Lamb Cutlets with Chickpea, Caramelised Onion & Smoked Paprika Mash

This was our dish at Easter earlier in the year. I love, love, love lamb and what better time to serve it than at Easter time, when the little lambies are at their frolicky happiest and tastiest? Out of curiosity, I googled the symbolism of lamb and God and Jesus and Christianity and I’m no closer to understanding what “the lamb of God” really means, except that maybe Jesus is likened to an innocent lamb, or that he tastes good with mint sauce. I’m not religious, as you can probably tell, so perhaps I should stop talking.

This recipe has Happy Food Baby written all over it (it also has splodges of oil and little crumbies on it which is what inevitably happens to paper recipes that wind up in my messy kitchen. However, it is the sign of a recipe that has been tried, tested, loved and repeated). Lamb + chickpeas + smoked paprika = some of my favourite things to eat. It turned out that the meal is also entirely gluten free which was absolutely perfect as my lovely friend Danny was our guest and he is extremely sensitive to gluten.

I made this again for The Mammy and Big Brother as there were leg of lamb steaks in the fridge. Not quite the same as cutlets but what are ya gonna do? Please excuse the lack of photos of the dinner itself. The food I photograph is my dinner and there are usually two hungry people banging their knives and forks on the table as I try to pose and style the food. This time, I wanted to be sensitive to their hungry tummies so there wasn’t the time and space in the kitchen to be quite so snap happy. Please enjoy our photos from Easter, when we ate outside on Big Sister’s lawn in DC. I got a bit sunburnt that day. A far cry from the often freezing cold we still get here in April.

This recipe was featured on the BBC’s Saturday Kitchen, when our very own Rachel Allen was a guest chef alongside the show’s tasty presenter/chef, James Martin. It serves 4.

Lamb Cutlets with Chickpea, Caramelised Onion & Smoked Paprika Mash

For the mash
25g/ 1 oz butter
2 tblsp + 4-5 tblsp olive oil (the lesser amount is for caramelizing the onions; the larger amount will go in with the mash)
1 large onion, peeled and finely sliced
2 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
1 tsp + 1 tsp thyme leaves (1 tsp goes in with the onion, the other half will go into the red wine jus, see below)
1/2 tsp smoked paprika (feel free to use more if you like the taste of this bangin’ spice)
2 x 400g tins of chickpeas, drained and rinsed
Juice of 1/2 a lemon
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1. Over a very low heat, melt the butter and olive oil in a large frying pan. Add the onion and cook for 10-15mins, until the onion has softened and begun to turn golden. Beware the heat: there IS a difference between “caramelized” and “burnt”.

2. Stir in the garlic, half the thyme and the smoked paprika (we didn’t have any fresh thyme so I used some fresh sage and rosemary that was in the fridge, a sprinkled in some dried thyme. Well rosemary goes great with lamb so I thought why not?). Cook these guys for another 5 mins.

3. Meanwhile, heat the drained and rinsed chickpeas in boiling water for 2-3mins. Drain them well afterwards.

4. In a food processor, blitz the chickpeas, three-quarters of the caramelized onion concoction (kept the rest to garnish the lamb cutlets), the lemon juice and the larger measure of olive oil. Season to taste. Also, feel free to adjust the mash to your liking: the lemon juice gives a great little kick, just don’t over do it. I added a bit more olive oil than called for to get my mash to my desired consistency. I left it covered in the food processor to keep warm, or you can keep it in a saucepan and reheat just as you’re about to serve.

For the lamb cutlets/leg of lamb steaks
8-12 lamb cutlets (2-3 per person, or 1-2 lamb steaks per person, depending on size)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tblsp olive oil
1 tsp thyme leaves
50ml / 2 fl oz red wine
100ml / 3.5 fl oz chicken stock
1 tblsp balsamic vinegar

1. Season the lamb cutlets and drizzle with olive oil while a saucepan heats up over a high heat. You are going to sear the cutlets/steaks quickly before cooking.

2. Sear the lamb for about a minute each side to sear them, then remove from the pan. You’re going to cook them in batches – don’t overload your pan or you’ll cause the cooking temperature to drop.

3. Now, I like my lamb cutlets medium rare so that’s roughly 2-3 mins each side (2 mins each side for rare, 4-5 mins each side for medium to well-done). If you’re using thicker leg of lamb steaks, increase the cooking time by about a minute each side. In between turning, I use my tongs to sear the sides of the chop if the steak/cutlet is quite thick.

4. Once cooked, remove from the pan and keep warm under some tinfoil, allowing the meat to rest.

5. Now we get to make the gravy! Or should I be a bit more high-brow and call it red wine jus? First off, you must deglaze the pan – the best part about pan-frying meat. Pour the wine directly into the still hot pan and use a spatula to scrape up any crispy bits of meat and fat. Allow the wine to sizzle and reduce for a few minutes then add the stock, vinegar and thyme. Simmer for 3-4 mins until the liquid has reduced and thickened.

6. Serve your delicious lamb, drizzled with jus, in an artsy fartsy way on a bed of chickpea mash, and scatter the leftover caramelized onions on top. Food always tastes better when it looks fancy. Like did you ever notice how sandwiches cut diagonally across into triangles always tasted better than when your mum cut them straight across? I hope you cooked veg as part of your 5-a-day. We had green beans at Easter time and I think we had carrots the second time round. Enjoy!


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