As you may know, I grew up in England. Each Sunday, along with many other families we always had a roast for lunch. The leftovers from the meat were transformed into one or two dishes later in the week. We always seemed to have the meats in rotation, chicken, pork (with plenty of crackling), beef with Yorkshire Puddings and lamb with mint sauce and so on. Thus began my life long aversion to mint sauce (but not lamb) but that’s another story. So have we lost our love of lamb?
We’re incredibly lucky in Scotland. Our Scotch Lamb has PGI status. This status includes:
- Quality Guarantee: this guarantees a specific production method and controls which are stricter than those required by legislation.
- A Superior Character: which also guarantees our meat to have specific characteristics or quality that is superior to usual commercial standards.
- 100% Traceable: complete traceability of all our products.
- Clear Labelling: this allows you to identify quality products, their origin and their characteristics
Bottom line, if you label lamb as Scottish, it has to have been born and raised here to Farm Assured standards (at least in Scotland).
An astonishing fact for you to digest, is that in Scotland we eat HALF as much lamb as in the rest of the UK as a percentage of population. So Quality Meat Scotland decided to do something about it.
Wham Bam Thank You Lamb
It’s a curious but catchy name for a campaign (Wham Bam Thank you Mam as sung by David Bowie’s in Suffragette City or by the Small Faces?). It’s aim? To think about cooking lamb any day of the week. Not roasts. Not long slow cooked cuts (which, of course have their place and I adore). But quick, easy recipes that the family will devour.
A flock of bloggers met up at the Edinburgh New Town Cookery School to watch 3 dishes being cooked: meatballs, biryani and lemony crusted loin. We then chose one to cook in the school’s kitchen – which was great fun in itself. Trying to cook efficiently and quickly in an unknown kitchen certainly put the pressure on!
Each dish took less than 1/2 hour to make. We used neck fillet for a lamb ‘biryani’; lamb mince for meatballs and fillet for lemony crusted lamb. Each was delicious, but I decided I’d cook the lamb for the ‘biryani’ a lot longer at home.
I decided to cook the meatballs. This is a great recipe. It’s very flexible – you can add different spices and herbs to create your favourite flavours. They are served with a robust tomato sauce which marries perfectly with the lamb. Pasta is suggested as an accompaniment, but I’d go for mashed potato any day. Here’s the recipe, courtesy of Quality Meat Scotland. You’ll notice my top tips for adding different flavours. Lamb will definitely be on my menu!
Meatballs and Tomato Sauce
- 400g minced Scotch Lamb
- ½ large onion, finely chopped
- 1 clove of garlic, crushed and chopped
- 2 tbs breadcrumbs
- A handful of fresh herbs, chopped (we used tarragon). You could use 1-2 teaspoons of spices such as cumin or coriander.
- 1 medium-hot chilli deveined and seeds removed, chopped (optional)
- 1 medium egg (you can omit this, it will just be a little more crumbly)
- Olive or rapeseed oil for frying
- Salt and pepper
- ½ large onion chopped
- Tin of tomatoes
- 1 clove of garlic, crushed and chopped
- 6 fresh cherry tomatoes (you could leave these out)
- Olive or rapeseed oil
- Salt, pepper and a teaspoon of sugar
- Fresh hersbs, bayleaf - whatever you have to hand.
- Mix all the ingredients for the meatballs together (except the olive oil) and form into balls about the size of a golf ball. Pop into the fridge to firm up a little whilst you start the sauce. If you prefer a smoother meatball, cook the onion, garlic and chilli until soft before adding to the remainder of the ingredients.
- For the sauce, gently cook the onions and garlic until soft in 1-2 tablespoons of oil. Add the tinned tomatoes and herbs and cook on low heat.
- Take the meatballs out of the fridge. Heat the oil in the pan and add 5 or six balls and brown on each side and cooked through - it's fine to keep it a little pink. Keep warm whilst you cook the next batch.
- Test the sauce for flavouring adding salt and pepper and a teaspoon of salt. This will mellow the flavour. When the sauce is soft and cooked through add the cherry tomatoes (if using) and cook until just starting to disintegrate.
- To serve, add sauce to your plate and pop meatballs on top.
Find out More
Discover more lamb recipes and recipe booklets.
Watch Graeme Pallister of 63 Tay Street Restaurant cook this recipe and other dishes.
Edinburgh New Town Cookery School on Twitter