The Aperitif Guy, Features Writer
All around Yorkshire, you can see the signs of nature waking up. We’ve already seen crocus and daffodils come and gone on Harrogate Stray. Now the blackthorn and hawthorn are blossoming in the lanes and hedgerows of the Dales, and if you take a walk near a shady stream, it won’t be long before you notice the smell of ramsons – wild garlic. If you know an expert forager, you might even find a patch of wild morel mushrooms in the woods. With so much excitement outside, it’s time to look at cooking up something just as good for the table.
Like many others, I’ll be serving the new season Yorkshire lamb for my Easter Sunday lunch. I like the shoulder for roasting. It has fine layers of fat between the muscles, so stays lovely and moist when it cooks. This makes it perfect for large, laid-back gatherings like ours. There’ll be 10 of us, all told, with our children, grandchildren and friends included. An aperitif cocktail always turns into 2 or even 3 cocktails, and single muscle cuts like loin or lean leg joints would be in danger of drying out while I’m pouring another drink or playing with my grandson’s Magic Tracks on the floor.
When the lamb comes out, I’ll be serving it with minted potatoes and baby carrots, or maybe braised lettuce with lots of fresh herbs. We all know about mint sauce with lamb, and many a garden will have a decent crop of mint in it by now. Did you know, though, that you can make the same type of sauce with other herbs? Try it with lemon balm or sweet, aniseed-tasting chervil. Making mint sauce is easy. Simply take a handful of your chosen herb and chop it finely. Place it in a bowl with a couple of teaspoons of sugar and 2 tablespoons of boiling water. Leave it to stand for half an hour or so, then add vinegar to taste. (I usually go for a couple of tablespoons.)
If you fancy an alternative to lamb, I’d heartily recommend veal. Veal isn’t half as well regarded in this country as it should be, and we export rather a lot to countries like the Netherlands, where it is very popular. Those of us who choose to eat meat and dairy foods have to be honest with ourselves about the origin of our foods, and we cannot have cows’ milk without removing their calves. If we’re not prepared to tolerate live exports, we have two choices: eat the veal in this country or dispose of the carcases more wastefully.
A Guardian article from March 2018* estimated that up to 18% of male calves are destroyed on the farm and the carcasses incinerated or sold on for dog food. Personally, I’d rather see veal becoming more popular than tolerate such waste. It is tender and delicate, but still smells richly of beef. It’s high in natural ‘umami,’ that elusive, flavour-enhancing taste that we find in parmesan, soy sauce and manufactured monosodium glutamate. Serve veal exactly as you would beef or pork: with spring veg, Yorkshire puddings and gravy.
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The Aperitif Guy has a regular blog at blog.theaperitifguy.co.uk or you can follow him on Twitter @AperitifGuy
Delicious Spring, 16th April 2019, 19:26 PM