This summer the feeling of warm sun on our faces seems to go on and on. In the last couple of months, we have been busier than ever with so many visitors for the Commonwealth Games and the Edinburgh Festival. It’s wonderful seeing them enjoying our countryside and the great food it produces.
It’s Love Scotch Lamb Weekend, so this week I want to share a recipe for one of my favourite things – lamb chops. I adore them. Sweet, tender, crispy, and with a handy handle so you can pick them up.
Scotch Lamb is a Protected Geographical Indicator (PGI) product, marketed by the Quality Meat Scotland Farm Assurance Scheme with very strict rules for entry.
The lambs have to be born, raised and slaughtered in Scotland, so when you see the Scotch Lamb label you have the confidence it’s going to be good.
I buy whole animals for the restaurant and butcher them myself, which allows us the freedom to find new cuts and experiment.
One of my favourite tastes in the lamb world is native Shetland lamb, which is born, raised and slaughtered on Shetland and qualifies for Protected Designation of Origin status, like Parma ham or Camembert.
It’s a delicious smaller breed, very seasonal and not ready until late summer.
We sometimes forget how hard farmers work and what goes into producing great food for our tables. We tend to take this for granted, so let’s try to support our true food heroes more.
So this weekend, make sure you get some juicy Scotch Lamb goodness all over your chops.
SCOTCH LAMB CHOPS, LYONNAISE POTATOES and SPINACH
Scotch Lamb – a true mark of excellence. Lamb chops prepared this way are quite simply stunning. Served with classic Lyonnaise potatoes, spinach and some mustard to bring it all together; it’s a dish we can all achieve. I think lamb chops can end up a tad chewy if they are served too rare, so I’m suggesting you roast them a bit longer with a sprig of rosemary and a few cloves of garlic. Heavenly.
1 Heat the rapeseed oil in a frying pan and fry the seasoned lamb all over. Add the garlic and rosemary to the pan, then place in a moderate oven for 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow it to rest for a few minutes. If you’re using chops, you can fry and roast as above, and then slice before serving.
2 To make the Lyonnaise potatoes, slice the potatoes as if for sautéeing, season and fry in a pan with a little oil and a wee knob of butter. Cook until golden brown before adding the caramelised onion and the mustard.
3 Wilt the spinach in a pot with a little butter and season with salt and pepper.
4 To serve, arrange the potatoes on a plate and place the spinach on top. Divide each rack of lamb into three chops and arrange on top of the potatoes and spinach. Serve with the roasted garlic and rosemary and a good pinch of salt.
LAVENDER CRÈME BRÛLÉE AND RASPBERRIES
Brûlées are one of our most popular puddings. I would be in big trouble if I ever took them off the menu. But I do change the way we serve this dessert according to the seasons. This week it’s Blacketyside Farm raspberries from Fife, with a lavender-infused brûlée. In the Med, these delicate flowers are used widely in cooking.
Makes 12 ramekins
1 In a thick-bottomed pan, bring the cream to the boil and add the lavender flowers, set to one side.
2 Combine the egg yolks and sugar and whisk until pale and light. Pour the lavender cream mixture in and stir well. Return to a clean pan and stir/whisk gently until the mix reaches 86C. If you don’t have a probe thermometer, cook the custard for a minute or two longer than ordinary custard, until thick. Strain into a jug.
3 Place a few raspberries in the bottom of your ramekins and pour the custard over. Leave to set overnight in the fridge.
4 Just before serving, dust the surface of each ramekin with sugar and glaze with a blowtorch, or under a very hot grill. Serve with a few scattered raspberries and a sprig of lavender.
HAND-DIVED SCALLOPS AND PANZANELLA
If I had to name one of my favourite things to eat, I’d say scallops. I only ever buy the hand-dived variety from Guy Grieve’s fabulous Ethical Shellfish Company. They aren’t always available, but when we do have them on the menu they sell like hot cakes. Here, I’ve coupled them with a delicious Italian panzanella salad, ideal to use up leftover bread. If you can’t get scallops, try some mackerel, or just have the salad on its own. Tomatoes from the Clyde Valley add colour and sweetness to this dish. And don’t leave out the capers or the splosh of bramble vinegar, as it turns this dish into something outstanding. I get my vinegar from Summer Harvest Oils.
1 Make the croutons by frying the bread in butter for a couple of minutes, tossing all the time.
2 Next, heat 25ml of rapeseed oil in a pan. Season the scallops and fry them for a few minutes on each side.
3 Make the panzanella by combining the croutons, tomatoes, herbs, capers, red onion, cucumber, vinegar, remaining oil and radishes in a bowl. Season to taste and mix well.
4 To serve, arrange the salad and scallops between four plates and dress with a few salad leaves.
12 hand-dived scallops, removed from the shell and cleaned
a chunk of leftover bread, crusts removed and cut into 1cm dice
a knob of butter
50ml cold-pressed rapeseed oil
salt, freshly-ground black pepper
a handful of red and yellow Clyde Valley tomatoes, halved and quartered
a few mint and basil leaves
1 tbsp capers
1 red onion, finely chopped
1 cucumber, cut into 1cm cubes
50ml bramble vinegar
a few radishes, sliced
a few salad leaves
2 racks of Scotch lamb, or allow for 3 chops per person
some rapeseed oil for frying
a few cloves of garlic
a sprig of rosemary
2 or 3 handfuls of potatoes, like Sharpe’s Express, scrubbed and par-boiled
a knob of butter
1 medium onion, sliced and fried in a little oil until golden
1 tbsp wholegrain Arran mustard
salt, freshly ground black pepper
4 handfuls baby spinach
125ml double cream
handful of lavender flowers, plus a few sprigs for serving
17 egg yolks
140g caster sugar
a punnet of raspberries
extra caster sugar for glazing