Oh, how I love lamb. In spring it’s so much sweeter than during the rest of the year. I like to think of lambs grazing on sweet green shoots of spring grass. It’s worth sourcing organic lamb: there’s definitely a superior flavour when the lambs have been loved and well-fed, and consider specialty products like saltbush lamb because the flavour can be very special.
Lamb has quite a strong flavour so I try to enhance it, not mask it. That’s why it works so simply with salt, pepper and lemon. It doesn’t get better than meat on the spit in the backyard - I learnt that when I started seeing my husband Michael and getting an insight into the Greek love affair with lamb.
My favourite cuts are the cutlets and the shoulder, though lamb’s tongue is a close third. There’s not much that’s more thrilling than BBQ lamb cutlets with broad bean paste and hot fetta dressing, cooked to perfection, tender and juicy. Shoulder muscles are well-developed so they need slow cooking to tenderise the meat and make it rich, sticky and irresistible. You need a few hours up your sleeve to do lamb shoulder justice but it’s so easy to cook. Make a paste of garlic, salt, pepper, rosemary or oregano and rub it into the lamb, put it in a baking dish with a splash of water or wine, cover it with foil and cook it for three hours at 150C. Take the foil off, baste it and cook for another hour until the top is crispy and the meat is falling apart.
I’m always trying new spices with lamb. Lamb shoulder rack slow-braised with eggplant and allspice is lovely and cumin works well too. Sumac brings its vibrant, zingy, lemony flavour to grilled lamb chops, which I like to serve with yoghurt and freekah salad. Lamb shank is another cut I love. I make a delicious, sticky lamb shank pie flavoured with honey, cumin, coriander, leek, garlic and diced haloumi. I wrap it in filo and vine leaves, and serve it with pomegranate molasses and tahini yoghurt.