Lamb cutlets 'Reform'

Serves 8

We often serve these as a snack at art parties, as they are quite easy to eat with your fingers as well as being substantial and tasty. This dish was created by the famous Reform Club chef Alexis Soyer in the 1830s. He was a celebrity chef in his own right and would often be asked to cook for big, high-profile parties.

He also had great connections in the art world, as his wife Elizabeth Jones was an artist and sadly died at the age of 29. I've pared down some of the ingredients of the original recipe and incorporated them in the sauce.

8 small lamb cutlets, French trimmed
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 eggs, beaten
50g cooked ham, very finely chopped
1tbsp chopped parsley
60-70g fresh white breadcrumbs
Vegetable oil for frying
A good knob of butter

For the sauce

2 large shallots, peeled and finely chopped
Half a clove of garlic, peeled and crushed
A good pinch of cayenne pepper
A medium-sized knob of butter
2tsp flour
tsp tomato purée
2tbsp tarragon vinegar
1tbsp redcurrant jelly
300ml beef stock
1 small cooked beetroot weighing about 70g, peeled and finely chopped
2 large gherkins, finely chopped

First make the sauce: gently cook the shallots, garlic and cayenne pepper in the butter for 2-3 minutes, stirring every so often. Then add the flour and the tomato purée and stir well. Add the tarragon vinegar and the redcurrant jelly and simmer for about a minute, then slowly add the stock, bring to the boil and simmer gently for 15 minutes or until the sauce is quite thick. Add the beetroot and gherkins and season to taste.

Meanwhile, mix the breadcrumbs with the ham and parsley. Season the lamb cutlets and pass through the egg then the breadcrumbs. Heat a couple of tablespoons of the vegetable oil in a frying pan on a medium heat and cook the cutlets for about 3-4 minutes on each side or until golden, adding the butter towards the end.

Leave to cool a little before serving and arrange the cutlets on a serving dish, with the sauce in a suitable dipping dish.

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