Lamb neck with Pimms and citrus

 In Ingredients, Meat, Poultry & Game, Mutton/Lamb, Slow Cooked, Spring, Summer

I can still vividly remember the first visit to my local butcher in a city which shall remain nameless. I asked for one pound of lamb neck. ‘No we don’t get much call for it so we don’t get any in’. I couldn’t believe it, I’d moved to the land of neckless lambs, no more would I be able to enjoy this joyful and inexpensive slow braised cut. It was a sobering thought. This rosy faced butcher getting shrink wrapped cuts of meat to order rather than whole beasts, where the cheaper, and perhaps less popular cuts could be sold to the devout lamb neck and pigs trotter following was complete anathema to me.

Fortunately my neckless lamb days are behind me, and I now have a wonderful source of hill lamb. And as the sun is appearing in the sky again, and farmers are working their backsides off lambing day and night, I can say with confidence that Spring is upon us. Almost. And with longer evenings of sunshine, and a glut of bank holidays in the offing, many a mind will turn to what for me seemed the ultimate expression of posh. Pimms. I’m long since converted to a drink that essentially becomes an alcoholic fruit salad, but I’d never really thought of cooking with it. And if I’m honest, I didn’t, I have to give credit to wine officianado, Scottish tea grower, and all round good guy Richard Ross for this spark of genius. We discussed different drinks to accompany lamb – Tokaji (not sure why I had that idea), Dubonnet (actually works very well), and then Pimms. And suddenly a vision of lamb, citrus, and mint, swimming in red booze came to pass. So here it is, what better dish to have as spring peeps through the occasional gale force snow storm?

Lamb neck with Pimms and citrus

Lamb neck with Pimms and citrus

600g lamb neck
Quarter navel orange quartered
Half lemon quartered
10-12 echallion shallots halved
8-10 mint leaves roughly torn
Large sprig lemon thyme
Salt and pepper
100ml Pimms
50ml vodka – optional

Method

Set the oven to 160C. Season the meat all over with freshly ground salt and pepper. Place in a casserole dish with a lid.

Place the fruit, vegetables, and herbs on top. Pour over the Pimms and vodka. Add a little water if its a very shallow dish and the liquid doesn’t half cover everything

Place in the oven for 2.5-3.5 hours, until the meat is meltingly tender. Check after two hours to ensure the dish isn’t drying out.

Serve with the shallots, and a piece each of the orange and lemon which should be beautifully caramelised.

Lamb neck with Pimms and citrus

 

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