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Spring Lamb


At this time of year, tv chef Nick Nairn recommends a simple recipe for spring lamb.

"A perfect example of the motto the simpler the better." he says. "If you are lucky enough to get your hands on some good native new season's lamb then this recipe is all you need for a really tasty dish.

"No fancy sauces or garnishes needed here, just a nice piece of perfectly cooked marinated meat and some new potatoes in buttery basil juices.  The meat needs to be marinated a couple of days in advance for maximum flavour and to finish it off all you have to do is fling it in the frying pan for a few minutes.

Serves 4
5 tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves garlic crushed
leaves from 2 sprigs of fresh rosemary
450g (l lb) loin of lamb, trimmed but with the skin still on
freshly ground black pepper
450g (l lb) new potatoes
Maldon salt
25g (1oz) fresh basil leaves
50g (2 oz) butter

Put three tablespoons of the olive oil, the garlic and the rosemary leaves into a small dish, just large enough to take the lamb.  Add the loin, season with about 12 turns of a black pepper mill and then turn it over in the mixture so that it gets well coated.

Cover and set aside to marinate for 4 to 5 hours at room temperature or, better still, for 12 to 36 hours in the fridge, giving the loin a turn every now and then in the marinade.

When you are ready, cook the potatoes in boiling salted water for 20 to 25 minutes until tender.  Meanwhile, lift the lamb out of the marinade and pick off any bits of garlic and rosemary as they will burn.  season the meat with salt.  Heat a frying pan until it is very hot.  Add the lamb and the rest of the oil and cook for three minutes on each side until the meat is nicely browned on the outside but still pink in the centre.  Remove the pan from the heat and set it aside somewhere warm for ten minutes to allow the meat to relax.

Finely chop the basil.  Drain the potatoes and return them to the pan with the butter, basil and a pinch of salt and pepper.  Toss together well.  Carve the lamb across into thin slices.  Divide the potatoes between four warmed plates
and place some of the lamb on top.  Spoon the buttery juices left in the potato pan around the edges of the plates and serve.

Taken from Island Harves by Nick Nairn, published by BBC Books.

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