Well, I did warn you I’d bought an awful lot of mutton and hoggett. But this recipe works just as well for lamb chops and if you like a bit of spice in your life, I think you’ll enjoy it.
It’s a variation on a devilled chop and doesn’t really involve gunpowder, although my husband tells me he did actually try that as a seasoning once when he was camping out with a bunch of historical re-enactors. But that’s another story.
We ate it with butter bean mash and a sweet, sharp and aromatic pickle made from this quick beetroot pickle, combined with apple batons and some thinly sliced red onion. A very fine combination, if I say so myself. If you make it, use sweet, crisp eating apples, peel them (and the onion, of course) and let the mixture sit for an hour or so for the flavours and colours to meld.
For the butter bean mash, just fry a finely chopped white onion and a clove of garlic in a little oil and butter until soft and golden, whizz up them up with their buttery juices and two drained tins of butter beans until smooth, and stir in the zest and juice of a lemon and a big handful of chopped parsley. Season to taste with salt and freshly ground pepper and re-heat gently. This works with so many dishes and if you’re pushed for time it’s a boon.
Gunpowder Mutton Chops
4 mutton chops
1/2 tspn chilli flakes
1/2 tspn ground cumin
1 tspn ground coriander
1 tspn cayenne pepper
2 cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed
1 heaped tspn fresh ginger, peeled and grated
1 tbsp mustard oil (optional – use a heaped tspn made English mustard if you don’t have it)
1 tbsp Aspall’s Cyder Vinegar with Honey (or 1 tbsp cider vinegar and 1 tspn runny honey)
1 tbsp extra-virgin rapeseed oil
Mix all the ingredients apart from the chops in a bowl. Trim the cutlets of excess fat and rub the paste onto both sides. Cover and set aside overnight or for at least an hour.
Put a frying pan on a high heat and when it’s very hot add a tablespoon of rapeseed oil (it has a high burning point so is better than olive oil here). It’s important with mutton to cook it either very fast on a high heat or very low and slow. In this case the chops should be cooked like a rare steak, so the outside rapidly develops a crust but the inside remains rare. Over-cook them and they will be like boot leather.
So once the oil is smoking, put the chops in the pan and cook for about a minute or two per side, no more. Make sure you cook any fat left on the cutlets, too, so stand them on their sides in the pan for a minute to crisp it up. If you are cooking thicker lamb chops, you will obviously need to cook them longer.
Once done, whip them out, put them on a warmed plate and let them rest for at least five minutes before serving. They will continue to cook a little more in the residual heat.