Lamb Steaks

The steak sandwich lost a little of its lustre because too many were sold with too much fat and gristle to fight with. If you use the loin of lamb you’ll never face that indignity again.

Well before there were such things as the new cuts of red meat and poultry, butchers used to sell a thing called minute steak. It was, from my memory, from the flank of the animal, often labelled ’skirt steak’ and had been sliced finely, and pounded. Lamb steaks are sold in supermarkets under the same sort of principle. These are fine, but note that in general this meat comes from the leg, and for most of the year it is not that tender when cooked rapidly in a hot pan.

I prefer to use a boned loin – boned of course by your butcher – removed of all fat and sinews, and sliced in such a way that it flattens into something like a rectangle. You have then the most tender and deliciously flavoured part of the lamb, and you can cook it in less than a minute and it truly is magnificent. If you do nothing more than stick it into a couple of slices of buttered bread, you will be greatly happy. Don’t apply the same rules for fillet steak. As different as boys and girls. For beef steak go thick, and cook rare.

The rack is merely the eight chops from half the loin, bared of fat, and the bones sitting up and flaunting themselves. Don’t forget that the bones are there for show. What you’re really after is the meat from the loin itself. The opportunities from this marvellously tender, yet superbly flavoured cut are pretty much unlimited.

One of my all-time favourite dishes is the entire loin, boned, but the backfat retained. All you have to do is layer the lamb with finely sliced garlic, add a little salt and black pepper, roll the fat back into place, covering all the meat, tie securely, and roast the lot in a hot oven for 12-15 minutes. When ready, allow the lamb to relax for 5 minutes while you’re getting the rest of the meal together. Discard the fat and slice the brilliantly tender, full- flavoured and marvellous loin into tiny medallions. One whole loin is enough for six normal people, four very hungry people.

1 rack of lamb (4-6 chops) per person, boned, fat and sinew removed


black pepper


Each boned rack will leave you with a ‘cylinder’ of lamb from the loin. (Boning rooms often supply full ‘straps’ of lamb, already boned. One of these will provide four or five steaks, depending on appetites.) Each deboned rack needs to be sliced in half lengthways, three-quarters of the way through. Flatten, and slice each of the newly created ‘flaps’ in half. You should now have something resembling rectangles of lamb. Give them a gentle beating with a kitchen hammer, or the back of a heavy knife, breaking down any resistance.


Now you cook each lamb rectangle just like steak, but more quickly. Heat a mere film of oil in a heavy-based pan until quite hot. Pour off any excess. Ease in the lamb ‘steaks’ one by one, sliding them about the pan to prevent them from sticking to the bottom. Make sure the steaks are well separated, or they will stew in their own juices.


Cook on one side for a minute. Turn, and cook on the other for 30 seconds. Remove and keep warm.


This dish needs no more than a little salt and black pepper. It is wonderfully tender and makes for the greatest steak sandwiches in the history of the world.

WINE: Lamb and Coonawarra. You can’t go wrong.