Lamb’s Best Friend

By Katherine Cancila

Published on September 6, 2009

In a 1983 restaurant review for the New York Times, the food writer Florence Fabricant asked, "[I]sn't it about time that restaurants stopped serving bright green mint jelly with lamb?" Granted, there are more subtly flavored accompaniments for grilled or roasted lamb (see Potato Skordalia, Pistou, Apricot Chutney and Tapenade), but with all due respect to Fabricant, mint jelly—that emerald-colored condiment that evolved from Great Britain's classic mint sauce and is typically made with spearmint, sugar, vinegar, pectin, apple juice, and food coloring—is still one of our favorites. After all, the refreshing taste of cool mint jelly is an ideal counterpoint to the richness of a well-cooked leg or rack of lamb. In recent years, makers of artisanal fruit preserves in the UK have introduced all-natural versions of the condiment, a few of which are pictured. Tracklements (third from left) and Rosebud Farm Preserves (second from right) are two fine examples; both have bright mint flavor and just the right amount of sweetness, albeit without the dazzling green color. For that, we reach for a jar of Crosse & Blackwell's old-fashioned mint-flavored apple jelly (third from right). A proper lamb feast just doesn't seem complete without it.

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