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Dish of the Week: Breast of Lamb

Jonathan Schofield enjoys a lovely breast at Sam's

Written by . Published on January 31st 2011.

Dish of the Week: Breast of Lamb

Braised and roasted rolled breast of lamb

Sam’s Chop House, Back Pool Fold, Chapel Walk, Cross Street, City. 0161 834 3210

How Much?

These are the virtues of the best British food, good raw materials, hard work in the preparation, timing to avoid the danger of over-cooking, and then voluptuous scale. Subtlety and presentation are secondary considerations.

Back before the Victorian age, before prudery and class tainted the over-achievement of the nineteenth century, the British had a reputation on the Continent for being a lusty lot largely because of the amount of red meat they ate and alcohol they drank. This was thought to inflame the blood, raise the passions.

Head chef Ian Leadbetter’s breast of lamb at Sam’s Chop House has all the best qualities of British food and adds in presentation and subtlety as well.

A breast of lamb (a slender piece of meat) is rolled, fat, membrane and flesh, roasted and braised, laid over haggis and swede and mash, greened with kale, and coloured with carrot puree. There’s home-made mint sauce on the side.

Slow cooking drags out the flavours, mixes and matches tastes and textures: the crackling-like outer skin gives snap and bite. This is a love-song to lamb.

And yet, in essence this is a peasant dish using a frequently forgotten cut of meat. Hard work in the preparation and cooking with these previously less-regarded cuts reaps rewards in complexity of flavour.

Matching this with the haggis, swede and potato is a stroke of genius. Adding extra value with the kale and the carrot puree shows the cleverness of the kitchen again.

And to sum upThe dish fits Sam’s Chop House like a glove. Some ranters on Confidential have worried about Sam’s in recent years. Put that behind you folks, with dishes like this it's bang back on form. The basement fug, the chatter, the atmosphere of being in a timeless British tavern all still works its magic.

Remember to get the ineffable sommelier George Bergier to recommend you a wine too. This time we had one I’d never heard of, an Aussie Shiraz from 2005 called Gunyah, which was a berry filled flavoured-rammed monster of a bargain – less than £18. If it had been twice that you wouldn’t have batted an eyelid.

A plate: almost licked

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8 comments so far, continue the conversation, write a comment.

GordoJanuary 30th 2011.

Is breast of lamb going to be the new belly pork? I remember my father slow roasting them for Sunday lunch, they were fantastic

Jonathan SchofieldJanuary 30th 2011.

Breast of lamb is I reckon Gordo. Kale's 'in' at the moment, and beetroot still has a fashionable food couple of years in it.

Paul MoutonJanuary 30th 2011.

Er...lunch sorte..yum

Tight ArseFebruary 1st 2011.

£14 seems a bit steep for the cheapest cut of meat in the world and a bit of mash though, no?

NortherngeezerFebruary 1st 2011.

My dear old mum has been doing breast of lamb all my life, and most of hers probably.
Laid flat on a baking tray, slow roasted, left to cool, cut in to strips then deep fried for a few seconds to crisp it up.
Healthy eating it aint but ohhhhhhhhhhhh, the taste.

Peter HarrisFebruary 1st 2011.

Gunyah available at Everywine for £125.36 a case. Great wine.

The Wine PoliceFebruary 1st 2011.

125.36 a case from Everywine?
It'd be cheaper to buy a case from Sam's if it comes under 18 notes a bottle.

RayFebruary 2nd 2011.

er, no. A case is 12 bottles for the most part. Thus the wine is c.£10 per bottle. If Sams is selling this at £18, then that's the lowest markup I have seen in the place since they were selling the £80 1964 Monte Real rioja for £99 (2008). Everywine can be expensive; I bet it's cheaper elsewhere.

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