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Summer Lamb with Fennel and Roasted Nectarines

Summer Lamb with Fennel and Roasted Nectarines

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and line a baking sheet with aluminum foil.

In a skillet, dry-roast the fennel seeds over medium heat for 30 seconds, and then finely chop. Place the chopped seeds in a large bowl, along with the rosemary, olive oil, and red wine vinegar. Season to taste with sea salt and black pepper.

Add the lamb cutlets to the bowl and toss to coat, then let marinate at room temperature for 10 minutes.

In a small saucepan, melt the butter and syrup together over low heat and stir. Place the nectarines on the foil-lined sheet and drizzle with the syrup mixture. Bake in the oven for 15 minutes, or until tender.

Heat a large grill pan over medium–high heat. Grill the lamb cutlets, turning once, until charred and cooked through, 8 to 10 minutes. Set aside to rest for 5 minutes. Just before serving, scatter with extra rosemary.

In a large bowl, combine the salad greens. In a small bowl, beat together the extra virgin olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and mustard to combine. Season to taste with sea salt and black pepper, drizzle over the salad, and then toss to coat. Serve with the lamb and sweet nectarines.

  • 1kg lamb neck fillet or shoulder
  • 1 tbsp flour
  • 1 tbsp fennel seeds, ground
  • pinch of ground saffron
  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • ½–1 tsp chilli flakes
  • 2 pieces of pared orange zest
  • 300ml white wine
  • up to 300ml lamb stock
  • 2 large tomatoes, peeled and diced
  • bouquet garni (2 bay leaves, a sprig of parsley, a sprig of rosemary)
  • 2 fennel bulbs
  • squeeze of lemon juice (optional)
  • small bunch of parsley, finely chopped
  • small bunch of basil, shredded
  • salt and black pepper

Cut the lamb into 6cm chunks and put it in a bowl. Season it with salt and pepper. Sprinkle over the flour, fennel seeds and saffron and turn the lamb to make sure all the pieces are coated. Heat a tablespoon of the oil in a large flameproof casserole dish. Sear the lamb on all sides, making sure you get a good, deep brown crust all over. Do this in a few batches – if you crowd the pan too much the lamb won’t brown properly. Set each batch aside as it is browned.

Add a little more of the oil to the casserole dish if necessary, turn down the heat and fry the onion until it’s soft and translucent. Add the garlic and cook for a further minute or so, then add the chilli flakes and pared zest. Turn up the heat, pour in the wine and stir, scraping up any brown bits from the base of the pan.

Put the lamb back in the casserole dish, then pour in enough of the stock to just cover the lamb. Add the tomatoes and the bouquet garni. Bring to the boil, then turn down the heat to a low simmer. Put a lid on the dish and cook for an hour.

Meanwhile, prepare the fennel. Trim the top, cutting off any fronds and saving them for later. Trim as little as possible from the base of the fennel, then cut the bulb in half, lengthways. Cut each half into 3 wedges, also lengthways. These should hold together, although the outer layers may come away from the root. Heat the remaining olive oil in a large frying pan, then sear the pieces of fennel until they have caramelised round the edges. Set aside.

When the lamb has cooked for an hour, add the fennel. Continue to cook, uncovered, for a further 20 minutes, until the fennel is very tender and the liquid has reduced down a little. Taste for seasoning, and add more salt, pepper and a squeeze of lemon juice if necessary.

Remove the lemon zest and the bouquet garni. Stir in the parsley and basil and leave the dish to stand off the heat for a couple of minutes. Finely chop any reserved fennel fronds and sprinkle them over the casserole. Serve in large, shallow bowls.


