Reform sauce is mouth-wateringly piquant and deliriously seasoned with herbs and spices. It was invented in the 1830s by the great French chef Alexis Soyer. At the time he was Chef de Cuisine of the Reform Club in London's Pall Mall, a favourite meeting place for politicians after Parliament. The club still exists, with Lamb Cutlets Reform a popular item on the menu.
This recipe is a simplified version of the traditional one, and omits ingredients such as hard-boiled egg white and cooked tongue which would make the sauce too elaborate for modern tastes.
15 g (1/2 oz) butter
1 small onion, skinned and finely chopped
1 medium carrot, finely sliced
50 g (2 oz) lean ham, cut into thin strips
60 ml (4 tbsp) red wine vinegar
45 ml (3 tbsp) port
568 ml (1 pint) lamb or chicken stock
2 blades of mace
1 bay leaf
4 juniper berries, crushed
pinch of dried thyme
8 lamb cutlets, each weighing about 75 g (3 oz)
50 g (2 oz) cooked ham, finely minced
50 g (2 oz) fresh breadcrumbs
1 egg, beaten
15 ml (1 tbsp) cornflour
1. To make the Reform sauce, melt the butter in a medium saucepan, then add the onion, carrot and ham strips and cook gently until just turning brown. Add the vinegar and port and boil rapidly until almost all the liquid evaporates.
2. Remove the pan from the heat and add the stock, cloves, mace, bay leaf, juniper berries and thyme. Stir well, return to the heat and bring to the boil. Lower the heat and simmer gently for about 30 minutes.
3. Meanwhile, trim the cutlets to remove most of the surrounding fat. Scrape the bone absolutely clean to within 2.5 cm (1 inch) of the 'eye' of the meat.
4. Mix the minced ham and breadcrumbs together. Brush each cutlet with beaten egg and coat with the ham and breadcrumb mixture. Cover and chill until required.
5. Blend the cornflour with about 30 ml (2 tbsp) water and add to the sauce. Stir well and bring the sauce to the boil, stirring continuously. Simmer until thickened.
6. Grill the cutlets for about 4 minutes on each side, until golden brown. Arrange the cutlets on a warmed serving dish and garnish each one with a cutlet frill. Reheat the sauce gently and serve separately.
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