I realized while eating this dish that I don't cook nearly enough lamb. I've always considered it too expensive (lamb chops), or more suited for a crowd (the whole leg). I've had great success braising lamb shanks, but that's no meal for a quick weekday. So when this recipe from Nigel Slater called for a portion of the leg, I was intrigued. Turns out the "leg steak," or any butterflied piece of the leg, can be almost as tender as a good lamb chop, if cooked quickly over high heat and sliced against the grain.
The inspired flavors are from a recipe in Slater's book, The Kitchen Diaries, a thoughtful, frank, and beautifully written chronicle of the food he ate for a year. A dressing of soy sauce, lime juice, red chilies, sugar, and mint covers a handful of mixed greens (in this case, arugula, mint, spinach, and some sorrel I found at the market), which are just softened by the hot seared chunks of lamb. Sweet, sour, and hot were just in balance, and the subtle flavor of the meat was terrific.
About the author: Blake Royer lives in Brooklyn and spends most of his free time cooking and writing about it here at Serious Eats and on The Paupered Chef. From 9 to 5 weekdays, he works as an assistant book editor in Manhattan.
- 3/4 pound lamb leg steak or other meat from the leg
- 3 large handfuls mixed salad leaves, such as arugula, baby spinach, mint, sorrel, etc.
- 1/4 cup soy sauce
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 small fresh chili, preferably red, deseeded and minced
- Juice of 1/2 lime
- Handful of mint leaves, chopped
- 1 teaspoon sugar
Marinate the lamb in 2 tablespoons of the soy sauce and the minced garlic.
In the meantime, wash and tear the greens into pieces, if necessary.
Combine the remaining soy sauce, lime juice, chili, and sugar. Stir until the sugar is dissolved, and taste for a balance of salty, sweet, and sour. Add the mint leaves and stir to combine.
Grill, broil, or sear the lamb over very high heat until crisp and caramelized, and done to your liking. Allow to rest for 2-3 minutes after cooking, then slice across the grain into strips.