23 APRIL 1994, Page 50

Return to our muttons

CRY 'God for Harry, England and Saint George, whose feast it is today, 23 April. Poor St George, another demoted saint, but nevertheless he is still the patron of England. But how many of you have a rose on your bosom? We are told how this Cap- padocian knight was riding through Libya and came upon a city called Sylene which was being terrorised by a huge, fearsome beast which he slew, thus saving the king's daughter. Setting aside the legend, we can be pretty sure that George did suffer mar- tyrdom around the year 303, and a strong tradition says that this took place at Lydda in Palestine. To celebrate let us have that most impressive-looking English (OK, British) dish:

Crown roast of lamb 1 crown roast of lamb (about 14 cutlets) For the stuffing: 8 oz fresh white breadcrumbs or 8 oz long- grain rice, boiled and drained

1 lemon, grated rind and juice 1 orange, segmented and chopped, and grated rind 4 oz dried apricots 2 oz chopped mixed nuts 2 teaspoons ground ginger 2 teaspoons ground coriander 1 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg 4 tablespoons chopped mint and parsley, mixed salt and pepper

This is a very good moment for the new season's lamb. Ask your butcher to prepare the crown for you, unless you are able to do it yourself, which would probably make it a bit cheaper. In a large bowl mix together all the stuffing ingredients. Place the crown roast on a piece of foil and fill with the stuffing. Weigh the stuffed joint, and calcu- late the cooking time at 30 Minutes per pound plus another 15 to 30 minutes according to taste. I reckon about 174 hours will do.

Now place the roast on its foil, on a rack in a roasting tin, protecting the tips of the bones with small caps of foil. Place in a pre- heated oven at Gas 5, 190 C, 375F, cover- ing the stuffing with foil when browned. Allow to stand and rest for 10 minutes before carving, during which time you can place those dinky little paper frills on each cutlet. Place this noble roast on a fine `That'll do nicely, er . . Mrs Bear!' warmed charger and surround with mouth- watering little spring vegetables — carrots, tiny turnips, peas and new potatoes. Much better than dragon.

Or what about good old boiled mutton or lamb with caper sauce? The flavour is bet- ter with mutton; it is difficult to find, but halal butchers always have it, nicely


Boiled leg of mutton or lamb

I trimmed leg of mutton or Iamb 3 large carrots, quartered 3 onions, unpeeled 2 parsnips, peeled and quartered 1 turnip, peeled and quartered


3 lbs young turnips, peeled and sliced 1 level tablespoon plain flour 1 oz butter '/4 pint double cream nutmeg, pepper and salt

Put the meat into a large saucepan or casserole with the first lot of vegetables, salt and pepper. Cover with tepid water. Bring to the boil, skim thoroughly, cover and turn down the heat so that the water barely trembles and cook for 2'/2 hours. Remove the leg to a charger and put a ruf- fle round the bone end. Have the young turnips at the ready. You have cooked them in salted water, drained them and put them through a sieve or Mouli. Whisk in the butter. Mix the flour and the cream smoothly together — no lumps — and add to the turnips. Heat gently until the purée thickens; season with salt, pepper and the nutmeg. Put spoonfuls around the joint. Cut the carrots from the saucepan into strips and place between the turnips. Serve caper sauce separately.

Caper sauce

1 oz butter 1 tablespoon plain flour

3/4 pint of the cooking stock

1 egg yolk 2 tablespoons thick cream 1 heaped tablespoon rinsed capers or more to taste '/2 tablespoon chopped parsley salt and pepper

Melt half the butter, stir in the flour until well mixed, add the heated stock little by little, stirring constantly; simmer for 15 minutes or so until it is smooth and like sin- gle cream. Season with salt and pepper. Whisk in the remaining butter and the egg yolk beaten with the cream. Keep the heat very low to prevent the egg curdling. When it has thickened, add the capers and the parsley at the last moment before serving.

A tip from Jane Grigson is to cool the meat in its liquor until the next day, when it is even more delicious. Serve cold with a plain salad and a bottle of claret. Just what I like.

Jennifer Paterson