Pan-fried lamb cutlets with Gruyere from 'Sumptuous'

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Today we’re testing a recipe from Cape Town foodie Marlene van der Westhuizen’s new cookbook, which continues the fabulous journey that began in ‘Delectable’ and genuinely  lives up to its title of ‘Sumptuous’! Specialising in ‘brasserie luxe’, Marlene is a chef and food writer who divides her time between two kitchens – one in Charoux, France; the other in Green Point, Cape Town.  The pictures in her new book are every bit as sumptuous as the recipes and were taken by celebrated South African photographer Gerda Genis. We bought our copy of ‘Sumptuous’ at Exclusive Books for R304. It is published by Rollerbird Press.

Picture: Salvelio Meyer

Picture: Salvelio Meyer

Pan-fried lamb cutlets with Gruyere

We chose to test this recipe as frying is a popular method of preparing lamb cutlets in countries like Portugal and Spain, and it definitely rings the changes if you’ve only ever braaied your chops. In her introduction to the recipe Marlene suggests this recipe is perfect for newly-wed girls who want to impress their new mothers-in-law at dinner without having to stress out about anything going wrong – apparently it worked for her!

Serves 4

Ingredients

50g butter; 8 lamb cutlets, trimmed; 1 onion, chopped; 1 tbsp flour; 2ooml dry white wine; 2t smooth mustard; 100ml lamb stock; 125g Gruyere (or mature cheddar), grated; 1 small gherkin, finely chopped; sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Method

Melt the butter and fry the cutlets in a warm pan on the stove until the fat is crispy. Do not overcook the meat. Medium-rare to medium is fine. Remove the meat from the pan and keep warm. Fry the onion in the pan juices until soft.

Mix the flour into some of the wine and add to the pan with the rest of the wine, mustard and the stock. Stir until the sauce has thickened. Allow to simmer a little before adding the grated cheese and gherkin. Stir until the cheese has melted. Taste and season. Spoon the sauce over the cutlets and serve.

The Global Table verdict

Marlene says at the end of the recipe that “you’ll never want lamb cutlets cooked in any other way” and  in terms of the meat Salvelio and I can happily agree. Frying definitely was a great option as the cutlets were full of flavour, still juicy but cooked through, and extremely tender. We had in the past fried ours in olive oil but butter could well be a better bet, obviously as long as it is the real thing. You then don’t need to really salt the cutlets before frying as butter does contain quite a bit of salt.

As far as the sauce is concerned, however, we were slightly disappointed, as we both felt it overpowered the lamb somewhat. We could imagine greater success if a sauce of this nature was served with, say, a juicy, well-matured steak, and we will certainly try that out in future.  We both felt the sauce was a little on the acidic side and couldn’t figure out if it was because of the gherkin, the mustard or possibly the wine or cheese, or maybe a combination of all these ingredients.

We followed the recipe to the letter except for the lamb stock, as we couldn’t find any of good quality and didn’t want to opt for those additive-laden mutton stock cubes sold in the shops. Instead we mixed a teaspoon (or less) of Ina Paarman’s instant beef stock granules into some boiling water, which seemed a reasonable substitute.

The other recipes in ‘Sumptuous’ look magnificent and we can’t wait to try out more of them. A friend  has already made the aubergine caviar on Page 54. She said loved this more-ish starter and would definitely make it again.

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