Braised Lamb, Peas, Crème Fraîche and Mint

Revolutionise your Sunday Lunch with this tender and rich braised leg of lamb with a creamy pea and mint sauce.

The Book of St John: Still a Kind of British Cooking
By &

Introduction

It is important to stress the wonder of slippery pea: olive oil, crème fraîche and chicken stock, the three lubrications combine to create that glorious slipperiness.

To serve 6 happily

Ingredients

sea salt and black pepper
1 lamb shoulder on the bone
a few glugs of extra virgin olive oil
20 shallots, peeled and left whole
20 cloves of garlic, peeled and left whole
1 bundle of joy (see below)
½ a bottle of white wine
a ready supply of chicken stock
2 healthy tbsp Dijon mustard
4 healthy tbsp of crème fraîche
a few handfuls of fresh or frozen peas
2 bundles of mint, leaves picked and stalks retained for the bundle of joy

Instructions

Don’t be afraid of a frozen pea. A chef who shall remain unnamed once told Fergus, ‘Wait until peas are in season, then use frozen.’ A comfort for the home cook.

Season the shoulder well, then heat a large frying pan over a medium heat with a splash of olive oil and brown the lamb all over.

Place it in an ovenproof dish or roasting tray large and deep enough to accommodate the joint with a little space. Gently sweat the shallots and garlic in the lamby frying pan for 3 or 4 minutes, without colouring them, and nustle these around the shoulder with the bundle of joy.

The basic contents of a bundle of joy are as follows: parsley stalks, thyme, rosemary, bay leaves. These should be tied together tightly, restraining the stalks from unwelcome stalky appearances in your braise. But remember – use this list as a rough guide rather than a tablet of stone. Nothing is essential; just use what you have to hand. There is generally a parsley stalk or two lurking around to make it all worthwhile.

Place the roasting tray over a medium heat and pour in the white wine. Reduce by half, then add the chicken stock and an extra glug of olive oil administered like squirts of factor 50 at the beach: a generous coating. While the liquid returns to a simmer, take a small bowl and whisk together the mustard and crème fraîche, loosening the mixture with a couple of spoonsful of the simmering stock. Pour the resulting sauce into the tray. The liquid does not have to cover everything – remember that you are looking for the alligators-in-the-swamp effect.

Place in a barely medium oven for at least 3 hours, the crème fraîche and meat juices unify while it blips away. Check the shoulder with a skewer and, when the meat is tender and yielding, add the peas and return to simmer in the oven for a few minutes longer.

Reinforce the seasoning if needed, discipline your mint leaves and fold through to finish.

The leftover braising juices and slippery peas make an excellent sauce for farfalle – a favourite for staff dinners.

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