Sumac roasted loin of mutton with labneh and asparagus

Half a loin of mutton had been sitting at the back of my freezer for a while, waiting for some inspiration. I had recently made some more labneh and knew this would work very well with the meat, a sprinkle of tangy sumac would lift it all and some new season asparagus would add sweetness and texture.

But this would only work with the thick central part of the loin, there was still the fatty but very tasty breast of mutton attached to the loin to use. I decided to create a meze of mutton: this recipe for sumac roasted loin, then spiced crispy breast of mutton with wild garlic and chargrilled fennel in the next recipe, accompanied with some olive oil and saffron potatoes and whole roasted shallots with pomegranate molasses.

Serves 2 as part of sharing plates

Ingredients

eye portion from 500g loin of mutton and skin removed sliced into chunks or small steaks

Marinade: 2 tbsp sumac; 1 clove garlic, crushed; 1 tsp dried oregano; juice of ½ lemon; 2 tbsp olive oil; sea salt

6 spears asparagus; 2 balls labneh

more sumac and olive oil to serve

Preparation

Having cut out and sliced up the mutton eye of loin (a butcher can do this if you like), mix all the marinade ingredients together in a bowl then add the pieces of meat. Allow to stand for as long as you can, at least 20 minutes, preferably a couple of hours.

Get a ridged griddle pan really hot.

Blanch the asparagus spears in boiling water for no more than a minute then refresh and hold in chilled water. Slice into inch-long pieces then chargrill on the griddle pan until well marked and tender. Arrange on a plate with pieces of labneh.

Chargrill the pieces of mutton to medium rare (depending on size about 3 or 4 minutes on each side). Remove from the pan, allow to stand for a couple of minutes then arrange over the asparagus and labneh.  Sprinkle over some more olive oil and sumac and serve.

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