  • 1 (5-lb.) bone-in leg of lamb, shank bone exposed
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 10 cloves garlic, peeled and halved crosswise
  • 1 ⁄3 cup rosemary leaves
  • 6 small, firm, tart apples, such as Fuji, Gala, or Granny Smith, left whole and cored with an apple corer
  • 1 small yellow onion, quartered
  • 1 medium bulb fennel, trimmed and cut into 3/4″ wedges
  • 1 cup red currant jelly, plus more for serving
  • 1 cup apple juice
  • 1 ⁄2 cup pomegranate molasses
  • Zest and juice of 1 lemon
  • Mint leaves, to garnish (optional)

Mediterranean Rotisserie Leg of Lamb with Potatoes, Fennel, and Olives

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This boneless leg of lamb gets a double punch of flavor from garlic and lemon rubbed inside of it, and paprika, cumin, and coriander rubbed on the outside. The whole roast is cooked on a rotisserie spit until crispy and browned on the outside and juicy on the inside. To make a meal, simply put a tray of potatoes, onion, fennel, and olives underneath the meat while it rotates on the spit so that its drippings don’t go to waste, instead flavoring an easy side dish that cooks at the same time.

Special equipment: This recipe was tested on an outdoor gas grill with a rotisserie attachment it was not tested on an indoor rotisserie appliance.

You’ll need butcher’s twine to make this dish.

Tips for Lamb and Christmas


  1. 1 Combine the garlic, zest, oil, and 2 teaspoons of the salt in a small bowl and set aside. Combine the remaining 2 teaspoons of salt, paprika, coriander, and cumin in a separate small bowl and set aside.
  2. 2 Have 7 or 8 (20-inch) lengths of butcher’s twine ready. Remove and discard any mesh netting or string around the lamb. Unroll the lamb and lay it flat and fat-side down on a work surface. Using your hands, rub all of the lemon-garlic mixture evenly over the surface of the lamb and season with pepper. Roll the lamb back into a tight cylinder and tie it crosswise with the twine pieces, spacing them about 1 1/2 inches apart. Trim off any excess twine. Using your hands, rub all of the spice mixture evenly over the outside of the lamb set aside.

To cook the lamb and vegetables:

  1. 1 Remove the rotisserie center rod (spit) and fork prongs from an outdoor gas grill with a rotisserie attachment. Turn on the rotisserie burner, turn on the left and right grill burners to medium (leave the middle burner off), and let the grill heat to medium (about 350°F to 450°F). Meanwhile, load the lamb onto the spit and prepare the vegetables.
  2. 2 Slide 1 pronged fork onto the spit with the tines facing inward, setting it about 10 inches from the end of the spit, and tighten the fork halfway. Slide the spit through the center of the lamb lengthwise and push the lamb onto the fork tines until it’s firmly embedded. Attach the other pronged fork with the tines facing inward and slide it down until it’s firmly embedded in the lamb. If necessary, adjust the forks and lamb so that they are centered on the spit. Tighten both forks into place set aside.
  3. 3 Line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil. Cut the potatoes in half and place them on the baking sheet. Add the fennel and onion, drizzle with the oil, add the measured salt, and season with pepper toss with your hands to combine. Turn all of the potato pieces cut-side down. Sprinkle in the olives set aside.
  4. 4 When the grill is ready, load the pointed end of the spit onto the rotisserie motor. Place the sheet of vegetables directly on the grill grates underneath the lamb. Turn on the rotisserie motor, cover the grill, and cook, stirring the vegetables every 30 minutes, until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the center of the lamb registers 135°F to 140°F, about 1 to 1 1/2 hours.
  5. 5 Turn off the rotisserie motor, rotisserie burner, and grill burners. Using potholders or kitchen towels, carefully remove the spit to a cutting board and loosen the forks. Remove the lamb from the spit and remove the forks. Tent the lamb loosely with aluminum foil and let it rest for at least 10 minutes. Remove the tray of vegetables from the grill and cover with aluminum foil.
  6. 6 Cut and discard the twine from the lamb. Cut the meat crosswise into 1/2-inch-thick slices and serve with the vegetables.

