The aniseed flavour of fennel and the sweetness of rosemary work really well with lamb cutlets, but you could also use this marinade for a whole leg of roast lamb. Sweet, roasted nectarines are a great companion to any lamb dish. I coat my nectarines (or peaches) with apple syrup, but you could use a good-quality maple syrup instead. These nectarines could also be served as a dessert with mascarpone or softly whipped cream.
For the lamb
1 tsp fennel seeds
½ sprig of rosemary, finely chopped, plus extra to serve
30ml olive oil
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
4 thick lamb cutlets (100g each)
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
For the nectarines
100ml High Bank Orchard syrup or good-quality maple syrup
2 nectarines, halved and stoned
For the salad
1 baby cos lettuce, leaves torn
50g mixed green leaves
leaves from 1 sprig of flat-leaf parsley
leaves from 1 sprig of lemon thyme
4 basil leaves, torn
30ml extra virgin olive oil
10ml balsamic vinegar
½ tsp Dijon mustard
1 Preheat oven to 180°C/gas mark 4.
2 Dry-roast fennel seeds for 30 seconds in a frying pan over a medium heat, tossing every 5 seconds. Finely chop fennel seeds and rosemary before transferring to a large bowl with the oil and vinegar. Season with salt and pepper and mix well.
3 Add lamb cutlets to the bowl. Toss to coat – I do this with clean hands, so that I can rub the marinade into the lamb, which gives a deeper flavour and also tenderises the meat. Leave to marinate for 10 minutes at room temperature.
4 Now prepare the nectarines. Melt butter and syrup in a small saucepan over a low heat and stir. Place nectarines in a bowl and then pour the butter syrup over them to coat. Transfer them to a baking tray and bake in the oven for 15 minutes until soft, basting every 5 minutes.
5 Heat a large chargrill pan over medium-high heat. Grill the lamb cutlets, turning once, until charred and cooked through – 8-10 minutes. Set aside to rest for 5 minutes. Just before serving, scatter with extra rosemary.
6 For the herb salad, combine salad greens and herbs in a large bowl. Whisk the oil, vinegar and mustard in a small bowl to combine. Season to taste, drizzle over salad and toss to coat. Serve with the lamb and sweet nectarines.
Extracted from Clodagh’s Irish Kitchen by Clodagh McKenna (Kyle Books, €25, out now). Photographs by Tara Fisher.