Tuesday, 18 October 2011

A Brilliant Mint Sauce

So you’ve bought this amazing, incredibly expensive free range, organic piece of lamb. You’ve slow roasted it for hours until it’s just so ridiculously soft and moist that it’s practically falling from the bone. The accompanying roast potatoes are crispy, the vegetables perfect. Your guests are sitting at the table waiting. The expectation is high, but you’re feeling pretty smug. You bring out the lamb joint on a platter, to ‘ooohs’ ‘ahhhhs’ and gasps of appreciation. The beautiful meat enveloped in an invisible wafting cloud of sweet, mouth watering, lambness, silently cloaking your guests in it’s warmth. You carve and serve, savouring this moment. You are amazing. You are ‘The Daddy’…


That’s the sound of your guests, in unison, involuntarily projectile vomiting your beautiful Sunday lamb roast out onto your face, the walls, the table and each other in utter disgust. You look around the table, confused. They’re angry, there’s swearing and pointing, people are getting up and leaving. Your best friend gestures at you angrily as if shaking a handful of coffee beans. You don’t think he wants coffee.

And then slowly, it dawns on you. The awful cheap arse ready-made supermarket mint sauce accompanying your lamb. What a complete and utter fool you’ve been. It all could have been so different if you’d made it yourself.

*Curtain Closes*

Cheer up. I'm going to tell you how to ensure that this sorry, entirely realistic scene never happens to you.

But first, a bit of back-story.
In March this year, I ate at The Sportsman in Seasalter, Kent. Accompanying my lamb cutlet was the best mint sauce I’ve ever tasted. So amazing was it that both ‘E’ and myself sat there, awestruck for a full 5 minutes. Tasting, analyzing and debating just why the hell it tasted so good.

We’ve subsequently served lamb at our ‘Basement’ supper club a few times, and tried to recreate The Sportsman’s mint sauce each time. We think we’ve almost cracked it.
This simple recipe comes in two parts. A base mint sauce, and then a basic stock syrup made using Demerara sugar to sweeten it.

Mint Sauce

Makes 150ml (Easily enough for 6-8 people)

You’ll Need: -

(Base mint sauce)
150ml malt vinegar
Bunch of fresh mint
2 heaped tablespoons Demerara sugar

(Stock syrup)
Equal quantities of Demerara sugar and water, 200ml of each should do it.

(To Finish)
More fresh mint, finely chopped.

For the base mint sauce, there’s no need to pick or chop the mint, put it in a saucepan and pour over the vinegar. Add the sugar and bring to the boil, cook for a few minutes until the sugar has dissolved. Leave to cool. The mint sprig can be left in. This can be kept in a sealed jar, in the fridge pretty much indefinitely.

Make the stock syrup by bringing the sugar and water to the boil for around 2 minutes, until the sugar has dissolved and it becomes syrupy. You can use this straight away or keep in the fridge for up to 2-3 weeks.

To serve, strain a small pot or jug full of the base mint sauce into a small serving jug. Add a good handful of finely chopped mint and stir well. Add a generous amount of stock syrup, stir and taste. Too sharp? Add more and keep on adding small amounts until it’s exactly how you want it. The Demerara stock syrup adds a caramel note that really makes this mint sauce taste superb.

Finally, serve with your lamb and receive the adulation you so richly deserve.


Gus Hoyt said...

As a veggie, I am now hankering after some of that sauce!
Great writing too. Reminds me of an amazing Anerican thanksgiving when they then proudly asked a wee one to "cut the cranberry sauce" for us all.
Yup; a la Simpsons it was a solid sausage out of a tin.

It's the small things in life that perfect it.

Pavel said...

I've never liked mint sauce, we always used to have shitty supermarket stuff at home and at the pub the owner hated the stuff so we bought in great vats of colmans for the Sunday roasts.

Very tempted to try this out though and see if it changes my mind!

Graphic Foodie said...

Bravo! I always eyed mint sauce with suspicion as my introduction to it was just a few years ago at the mother-in-law's who buys that gloopy, sugary sludge from the big T supermarket. Yerk. I'll take round my own pot of this next time :)

Food Urchin said...

In my yoof I used to slaver mint sauce over everthing on a Sunday. Lamb, roast spuds, cauliflower cheese. Consequently, I can't stand the stuff now (my taste buds have matured see) but will definitely try this recipe.

Nancy said...

I had the same experience as you at The Sportsman in July. I'm not a fan of mint sauce, or so I thought. However, my husband and I finished the entire pot. I asked how it was prepared and was told that after many attempts to capture the perfect taste with expensive vinegars, the chef realized that the best one was a brand that he referred to as "cheap as chips". I wasn't familiar with the brand (as a New Yorker) and I don't recall the name. I look forward to my return to The Sportsman for many reasons, including, consuming more of the mint sauce.

Dan said...

Gus Hoyt - Cranberry sauce out of a tin Gus?!! Tres revolto. Totally agree on the 'small things in life' comment!

Pavel - Not surpised dude. The bought in stuff uses dried mint, and basically tastes overwhelmingly of vinegar. If you stick enough stock syrup in, it tastes much more subtle, smooth with the edge knocked off the tang and caramely. So much nicer.

Graphic Foodie - Mint sauce doesn't feature in Italian cuisine non? Mosdef, take some of this round the mother in laws and show her how it's done Fran. Should make relations smoooooooth!!!

Food Urchin - My younger sister was the same with Branston pickle, she slathered it on absolutely everything. Wonder if you'll like this or recoil in horror. Keep me posted mate.

Nancy - Sarsons perhaps? Amazing that the mint sauce is making such an impact. Incredibly, this is pretty damn close to the mint sauce at The Sportsman. It's definitely the Demerara stock syrup that makes the difference.