No food captures the essence of the English countryside and distills the season of spring quite like a dish of lamb. When Gregory (the youngest Gladwin Brother who never really leaves the family’s Sussex Farm) says he has a batch of animals ready to go, that is the trigger for action – rounding up and off to the abattoir, butchery days in the prep kitchens and menus planned to make best use of the new produce.
Our restaurants are of course closed for now but seasons in the countryside don’t stop, even for Covid-19. Our vines are bursting into life, the woodlands are revealing their first offerings of fungi and wild herbs, the elderflower blossoms are just opening up, asparagus and 3 cornered leeks are shooting out of the brown earth in the veg beds and of course it is the new season for Lamb. Spring is such a wonderful time of year for fine local produce – much of which is fresh as a daisy, furnishing cooks with the best of the year’s flavours.
Sussex lamb has a great reputation the world over and offers a terrific variety of fast and slow cooking cuts. Farm to Fork sustainable eating, however, relies on eating all the awkward bits of an animal as well. Lamb mince is an inexpensive and gloriously underrated treat. It can be used as the base for a shepherds pie or mousaka but it’s also the centrepiece of this week’s delicious lamb and hazelnut kofta recipe.
Simple to make, very moreish and perfect with the minted courgette yoghurt served alongside.
Lamb & hazelnut kofta
Equipment: 8 x 20cm bamboo skewers
Ingredients (Serves 4)
Rapeseed Oil for cooking
1 white Onion- Finely chopped
½ tsp Cumin Seeds,
1 small red chili- deseeded and finely diced
400g minced lamb
1 small bunch Chives- finely chopped
Juice of 1 Lemon Juice
Salt & Pepper
For the Yoghurt Dressing
250 ml Natural live Yoghurt
1 Courgette – grated and squeezed
10 Fresh Mint leaves- off the stork and finely shredded
Salt, pepper and za’atar spice
- Heat a little oil in a pan over a moderate heat, add the Onion, Cumin Seeds and Chili. Fry for 5 minutes until soft.
- Place the lamb mince in a large mixing bowl, add the Onion mix, Chives, Lemon juice, and a dash of oil. Season with Salt and Pepper, Blend together using a wooden spoon.
- Divide the mixture into 8 even amounts, mould them individually into long ovals and thread each onto a bamboo skewer.
- Place the chopped hazelnuts on a dinner plate then roll the lamb skewers in the nuts to coat the outsides.
- Place the Lamb skewers in the fridge for at least 1 hour to “set” before cooking.
- Meanwhile prepare the Yoghurt dressing- Mix the yoghurt, Grated Courgette ( be sure to squeeze out most of the juice) and shredded mint. Season with Salt, Pepper and Za’atar spice if you have it.
- Set aside ready to serve.
- Heat a heavy griddle pan over a high heat. Brush the Lamb skewers with a little extra oil, place them onto the hot griddle and press them down. Don’t try to turn the meat over until it is properly seared on the underside or it will stick.
- Cook for 4-5 minutes turning onto all sides until the meat is cooked and slightly charred.
- Serve with plenty of the Yoghurt dressing alongside.
Richard, Oliver and Gregory are co-founders of The Shed, Sussex and Nutbourne restaurants in London where the menus draw on produce from their family-owned Sussex farm.