British Bites: Reform Lamb Cutlets

British Bites

Classic British dishes updated for the modern American cook.


[Photograph: Sydney Oland]

The French chef Alexis Soyer originally created this now classic dish for the Reform Club of London's Pall Mall area—and this breaded, fried lamb cutlet is still on the menu more than 100 years after the chef's death. In its bare essentials this dish is breaded lamb with a tangy vinegar-based sauce. There are many variations, some involving truffles and various wines. But this one, my favorite, uses ham in both the breading and the sauce.

Although the recipe title calls for cutlets, what seems to be the most popular choice is what is called a lamb rib chop over here in the States. If you don't have a great butcher near you, but can get your hands on a rack of lamb, carefully cut the rack between the bones to break it down into chops. Then carefully clean the bones by removing all the fat and meat clinging to the upper part of the bone, while keeping the meaty portion of the chop attached.

When making the sauce, the first reduction of the port and vinegar is essential to getting the tangy and sweet flavors that this dish needs. Take the time to reduce the port and vinegar until it is almost gone, but make sure to not scorch the sugars in the port, or the sauce could get a burnt and bitter flavor. Serve these cutlets along with mashed potatoes and peas, passing the sauce alongside.