Food: Chefs on the best way to cook lamb this spring
From crispy shoulder cuts to slow-cooked stews, this is what the professionals recommend.
Spring has finally sprung, and as the days start to get longer, it's time to think about how to switch up your cooking to suit the new season.
For meat-eaters, the glut of tender lamb available is one of the best things about this time of year.
Looking for inspiration on how to cook lamb this spring? This is what the professionals recommend...
Andi Oliver's go-to way to cook lamb is inspired by a trip to Morocco.
"Lamb is one of my favourite cuts of meat," says the author of The Pepperpot Diaries: Stories From My Caribbean Table (DK, £27, available April 27).
"I learned a beautiful way of cooking lamb when I was in Morocco, which is a technique where I poach it first in a whole bunch of really incredible spices. Anything you like - cumin seeds, coriander seeds, peppercorns, star anise, whatever you fancy.
"Then when the lamb is tender, you take it out - either shoulder or leg - take it out, and add half the volume in very thinly sliced onions to the cooking liquor. Take the poached shoulder and baste it with olive oil and melted butter and put it in a very high oven - get it really crispy on the outside.
"So you reduce the onion and the poaching liquor, then pour that back over the crispy lamb shoulder or leg."
"Spring is one of my favourite seasons of the year, and I love creating delicious lamb-based dishes, incorporating seasonal fruit and vegetables to my colourful plates," says Ioannis Grammenos, meatologist and executive chef at Heliot Steak House.
If you really want to go all-out this year, why not try cooking the lamb whole?
"One of my all-time favourite ways to have lamb for spring is as a whole spit roast, cooked with just salt and pepper on charcoal for around six to seven hours until crispy," says Grammenos. "This method ensures the lamb is crispy on the outside, but still full of flavour and moist on the inside."
Grammenos uses Lumina lamb from New Zealand, and if cooking the animal whole is too much of an undertaking, he also enjoys lamb chops "marinated with fresh oregano and served with tzatziki".
Alternatively, Grammenos recommends slow-cooked lamb shoulder rubbed with a mix of garlic and rosemary, or lamb meatballs mixed with fresh mint and black garlic with yoghurt raita.
Anisa Karolia, author of The Ramadan Cookbook (Ebury Press, £22), recommends cooking up nihari this spring - an Indian stew cooked with lamb or beef.
She says it's a "quite soupy" dish, "that's really nicely cooked in a slow cooker" - but if you don't have a slow cooker, you can cook it on a low heat on the stove for a few hours.
"You've got lots of aromatic flavours in there, and it's really delicious," says Karolia. It's often made with a specific nihari spice blend, featuring bay leaves, cinnamon, cardamom, fennel, coriander, cumin and more.
With spring flavours
"My daughter loves lamb - last night I cooked lamb chops for her, because that's what she asked for," says Su Scott, author of Rice Table (Quadrille, £27, available March 30).
"I like to cook it really, really simply - we love making lamb cutlets. Just really simple: salt and pepper, grill [it] really beautifully to medium rare, with the fat nicely caramelised."
To add freshness to her lamb dish, Scott uses spring flavours. "I baste it with a nice, zingy mint and orange zest dressing on top to lift it," she says.