Our favourite piece of cooking equipment – the Weber Q – has been through what George Harrison long ago described as “a long, cold, lonely winter”. Late last week, the sun shone warmly for a day, giving us the opportunity to barbecue some meat. Beef, chicken, prawns, garfish and pork were already on the menu for the following days, so we opted for lamb backstraps, an ingredient which, for no particular reason, we hadn’t used for a few years.
This cut of lamb – which might go by other names around the world – is relatively lean, so you have to be careful to avoid making it tough and dry by overcooking it. On the other hand, it is succulent and tender when it is cooked expertly; it is easy to add flavours to the raw meat; and you can cut it up in different ways. Small wonder that it is a preferred cut for making lamb kebabs!
We prepared a simple marinade – some crushed garlic, chopped fresh marjoram, olive oil, ground black pepper and the chopped flesh of a 1/4 piece of preserved lemon. Two hours later, we heated the Weber to a high heat and cooked the pieces of lamb for 5 minutes on one side then three on the other; the meat was then rested before being sliced to serve. (Next time, I would cook the lamb for one less minute on the first side.)
Grilled lamb goes really well with Turkish bread. Maggie cut about half a loaf into pieces and smothered them in a thin paste of olive oil, salt, pepper and crushed garlic, which she had left to steep for about an hour. She placed the pieces of bread on a piece of foil with upturned edges sitting on a baking tray and placed the tray on the top shelf of the oven, heated to 175C. After a few minutes, when the bread had begun to crisp up and turn a deep, golden brown, she removed the tray and transferred the bread to a serving dish. A platter of sliced, ripe tomatoes and fresh leaves from our garden was all we needed for a tasty and satisfying meal.
We plan to barbecue some more lamb backstraps as soon as possible. Next time, we might try the spicy marinade used when making lamb shawarma.