Ben’s meat newsletter: Sandwiches & BBQ’d lamb

First a quick rant. What’s the problem with the sandwich? Everybody seems to be sticking the knife in. It’s great news that sales of ‘made up’ sandwiches are on the wane; a mishmash of E number enhanced fillings, placed between slices of mushy, stodgy white bread about a week before eating doesn’t have much to recommend it. It’s truly staggering how many E numbers they can fit in a sandwich. However, this isn’t to say there aren’t some great sandwiches out there for the making.

First a quick rant. What’s the problem with the sandwich? Everybody seems to be sticking the knife in. It’s great news that sales of ‘made up’ sandwiches are on the wane; a mishmash of E number enhanced fillings, placed between slices of mushy, stodgy white bread about a week before eating doesn’t have much to recommend it. It’s truly staggering how many E numbers they can fit in a sandwich. However, this isn’t to say there aren’t some great sandwiches out there for the making. Judging by Jay Rayner and Henry Dimbleby on Radio 4’s The Kitchen Cabinet last week, the anti sandwich movement has become a stampede. Pair this with the gluten free thing we’re not allowed to mention (out of respect to coeliacs) and you have a coalition that could well take over Europe. My point is that just because most bought sandwiches are pretty bad, that doesn’t mean we have to rule out the whole genre. Fergus Henderson, of St Johns, took the bacon sandwich to the pearly gates of organoleptic heaven and Brindisa Tapas, of Borough Market, did the same with their ciabatta, chorizo, rocket and piquillo pepper combo. I’m not ashamed to admit to a soft spot for a Riverford ham and Tracklements English mustard sandwich (Colman’s is a bit strong so you can’t give it a good slathering – and don’t spare the butter), and you can’t beat a leftovers sandwich; roast chicken and stuffing, beef and horseradish, pork and apple sauce… the list goes on. It’s as much to do with texture as taste so add a bit of crunch with lightly toasted bread, salad leaves etc. I’m sure Messrs Rayner and Dimbleby would exclude various pitta and kebab concoctions from their general condemnation – which rather proves the point that they’re scaping the wrong goat.

As BBQ season gets into full swing, two welcome new additions to the range are baby back ribs and boneless butterflied lamb leg. Back ribs are the cut from the top of the ribs adjoining the loin so, although lean, they don’t take as much cooking as spare ribs from the belly and shoulder. I’d still be inclined to give them an hour or so in the oven on a minimum setting to get the cooking process started and ensure the meat slips off the bone. Butterflied leg of lamb is definitely the cream of the BBQ crop. Cooking steaks on BBQs is notoriously risky. It’s far easier to sear the muscles whole, allow to cook through to your liking, and then slice into thin steaks. There’s a recipe on the website for Grilled Leg of Lamb with Swiss Chard and Anchovy Gratin. Here’s a simplified version of the lamb part adapted for the BBQ.

BBQ lamb

BBQ Butterflied Leg of Lamb
Serves 2-3, prep 10 mins (plus overnight marinating), cook 35 mins

3 garlic cloves, crushed
1 tbsp chopped rosemary
2 tbsp lemon juice
2 tbsp olive oil
1 boneless butterflied lamb leg

First prepare the lamb. Mix together the garlic, rosemary, lemon juice, olive oil and a little seasoning to make a marinade. Place the lamb in a large dish, pour over the marinade and leave at room temperature for 8 hours or overnight, turning the meat every now and then. Remove the lamb from the marinade and pat dry. Preheat a BBQ or char-grill to high. Cook on the BBQ/char-grill for 10 mins, turning every couple of mins. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook, covered with foil or an upside down wok (the dog bowl works well) for 10 mins for medium, or until cooked to your liking. Transfer to a plate and loosely wrap with foil. Set aside for 15 mins to rest, then serve.

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