The Weekender: Roast loin of lamb with braised lettuce

Time for #4 in our `The Weekender' series - roast loin of lamb with braised lettuce, peas and bacon. A meaty summertime dish, which makes the most of the seasonal glut of lettuce.

A brief intro to ‘The Weekender’

It’s simple: every week we pick a recipe from our database and not only cook it, but cost it too. Team lovefood will make the recipe at the weekend, and post photos of our progress on Facebook for you all to laugh at. But sometimes we get lonely, and we’d love it if you, our cherished readers, would cook-a-long with us too. Tell us if you enjoyed it, share your snaps, and rustle up a fantastic meal!

The recipe

BRYNThis week’s ‘Weekender’ comes from Bryn Williams, a Welsh chef who has worked under both Marco Pierre White and Michel Roux. He shot to fame in 2006, when he got to cook the fish course for the Queen’s 80th birthday celebrations on the telly programme Great British Menu.

Here he uses very simple ingredients, relying on the quality of the fresh vegetables and meat to steal the show. First Bryn sears and bakes his lamb loin, then while it’s resting he fries bacon and onion until crispy; adds lamb stock and brings to the boil; then plops in fresh peas, butter for sheen, lettuce and mint. A simple, light casserole(ish) dish, which can be on the table in under an hour.

Lamb and lettuce

lambWhen purchasing lamb, look for firm flesh that is evenly marbled with flecks of fat. Fresh lamb must be used within three days, or if you wrap it up well it can be freezed for up to six months. The loin is a very tender, prized section of the lamb, usually sold cut into chops. They’re slightly leaner than rib chops and lack the rib bone. Loin chops are excellent grilled, broiled, and sautéed, are best enjoyed cooked rare to medium-rare.

lettuceAs for the greenery to this dish, it would be fantastic if made with home-grown lettuce. When picking leaf lettuce, it’s probably best to avoid the first layer as these leaves are generally smaller and can be bitter. The next layer in will be strong in flavour, and from there move your way into the middle of the lettuce, picking the largest leaves. Smaller leaves will begin to grow in their place as long as the weather stays cool enough for them to grow (lettuces don’t do well above 18-20C).

The shopping

There are only seven ingredients to this impressive dinner party main, and it’s only the lamb loins that you’ll really have to cough up for. If you don’t like loins, then try lamb sirloin steaks or lamb leg chops, the latter of which will be cheaper, but not as tender. Ideally you should buy your lamb from the butchers, but we’ve calculated the costs of supermarket produce just in case you can’t reach one.

This week we’ve done our shopping at Waitrose.
£4.25 for 2 Duchy Original loins of lamb
£2.39 for the bacon (with plenty left over)
16p for the onion
£2.49 for fresh lamb stock (or maybe you make your own?)
£2.99 for fresh peas (with plenty left over)
48p for the lettuce
£1 for fresh mint
We’ve assumed that you’ve already got a knob of butter, vegetable oil, and seasoning.

Weekender shopping list

Quick as a flash

Aside from the meltingly tender lamb and fresh garden greens (it’s like England on a plate), the best thing about this dish is how quick it is to make. You have to sear your lamb with patience (if you rush it, you’ll lose much more flavour and colour), but the warming broth – made from your stock, bacon, and garden greens – takes all of five minutes to make. It must be taken off the heat almost immediately after you add the mint.

Why not try it as a speedy dinner party main?

You might also like

The Weekender: Pasta with rich meat sauce

The Weekender: Caramelised French onion soup

The Weekender: Seasonal vegetable and parmesan tart



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