Clodagh McKenna’s Summer Lamb with Fennel and Roasted Nectarines

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

? sprig of rosemary, finely chopped, plus extra to serve

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

leaves from 1 sprig of flat-leaf parsley

leaves from 1 sprig of lemon thyme

30ml extra virgin olive oil

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.


  1. For seasoned butter:
    1. Mix all ingredients with fork in medium bowl. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and refrigerate. Bring to room temperature before using.)
    1. Position rack in bottom third of oven and preheat to 450°F. Pour 2 tablespoons oil into large roasting pan. Place pan directly atop 2 burners over medium-high heat. Sprinkle lamb with salt and pepper. Add lamb to pan and brown on all sides, about 8 minutes total. Remove pan from heat. Brush lamb with half of seasoned butter.
    2. Roast lamb 30 minutes. Reduce heat to 350°F continue roasting until thermometer inserted into thickest part of meat registers 130°F for medium-rare, about 40 minutes longer. Transfer to platter tent with foil. Let stand 20 minutes.
    3. Skim off fat from drippings in roasting pan. Place pan atop 2 burners over high heat. Add wine and broth. Boil until mixture is reduced to 2 cups, about 13 minutes. Whisk in remaining seasoned butter (sauce will be thin). Season sauce to taste with salt and pepper.
    4. Garnish lamb with rosemary sprigs, if desired. Serve with sauce.

    Apricot and rosewater ice-cream

    Apricot and rosewater ice-cream. Photograph: Jonathan Lovekin/The Observer

    Sometimes, on a hot summer’s afternoon, I will simmer apricots with a little honey and water till the fruit has softened and the honey has turned to a light syrup. I add a few drops of rosewater, then chill them till the syrup is almost ice cold, and eat them the next day for breakfast. This heady mixture, with its faintly Middle Eastern notes, also makes an excellent ice-cream, delicate and beautiful. An ice-cream the colour of sunset at midsummer.

    I like the soft consistency of an ice-cream made in a commercial machine, but it is easy enough to make without one. Transfer the fruit and custard mixture to a freezer box, cover tightly, and freeze for an hour or two, until ice crystals have formed around the edge. Remove briefly from the freezer, whisk the crystals into the liquid centre, cover and return to the freezer. Leave for a further hour, then repeat the whisking. This will ensure a softer, creamier texture. Continue until almost frozen.

    Enough for 4
    apricots 500g
    honey 4 tbsp

    For the custard
    double cream 400ml
    egg yolks 4
    caster sugar 90g
    rosewater 1 tsp

    Set the oven at 180C fan/gas mark 6. Halve the apricots, discarding the stones, and place the fruit in a roasting tin. Trickle the honey over the apricots then bake for about 25 minutes until the honey and juices are bubbling and the fruit is meltingly soft and fragrant. Remove the tin from the oven and roughly crush the fruit with a fork. Spoon into a bowl and set aside to cool.

    Warm the cream in a small pan, bringing it almost to the boil. Beat the egg yolks and sugar till thick (I use an electric whisk but a wooden spoon could suffice), then pour the warm cream over, stirring thoroughly. Rinse and dry the milk pan, return the custard to the pan and place over a low to moderate heat.

    Stir the custard with a wooden spoon, almost constantly, until it thickens to the consistency of double cream. Stir in the rosewater. Remove from the heat immediately and cool quickly. (I like to pour the custard into a clean bowl set over a second bowl of ice and stir till the steam no longer rises.) When the custard is cold, stir into the apricot and honey mixture, taste and add a little more rosewater if you wish, then pour into an ice-cream maker and churn till softly frozen.

    The Observer aims to publish recipes for sustainable fish. For ratings in your region, check: UK Australia US

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    What goes with fennel

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    Think warm, Mediterranean flavours when cooking with fennel - like tomatoes, red onion and peppers. Even try experimenting by using fennel in a sweet context, harnessing roasted caramel-sweetness, or raw lemony freshness as Adam Simmonds does with this fennel granita.

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