Fricassée of Spring Lamb with Green Peas and Egg and Lemon Sauce

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Preparation info

  • Difficulty

    Medium

  • Serves

    6

Appears in

Floyd Around the Med

Floyd Around the Med

By Keith Floyd

Published 2000

  • About

Egg and lemon sauce, known as avgolemono, is served with vegetables, meat, chicken and fish throughout Greece. Since this is a spring dish it is essential that the lamb is young and fresh, not frozen. Throughout the Mediterranean, this fricassée would be prepared with milk-fed lamb at best and, at worst, meat from a very, very young sheep.

Ingredients

  • about 1.5-2 kg/3¼-4½ lb leg of spring lamb (you might have to buy legs)
  • 175 g/6 oz unsalted butter
  • 500 g/1 lb 2 oz baby leeks (the thickness of your average fountain pen), the white and green parts cut into 4cm/1½ inch batons
  • ½ hearty, dark-green Cos (romaine) lettuce, ripped into rough pieces
  • 1.5 kg/ lb small frozen peas (yes, frozen, because unless you have access to the tenderest of fresh garden peas, this dish will be ruined by those tough old things the size of golf balls, so-called fresh garden peas from the average greengrocer; also, frozen peas contain their own moisture)
  • 1 bunch of fresh dill or coriander, or parsley or even chives, chopped sea salt and black pepper

For the Sauce

  • 1 heaped tbsp butter
  • 1 tbsp plain flour
  • juice of 5 or 6 lemons (possibly less if you are making this on holiday where lemons grow; possibly more if you are using the slightly less juicy ones at home)
  • 2 eggs and
  • 4 egg yolks

Method

Cut the lamb off the bone into nice bite-sized pieces. Melt half the butter in a cast-iron, copper or other heavy-based wide casserole and fry the lamb pieces until they are browned on all sides. Because it is spring lamb it will not take very long to cook, so just brown it lightly. Then stir in the leeks and cook for a few minutes to soften them a little. Throw in the roughly torn up lettuce, then the frozen (yes, still frozen) peas and fresh herbs. Add one or two cups of water and the remaining butter, then season with salt and pepper. Stir the whole lot round so everything is combined, put the lid on and simmer gently for about 30-45 minutes. Inspect and taste the dish from time to time to make sure that the peas are defrosting, the lamb is cooking and all the juices are amalgamating.

When you think the lamb is almost cooked, strain off about a cupful of the cooking liquid, leaving only a small amount in the pan. Now, in a separate heavy-based pan, make the sauce. Melt the butter, add the flour and whisk well, so that you have a golden, but not burnt, roux. Whisk in the cooking liquid you have taken from the lamb and peas until you have a thick, smooth sauce. Now, over a low heat whisk in some lemon juice until it has almost the consistency of custard. In a jug, lightly whisk together the eggs and egg yolks. With the heat switched off, gradually add the beaten eggs to the sauce, whisking furiously, until you have what does, in fact, look like custard. If the pan is too hot or you whisk too slowly, you will curdle the whole thing, so do be careful.

Put the lamb and peas on to a serving platter and pour over the egg and lemon sauce.