I finally got myself organised and went to St Andrews Farmers’ Market for the first time last month, bringing home some fantastic cheddar, as well as some Mojito jelly from one of the condiments stands. The cheese was eaten pretty rapidly, but I haven’t used the Mojito jelly yet, mostly because I wasn’t exactly sure what I wanted to do with it. The man who I bought it from suggested simply serving it with lamb (as you would serve mint sauce), and the idea of Mojito lamb has been playing on my mind ever since, though I felt like it should be kept for a special occasion, so I hadn’t really pursued the idea further.
A special occasion presented itself on Saturday evening – Craig’s birthday dinner. Perfect. Conveniently, Saturday morning was also this month’s Farmers’ Market, so I decided that I’d get lamb from the market in the morning, and then it could marinate in the afternoon as necessary. It all sounded like a great idea, but I just had to work out exactly how to do it. None of my recipe books had anything remotely resembling Mojito lamb (the closest recipe I found was tequila chicken, and it really wasn’t very similar at all), and searching online wasn’t especially inspirational either. When I stopped by Luvian’s (my local bottleshop) to get wine to go with it, Rich sounded rather unconvinced (though it might have helped if I’d known exactly how I was doing it – “uhm, well there will be rum, mint, sugar. I’ll probably marinate it, oh ya, throw in some lime zest, too. Might fry it, or roast it, depending on the cut, or something like that. I have no idea what I’m serving it with, possibly couscous of some description. And I haven’t decided what kind of rum I’m using yet either” probably isn’t the world’s best explanation). Kudos to Rich for managing to make sense of my haphazard description, but I came out feeling distinctly doubtful of the whole thing.
By Saturday morning, I still wasn’t really sure what I was doing. This resulted in a good 10 minutes of dithering in front of the lamb stand trying to decide which cut I wanted. I like my meat cooked very rare (practically galloping off the plate in fact), Kat likes hers well done, and Craig likes his somewhere in-between. A roast was never going to please everybody, so I went with leg steaks, so that they could all be fried for different lengths of time and (hopefully) everybody would be happy. One of the fundamental rules of having people over for dinner (particularly when it’s a special occasion) is to have previously tested the recipe (which by default means you should have a recipe in the first place). Consequently, I committed a serious dinner-hosting sin – when I eventually got around to doing the marinade a couple of hours before dinner, I very much made it all up as I went along (there was definitely no recipe, never mind a tried-and-tested one). I’m not sure how, but thankfully it turned out fine. More than fine actually – when fried, the lamb acquired a slightly caramelised flavour from the sugar, which was counter-balanced by the rum and lime zest, as well as the chilli and lime zest in the couscous that was served on the side. Thank goodness! Oh, and I should add that I completely forgot to add the Mojito jelly to the sauce as I’d originally thought I might. Oops.
Recipe from my imagination
This is actually a fairly quick recipe to prepare, since everything is more or less just mixed together and left to marinate before frying. I served it with couscous to which I had added a finely chopped de-seeded chilli pepper, the zest of 1 lime and about 5 finely chopped and sautéed shallots.
For the marinade:
150ml spiced rum (add more as you feel necessary)
50g demerrera sugar
15g fresh mint leaves, chopped
Zest of 1 lime (keep the lime, the juice is needed later)
4-5 tbsp olive oil
650g lamb leg steaks
Juice of 1 lime
Mint leaves to garnish (optional)
1. Mix all the marinade ingredients together with some ground black pepper in a large dish or bowl.
2. Trim any fatty bits off the lamb leg steaks and add them to the marinade, making sure that they are well coated. Cover the dish or bowl with a lid or cling film and allow to marinate for at least 1 ½ hours in the fridge.
3. When ready to cook, drain the steaks, though reserve the marinade. Heat some olive oil in a large frying pan, and fry the leg steaks for several minutes on each side, until done to your liking (this will depend on the thickness of the steaks and also on your personal preference).
4. Remove the steaks to a serving plate and cover with tin foil to keep them warm. Deglaze the pan with the lime juice, then add the marinade and allow to simmer down for a few minutes.
5. Serve the leg steaks garnished with some fresh mint (optional) with the Mojito sauce on the side (a bit like a gravy) and a shallot, chilli and lime couscous.