When I found myself with a cut of lamb known for having an incredibly tender texture (the top round roast–it comes from the upper hind leg), for some reason, steak was on my mind rather than the usual roast. I’d never had lamb steak before, so I thought that this could be a fun change–I’d just give them a quick, buttery pan sear (since its not grilling weather at the moment) and top it off with a simple sauce. Being autumn and all, cranberry seemed like a great thing to focus on sauce-wise–and like pork, lamb with fruit always makes me happy.
The lamb was indeed very tender. The resulting steaks had a crisp, buttery, exterior with a juicy and just-a-little-pink interior (random aside: why aren’t lamb steaks more common?!)–very tasty. The cranberry sauce I made to go with this was very similar in style to one I’ve made for the past few Thanksgivings. Aside from the usual sweet/tart thing you get from cranberry sauce, the mix of sherry, mint, rosemary, and balsamic adds an earthy, nutty, sharp, herby, yet bright dimension to the sauce that just screams autumn without overwhelming the lamb. This was all served over a bed of Israeli cous cous (I prefer it over the regular cous cous for no good reason whatsoever) since lamb and cous cous always go together in my head. The cous cous had a fantastic flavor on its own, and as a place to capture all errant sauce and juices, it was that much better.
A nice thing worth mentioning about this dish: its quick and easy to prepare. The steaks, sauce, and cous cous can all be done in parallel and well under a half hour, so if you’re looking for something fun to do for dinner during the work week, give this one a try.
- 1.5 lb lamb top round roast
- Cranberry Sherry Mint Sauce
- 1 2/3 cups sherry
- 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- big handful mint leaves
- 3-4 sprigs rosemary
- 1/4 tsp pepper
- 12-ounce bag fresh cranberries
- 1/4 cup sugar
- Cous cous
- 1.5 cups Israeli cous cous
- 2.25 cups chicken stock
- pinch of saffron
- 2 shallots
- 6 cloves garlic
- 1 bunch swiss chard
- handful of mint leaves
Admire your lamb roast. Trim any excess fat/bone if necessary. Cut it into individual steaks (whatever thickness floats your boat). Season with salt and pepper all over.
Start the cranberry sauce by mixing the sherry, balsamic, brown sugar, finely diced mint, rosemary, and pepper in a saucepan. Bring to boil and stir until the sugar dissolves. Drop the heat to a simmer for 10 minutes, after which, you should discard the rosemary and mix in the cranberries and sugar. Continue to cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally until the berries burst and the liquid reduces some, roughly 5-10 minutes. Set the sauce aside, off heat.
Heat up a large sauté pan over medium high heat and melt some butter. Add the lamb steaks to the pan, taking care not to crowd (work in batches if necessary). Brown for 3-4 minutes per side (depends on thickness) and remove them from heat.
Some time during all of this, you should prepare the cous cous. In a saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat and then add the dry pasta for about 3 minutes. Stir occasionally to give a good, uniform, golden color. Add the stock and saffron, raise to a boil, and then drop the heat to a gentle boil, covering the pot and continuing to cook for about 12-15 minutes.
In a separate pan, sauté the diced shallot, swiss chard (leaves and stems!) for 6 minutes, add the minced garlic for a minute more, and then add this along with the finely diced mint into the cooked cous cous. Give things a good stir and season to taste.
Finally, add a mound of cous cous to each plate, place a lamb steak on top, and add a good scoop of cranberry sauce. Enjoy!