod the peas.

Sauté the shallot in a small knob of butter until it's soft and translucent. While it's cooking, boil the peas - they need 3-4 minutes depending how big they are. Wash the herbs, pat them dry with kitchen roll and cut the stems off. Chop the leaves, but not too finely.

Heat a cast iron grill pan until it's almost smoking hot.Grill the lamb cubes for 2-3 minutes each side.

Turn the heat right down under the shallots, add the herbs and stir through. Let them wilt for a few minutes then add the peas and finely sliced lemon. Season to taste and keep warm on a low hob until the lamb's ready. 

Make a bed of the peas and place the lamb on top.


Cook's tips: 
As an alternative to oil and lemon juice for the marinade, you could use plain yoghurt mixed with the sumac - its acidity works just as well as lemon in tenderising the meat, while its fat will keep it moist.

Be careful not to overcook the herbs - you want them just wilted and no more.

For a generous portion of peas, you need about 500g or just over 1lb in their pods. I really like the sharp, sour saltiness of preserved lemon but if it's too much for you use the zest of a fresh lemon instead.