Agneau aux Prunes et au Romarin

Lamb with Plums and Rosemary

The fruit that links the Ardèche kitchen I use and the one at home in Devon is the plum. In July Mme Marquet brings us a bowl of her red cherry plums every few days and here in our Devon village, which is named after a plum tree, we depend upon a large spreading tree planted fifty years ago in a field called Dippy Orchard. About the middle of August it produces far more plums than we can deal with. Neighbours and friends have baskets of large purple plums pressed into their hands and I devise endless ways of cooking with them. This dish is one of them.

Ingredients

  • 4 lamb cutlets, trimmed free of fat
  • a little butter or oil
  • salt, milled pepper
  • 1 wineglass red wine des Côteaux de l’Ardèche
  • a sprig of fresh rosemary
  • 12 dark plums, quartered
  • small knob of butter
  • a few sprigs of rosemary for a garnish

Method

Lightly brown the lamb cutlets in the butter or oil in a heavy cast-iron pan. Season the meat with salt and pepper and pour in the wine. Bring to the boil and place the rosemary over the meat. Cover with a buttered paper and a lid and cook in a moderate oven (Mark 5, 190°C, 375°F) for about 25 minutes.

Remove the lid and butter paper and discard the rosemary, which should have impregnated the meat with its flavour. Cover each cutlet with the quartered plums and place back in the oven for 10–15 minutes until everything is cooked.

Transfer the lamb and the plums to a hot serving dish and pour off any surplus fat. Add half a glass of water to the pan and scrape to incorporate all the pan juices. Simmer for a few minutes, add the knob of butter in small pieces and remove from the heat. Shake the pan to combine the sauce, then spoon a little around the meat, garnish with the fresh rosemary and serve with pommes de terre fondantes or boiled new potatoes.

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