Fabulous flavours from a shoebox: Kentish lamb neck fillet with a vegetable stew and minted croutons | cottages4you’s new ‘Shoebox recipe’ challenge
Cottages4you, The UK’s largest self-catering holiday specialist, has joined forces with some of the UK’s favourite gastro pubs and restaurants to create a collection of simple recipes to inspire holidaymakers enjoying a self-catering stay. They hope that the partnership with local eateries will inspire customers when cooking at their ‘holiday home’.
Cottages4you asked four gastronomic geniuses to create recipes using just five ingredients as a base plus one locally sourced regional speciality and seasonings, showing how versatile just a few basics can be. These five staple ingredients were potatoes, tinned tomatoes, onions, peppers and bread – all storable in something the size of a shoebox. The well-respected restaurants taking part in the initiative include The Bull & Swan in Burghley Lincolnshire, The Old School Bar and Kitchen in Mount Hawke, Cornwall, The Black Swan in Helmsley, Yorkshire and The Sosban restaurant in Llanelli, Wales.
So when we were asked to join in with the challenge I really wanted to use one of my favourite local meats – salt marsh lamb. It comes into season around June or July and is available throughout summer and autumn. Until recently the meat was rarely sold as salt marsh lamb, and was instead lumped in with regular lamb. But thanks to farmers’ markets as well as support from chefs like Gordon Ramsay and Nigel Haworth, salt marsh lamb is starting to become popular. The lamb isn’t salty it’s the opposite, a sweeter, denser meat, plus when cooked you don’t get that fatty smell that ‘normal’ lamb has. Unfortunately due to time constraints we were unable to get our hands on any, instead we popped to our last remaining local butcher Dennis of Bexley for some middle neck lamb fillet.
Kentish lamb neck fillet with a vegetable stew and minted croutons. (Serves 2)
Locally sourced regional speciality:
Middle neck fillet of lamb
The five staple ingredients:
Small bag of new potatoes
1 tin of chopped tomatoes
2 small onions
1 yellow pepper
4 slices of seeded whole meal bread
Store cupboard basics:
Salt and pepper
2 cloves of garlic
A couple of sprigs of thyme
A handful of fresh Mint leaves
1) Roll the lamb neck in oil, season with salt and pepper and brown in a hot pan (don’t forget to do the sides) to seal and colour the meat. Keep the pan with the lamb fat/juices to one side – this will be used to cook the croutons. Put the lamb in a 180ºc preheated oven for 15 minutes.
2) Chop the new potatoes into rough chunks and blanch in salted water for ten minutes. Roughly chop the onions and yellow pepper. In a large pan or wok, sweat down the onion until soft, add the tinned tomatoes, chopped pepper and potatoes. Finely grate the garlic clove and add the thyme leaves and season to taste. Warm through and simmer on a low heat until ready to serve.
3) Cut the bread into 1cm squares, keep any seeds that fall from the crusts. Finely chop the fresh mint leaves, keep a teaspoon or two to one side. Very gently mix the bread cubes, chopped mint and seeds. Gently fry this in the lamb fat/juices, adding a little oil if needed, until golden brown and crispy.
4) Mix the remaining chopped mint leaves with some oil and salt and pepper. Once the lamb has been in the oven for 15 minutes remove and brush the top with the mint and oil mixture. Pop it back in the oven for three minutes.
5) Remove the lamb from the oven and put it to one side to rest. Plate up the vegetable stew, carve the lamb and scatter the mint croutons on top.
Here’s a few words from Nick Rudge, Managing Director of cottages4you: “Cooking on holiday with the family can be great fun and doesn’t need to cost a fortune – which these recipes prove! We’re thrilled to be working with local restaurants to bring our customers regional delicacies that can be made on a self-catering holiday.
“For a truly unique ‘local’ holiday experience we always encourage our customers to visit local eateries, as well as using local produce from surrounding businesses. Whether eating in or out, these can often be the aspects that truly enhance our experiences and turn a good holiday into a great one.”
For holidaymakers looking to make the most of the recipes the full collection can be found here.