I’ve said before that our local lamb has excellent flavour in the summer, but the choice cuts can be expensive.
Best end new season chops, grilled and served with a pea, broad bean and mint salad, is a lovely summer treat that can only be enjoyed once in a while because of the price.
The cheaper cuts of lamb such as shoulder and breast need long, slow cooking and seem to be forgotten until the days shorten and the temperature drops.
By rearranging the way you cook the meat you can enjoy a slow-cooked dish in the warmer months.
If you use a lighter stock and add summer vegetables near the end of cooking, a braised lamb dish does not have to be heavy and wintery.
I use white wine instead of red and put fresh tomatoes and garlic in at the beginning of cooking which leaves the meat lightly coloured.
Bay leaves and thyme add background flavour while courgette and tomato are added later for summer freshness.
As I write, the heavens have opened and the temperature has fallen outside which would give an ideal backdrop for this dish.
Ingredients (serves four)
Half shoulder lamb boned and rolled
150ml white wine
600ml chicken stock
4 cloves garlic quartered
1 onion chopped
1 leek chopped
3 plum tomatoes chopped
1 teaspoon tomato paste
10 white peppercorns
1 onion chopped
2 sticks celery chopped
White of 1 leek chopped
3 cloves garlic sliced
2 tomatoes, skins and seeds removed and flesh diced
1 courgette diced
1. Sweat the onion, garlic and leek in a little olive oil in a casserole dish, without colouring.
2. Add tomato paste and cook for two minutes. Add chopped tomatoes.
3. Pour in white wine and stock. Add thyme and bay leaf.
4. Bring to the boil. Add the lamb, peppercorns and pinch of salt.
5. Return to a simmer, cover with a lid and transfer to a pre-heated oven gas 2.5/150C.
6. Cook for three hours until the lamb is tender.
7. Remove the lamb and keep warm.
8. Strain the cooking liquid through a sieve and discard the cooked vegetables.
9. In a clean saucepan sweat the second set of onion, leek and celery in a little olive oil.
10. Add the garlic and the liquid from the cooked lamb.
11. Reduce by half, taste and season.
12. Add the courgette and diced tomato flesh and cook for one minute.
13. Pour this over the lamb and serve.
Lawrence’s restaurant is Fat Olives at Emsworth (fatolives.co.uk; 01243 377914)