Wandering in from outside where I had been collecting fresh vegetables and walking into the kitchen, the aroma hit my nasal passage. Wow! Not only did it send my heart racing but my stomach let out a large growl. Was I hungry or was it telling me it was hungry?
What was cooking? Quite simply, one of my most favorite dishes, rack of lamb – a treat for me, as it had been quite some time since this delicacy had graced my table. My guests were surely in for a surprise.
What is it about rack of lamb that really tantalizes my taste buds? I put it down to the fact that this dish is a memory, an amazing memory of happy times with family and friends, always lots of smiles when row upon row of perfectly cooked racks of lamb would be presented. Oooo’s and ahhhhs, followed by silence as each person started to savour the flavours of the lamb. So distinct, so absolutely yummy.
Easy on the prep time.
4 racks of lamb (2 pairs of best ends), French trimmed
4 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
Pinch of both salt and pepper
4 tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons freshly chopped rosemary
6 tablespoons olive oil
Preheat the oven to 350 C. Season the lamb with salt and pepper, then rub on the mustard, one to each rack.
Heat a large, heavy, frying pan over a moderately high heat, add three tablespoons of olive oil and brown two of the racks well on the meaty sides for about one to two minutes; then turn and brown the other side for a further one minute. Finally, brown the ends briefly so that all of the exposed meat is seared. Once completed remove and place in a large roasting pan. Repeat this exercise with the remaining two racks.
With the four racks now in the roasting pan, stand them in pairs with their bones interlinked. Roast for about 10 minutes for medium, giving you pink, juicy meat in the middle (the best way to eat it). Should you wish the lamb slightly more well-done, roast for a total of 12 to 15 minutes.
Red wine reduction
6 shallots sliced
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 garlic clove, lightly crushed
2 sprigs fresh rosemary
5 tablespoons of good quality balsamic vinegar
2 cups red wine
2 cups beef stock
Over a high heat, sauté the shallots in a medium saucepan with the olive oil for about three minutes or until lightly browned, stirring often. Season with ground black pepper and add the garlic and rosemary. Continue cooking for a further three minutes, stirring often to ensure you do not burn the shallots.
Pour in the balsamic vinegar and reduce until it has all but evaporated away leaving just syrup, then pour in the wine and cook until the wine is reduced by two-thirds. Finally, pour in the stock and bring to a boil. Turn down the heat and simmer until reduced by two-thirds again, to around one cup. Strain the remaining ingredients, then return to the heat. Add a little salt to taste and any juices from the racks of lamb just before serving. (To give this reduction a little richness you can add a knob of butter or even a couple of tablespoons of cream.)
Once the lamb is cooked, remove it from the oven. Place the lamb on a heated plate, cover loosely with foil, allow to rest for about five minutes before carving into cutlets and serving.
At this time of year my personal preference to accompany this is fresh asparagus and new potatoes.
Ian Leatt is general manager of Pegasus Publications.