O Sauce, Where Is Thy Sting?
Here’s a recipe which I've known of for seven years… since getting a copy of Diana Henry’s ‘The Gastropub Cookbook: ANOTHER HELPING’
If you don’t have the book you can find a recipe including the sauce accompaniment here.
I’ve referenced mint sauce before but never until now used this version. A trip to The Pipe and Glass Inn on Mrs. Cheoff’s very recent birthday provided the oomph to get back to my kitchen and reproduce at least one of the elements of the rather lovely meal we enjoyed there.
My main choice at the Inn was lamb rump with a mutton belly fritter. It demanded a certain sauce and the chef did not disappoint. Mint made its appearance but brought along its very welcome mates... some young nettles!
Please don’t be put off by the thought of a little foraging. This will take you into the fresh air for a few minutes (at least it forced me to go further than the herb pots outside our kitchen door)
I reckon you should find nettles pretty close by. A clump away from a busy road and traffic fumes would be ideal.
After tearing off the leaves with gloved hands I put them in boiling water for a minute. This blanches them and takes away any trace of ‘sting’.
Plunge these soggy greens into cold water and then drain them. An excess of water will remain so a salad spinner or a good hand squeeze will drive off more. Don’t despair on watching the bright liquid disappearing down the sink - there is still plenty of green left!
The nettle leaves join the roughly chopped mint, olive oil and wine vinegar. Pulse in a blender until you get a smooth mix.
You now have a delightful addition to almost any lamb dish. The vibrant emerald green seduces the eye and the flavours should make you wonder why you haven’t made this before. Mint impresses as usual but then the nettles underscore everything with a clean and deeper hint of grass and hedgerow.
I’m sure the science would explain this with reference to photosynthesis and chlorophyll but I prefer to lean towards the more fundamental senses of sight, smell and taste. This sauce asks for no understanding - it just pleases all those senses in abundance.
Please don’t wait as long as I did before you make your own.
You should know that there will be more here about our meal at 'The Pipe and Glass' pretty soon.