The brief heatwave earlier this summer sparked off a moment of nostalgia that got me thinking about long, hot Norfolk summers when I was a lad. Do you remember those bumper summer specials you used to get of your favourite comic? They seemed to last for ages, with tons to read, puzzles to solve and ideas to try. This, of course, was before the days of tablet screens and smartphones, which most kids seem to turn to for entertainment these days. Anyway, the bumper special was a real highlight and marked the start of what seemed like endless weeks of summer holiday fun.
Still one of my favourite times of year, these days August is a busy month when – in addition to our fantastic local customers – the coast’s population swells with holidaymakers who come to share our fantastic location. A bit like those bumper summer specials, the meat counter is packed with the best of the season’s offerings – chicken, beef, pork and lamb are all in their prime and there are endless cuts and ways to cook and enjoy them. Whether you need a quick and easy grill that Billy Whizz would be proud of, or something with a bit more panache that Lord Snooty would approve, there’s tons to choose from.
To fit the latter bill, I’ve had my eye on a smashing James Martin recipe for hazelnut-crusted salt marsh lamb rumps. We often get an early crop of hazelnuts, which is one of the first signs that autumn’s nudging summer out of pole position, and this is a fantastic recipe to put them to good use. You need about 4oz of nuts, which you chop with a teaspoon of rosemary (or blitz in a food processor).
Take two lamb rump steaks and sear in a little butter in a frying pan for a couple of minutes. Remove this to a plate and brush all over with a little English mustard before rolling the steaks in the hazelnut mixture. Return to the pan and place in the oven for 12-15 minutes for medium, or a little longer depending upon how you like it cooked. Serve the steaks with some fresh runner beans and new potatoes for some fine dining that’s worthy of the Bank Holiday, which sees the month out.
It’s all change next month, with back to school and – before we know it – the run up to Christmas, so make the most of August’s bumper month and enjoy summer’s bounty.