When the first garlic heads appear in our markets, the pale violet papers are still soft as silk. This is the time to prepare a caramelised treat to serve with lamb and the first fève or broad beans. Using just one pan, I began with the garlic then let the meat and beans be flavored by the pungent spring aromas.
lamb cutlets (1 double or 2 single chops per person)
2 heads of new garlic
2 cups of shelled very small broad beans
sprigs of fresh thyme
2 tablespoons neutral flavoured oil (canola, sunflower)
sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Trim and generously salt and pepper the lamb cutlets. Set aside. Pour oil in a sauté pan large enough to hold all the lamb. Place over medium heat.
Cut the garlic heads in half and place cut side down in oil. Cover. (Use aluminum foil if your pan does not have a lid.) Turn the heat down to low and let the garlic steam and brown at the same time. In these young garlic cloves there is still a lot of water and they will become sweet and tender cooking in their own juices.
When the garlic halves are nicely browned and thoroughly soft, gently lift them out of the pan with a spatula onto a waiting platter. Cover with the foil and keep warm. Return the pan to the heat and raise the temperature to medium-high. Add more oil if necessary, and sear the lamb on both sides, cooking until done to your liking.
Remove the lamb to the platter and keep warm. Now turn the heat up high and toss in the broad beans. Splash with a half-glass of water and let them braise in the cooking liquid until it has evaporated. Toss some salt and fresh thyme sprigs into the beans before arranging around the lamb and garlic heads. Serves 4