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Mum's the word; food&drink.

Byline: bryan webb

ON Tuesday my mum reaches the ripe age of 80. It was she who inspired me to cook many years ago, when she would be cooking loads of things for the WRVS and I would ask if I could have a go. When the dishes turned out fine, it was always put down to beginners luck - thankfully the luck is still with me.

The other two women who influenced me were Sonia Blech, who taught me the basic skills, and the writing of Elizabeth David. Ms David wrote many cookery books on the food of Italy, France and other Mediterranean countries, which she researched during her travels during the 50s and early 60s. Many of her ideas are still to be found on my menus.

One recipe I always wanted to cook and eat of hers was breast of lamb St Mpounds npounds hould, in a book called An Omelette and a Glass of Wine. When I received my first new season spring lamb I did just that... and really enjoyed it.

Ms David originally wrote this recipe for her weekly column in The Spectator on August 111961, in which she refers to the cost of a breast of lamb in Harrods food halls at 6d a pound. It's more like pounds 1.60 a pound now, but for great Welsh lamb that's cheap.

As she says, it is not for the 10 minute cook. You will need to start the day before and it will need hours of slow cooking. We still get asked for mint sauce when we serve lamb, but I think it's far to strong to go with the tender and delicate taste of spring lamb.

However one sauce involving mint on a Sunday I am more than happy to serve alongside some slices of roast lamb is a paloise, which is a barnaise sauce flavoured with mint instead of tarragon. I am sure my mum would not agree as she likes her food plain and simple, but as she pointed me in the right direction all those years ago, who am I to argue with her? Happy birthday mum.

BREAST OF LAMB ST MENEHOULD (serves six)

ingredients

2 breast of spring lamb

1 large onion peeled and roughly chopped

2 carrots roughly chopped

3 sticks of celery chopped

4 bay leaves parsley stalks a large sprig of thyme and rosemary salt and pepper

1 beaten egg large spoonful of Dijon mustard dried bread crumbs

method

Pre set the oven to 15OdegC. Trim off any excess fat from the breasts and place in a large pot that will fit into your oven

Put all the vegetables and herbs in the pot, season lightly and cover with cold water. Place in the oven and slowly braise for three hours before checking. When the meat is soft take out of the oven and leave to cool

When it's at a temperature you can handle, slip out the bones and any gristle, place on a tray, cover with cling film and leave to cool in the fridge - put another tray on top with a weight on it

Next day cut the meat into strips about an inch wide, mix the egg and mustard together and paint onto the meat. Coat with bread crumbs, pressing them well down onto the meat and around the sides

Place on a tray and put into a hot oven and bake until crispy and brown - you can use a grill but you will need to be careful so that you do not scorch the meat

Serve with paloise or tartare sauce and a bowl of creamy mashed potatoes

SAUCE PALOISE

2 tbs white wine vinegar, glass white wine, 2 shallots finely chopped 1 tbs chopped mint, 4 egg yolks, 3 tbs water, 250g butter, juice of 1 lemon, salt and pepper

Combine shallots, vinegar and wine in a pan and reduce t0 half over a low heat. Mter and remove the creamy parts that will separate. Mix egg yolks and water together and whisk into the reduction for about five minutes over a very low heat. It must not get air hotter than 65degC. Slowly add the clarified butter, whisking all the time. Take off the heat, season with salt and pepper, add mint and lemon juice then serve

Bryan Webb is owner/chef of Tyddyn Llan, Llandrillo, near Corwen

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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Daily Post (Liverpool, England)
Date:Apr 28, 2007
Words:734
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