Friday, February 26, 2010

Breast of Lamb Ste. Menehould

Lamb breasts, also known as lamb ribs, come from the low-hanging part of the lamb's ribcage where the ribs are small and the meat is tough. Not rack-of-lamb material, not ribs-like-pork-ribs, not at all. Just marvelously cheap. Born to be braised.

I bought two pounds of lamb ribs planning to braise them like any bargain cut. When I got home, I decided to check with Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, figuring he might have something particular to say about lamb ribs. Did he ever. There is a wonderful thing called Breast of Lamb Ste. Menehould, and the e on Ste. means that it is, indeed, French. And yes, you braise the ribs. But then you slide the bones out, cut the meat into strips, egg-and-breadcrumb them, and broil them crispy. You serve the crispy strips of tender lamb with savory sauces, and everyone makes cooing noises.

Slightly adapted from The River Cottage Meat Book.

Breast of Lamb Ste. Menehould

Serves 4.

Rinse two pounds of lamb ribs. Place them in a large baking dish, interleaved with two sliced onions and several sprigs of rosemary. Season with salt and pepper. Pour in a glass of white wine and a glass of water. Cover the dish with a lid or tinfoil. Bake for three hours at 275.

Pull them out when very tender and let the ribs cool to a comfortable temperature. Gently tug each bone out of the meat. Stack the meat in a tray and place a weight on top -- like a heavy wooden cutting board with a jug of milk on top. Refrigerate for several hours or overnight.

Shortly before you plan to eat, take the cold pressed meat from the fridge and cut it into inch-wide slices. Mr. Fearnley-Whittingstall says they should be two fingers wide, but the picture shows slices about as wide as one of his fingers. Which, yes, is about two of mine.

Make sure your dipping sauces are ready. I made a harissa aioli (garlicky homemade mayonnaise with some jarred harissa mixed in). Mr. Fearnly-Whittingstall recommends either a homemade tartar sauce or mustard vinaigrette.

Beat an egg and have ready a cup or so of dried breadcrumbs and a quarter cup of melted butter. Spread the pieces of lamb with a little dijon mustard, dip them in the egg, and press them into the breadcrumbs. Brush them with the melted butter. Put the coated strips on a rack over a baking sheet and bake them at 350 for fifteen minutes. Turn on the broiler, and crisp the pieces for the final few minutes.

Serve immediately. Leftovers are nice the next day sliced thinly on a sandwich.


Jennifer Jo said...

Oh wow. Yum. And your opening photo is stunning.

Ken Albala said...

What a fantastic idea! Probably much more fun to eat than chicken fingers too. I've never heard of such a technique, thanks!