Growing up, roast lamb and mint sauce was such an established pairing ‘mint sauce’ even became the nick-name of a wool coat I once owned. Long story which probably wouldn’t be funny in the re-telling ..
Mint Sauce is also a ‘by request’ recipe, if recipe you can call it. It’s unbelievably simple to make – which makes it so strange how much those jars cost in the supermarket.
Sunday lunch today was slow-roast lamb. The kind cooked long and slow so it falls away from the bone. Roast potatoes, of course. Mint Sauce, naturally, and I’m under orders to post it here.
It begins with mint. Spearmint is my choice. Chop it finely. My mum used to have a gadget for this. A kind of mouli with super sharp spikes. I have absolutely no idea what’s happened to that ..!
Incidentally, if you are ending up with green smears across your chopping board it’s because your knife is too blunt. For my family I make Mint Sauce in industrial quantities. You may need to scale down. Here, I’ve put 6 tablespoons of chopped mint in a bowl.
Mint is a bitter herb which is why it’s such a brilliant partner to sweet, fatty lamb, but in sauce form it needs a little sweetening. You can use honey, but my mum always used granulated sugar. It’s a ‘to taste’ thing. I’ve added 2 tablespoons.
This is the point at which I deviate from my training. My mum used to dissolve the sugar in a dash of boiling water before adding malt vinegar to give a sauce of the consistency she wanted. My brother loved it so much he’d drink it from the jug if she wasn’t watching.
I like my Mint Sauce to taste a little more of the mint and less of vinegar. It’s a choice. I add a couple of tablespoons of white wine vinegar.
For me, adding boiling water is a visual thing. Today, as a once in a life-time event, I measured it. 4 tablespoons. Ish. Taste it. Adjust with a little more water or a little more vinegar, depending on your preference.
Stir until the sugar has dissolved, then set it aside to get acquainted. Give it at least an hour.
This jug is important. Throughout my entire childhood Mint Sauce was always, absolutely, never-not served in a jug like this. The story goes …
As a little girl my mum used to visit her maternal grandma once a week. They caught the bus back into Fulham (an area of London they’d left when their house was bombed) and went to tea. ‘Nanny Carey’ owned the Mint Jug and my mum admired it so often her grandma said, ‘you’d better take it, girl’.
Fast forward a few decades …
My brother and I both wanted future custody of the Mint Jug. Graham argued it was his by rights because he was the one who ate Mint Sauce to excess and I reckoned it should come to me because I actually knew how to make it.
One day, she discovered a duplicate at an antiques fair. In monetary terms it’s not valuable. Just carnival glass, I gather. So, she bought a duplicate. Almost. One has a slightly raised centre on the bottom. She set them side by side and asked Graham and I which was the original.
Sadly, he won. On the up side – mine has a smooth bottom!
It’s one of the things I’d save in a fire, but who is going to inherit it ..???
With or without a mint jug, Mint Sauce is delicious. Eat.
- 3 tablespoons of finely chopped mint, spearmint for preference
- 1 tablespoon of granulated sugar
- 2 tablespoons of white wine vinegar
- 4 tablespoons of boiling water, straight from a kettle
Remove the mint leaves from the stalks. Discard the stalks and finely chop the leaves. Place 3 tablespoons in a bowl.
Add 1 tablespoon of granulated sugar and 2 tablespoons of white wine vinegar. Pour over 4 tablespoons of boiling water. Stir until the sugar crystals have dissolved. Taste and adjust to taste with either a little more vinegar or a little more water. Set aside to allows the flavours to harmonise.