Now cooking with hay may seem a little strange, but for many of you so was the thought of cooking with lavender, and just look at how well that’s turned out! Lavender shortbread, lavender scones, lavender-infused honey glazed chicken, lavender marinated lamb – yum yum yum!
So we thought it was time to take cooking with lavender to the next level, and it is that last wonderful combination of lavender and lamb that is the perfect way to do it. How? Try cooking your lamb in lavender and hay!
Cooking in hay is an age old method that was used to keep the intense heat of the fire away from your meat, ensuring that it cooked slowly and evenly until meltingly tender. The fact that hay was cheap and plentiful and just so happened to impart a wonderful grassy (think a subtle aroma of freshly mown grass clippings) flavour was simply an added bonus! However these days more and more professional chefs are switching back on to the joys of cooking with hay, not only does it stand out on a menu, but it also tastes great! And throw a few lovely sprigs of lavender into the mix and the results are superb.
To make a leg of lamb baked in hay and lavender you’ll need:
- a joint of lamb – either leg or shoulder are particularly good
- a few slivers of garlic
- olive oil
- a good handful of dried lavender springs (or use fresh, but use more!)
- a decent quantity of hay – get this from a pet shop, not from a farmer which is used for animal bedding
- salt and pepper
- Season your lamb and then sear it in olive oil in a hot heavy based casserole dish/roasting tin until browned on all sides, then remove and let it rest for a minute
- Next make 1-2cm slits in your lamb on all sides and drop a sliver of garlic into each one
- Now toss together your hay and lavender and add enough to make a good layer on the bottom of your dish, heat this until it is just beginning to smoke, then add your lamb
- Pack more of the hay/lavender around the lamb and then cover it tightly and roast it in a 190°C oven until your meat is cooked through and falling apart to the press of a finger
- Remove the lamb from the oven and let it rest in the hay for 10 minutes, before removing it from the hay and giving it another 10 mins resting time – this will ensure that your meat is extra super tender
Keep the accompaniments simple, steamed Jersey Royal New Potatoes and some greens are wonderful, and why not add a little Lavender Jelly (instead of mint sauce) on the side?