If you’re eating the seasons then Lamb is an absolute must in April, even more so than the Easter eggs! But why do people in mint with lamb?
No one quite knows the exact point at which mint became associated with lamb but one thing’s for sure they have been a well-known combination for an incredibly long time.
In the US lamb chops and mutton with mint have been documented as far back as the old West in the US. On New Year’s Day in 1883 the Palace Arms at the Brown Palace was serving spring lamb with mint sauce, and before World War 1 it seemed to be the menu special at every fine eatery in the West of the US.
Likewise in the UK Lamb and mint has been eaten since around medieval times and there are many theories as to why. In medieval times the main export for the English was sheep’s wool, so it is said that they wanted to stop the locals eating sheep as this depleted the stock for generating wool. In order to do this a law was passed that made it illegal to consume lamb without bitter herbs which would give it a foul taste and therefore it would discourage the eating of lamb. Some suggest that the locals managed to get round this by creating mint sauce which they found palatable.
Some suggest that lamb and mint actually dates back to when lamb was eaten by the Israelites on the eve of their exodus from Egypt. It is said they ate the lamb with bitter herbs and that mint is the modern day development of this.
Another explanation is that because lamb is a fatty meat most cooks recognise that it needs an acidic ingredient to cut through this, and a mint sauce was a perfect accompaniment because it composed of fresh mint, sugar and vinegar. This is similar to pork being paired with apple sauce.
Many simply say it’s the perfect combination because not only does it taste good, but it also cleanses your palate.
Whatever the reason, the combination has become timeless and is a perfect spring meal. Among the other seasonal ingredients that are at their best in April are spring onions, watercress, and wild garlic. So why not make yourself some roast lamb with mint jelly and some wild garlic mash for a Sunday treat? We have a variety of lamb cuts to choose from that are all fresh and locally sourced, that are perfect for a spring feast, you can check them out here.