This recipe has been devised in response to Hugh’s “Three Good Things” challenge. I am, of course, endeavouring to add beer as a sneaky fourth “good thing”. I’m adding it as a subtle addition — much the way the chefs in the TV episodes will gladly include brilliant oils, vinegars, stocks, and herbs without giving them a headline credit.
A slightly exotic twist on a good old roast rack of lamb.
For the second week of Hugh’s “3 good things” challenge I was slightly disappointed, but not surprised, that the challenge meat was not venison. Only because I’d recently butchered an entire fallow deer and currently have a fridge and freezer full of the stuff! Lamb however is a great favourite of mine so I’m not going to knock the excuse to have some for Sunday dinner. I popped out to our local butcher and asked for a rack, but specifically not “French trimmed” — that meat on the back of the bones is the best bit! Quite fatty, and not as tender as the fillet along the bottom, but oh so tasty. I trimmed off just about half an inch at the top to create a bit of “handle” bone (this is finger food!) and BBQed the trimmed strip as a “chef’s perk”. Anyway, this recipe will work just as well with a normally “Frenched” rack.
Rack of lamb is deeply nostalgic for me — growing up it was always a favourite kitchen treat, not to mention a favourite kitchen smell. Sometimes crusted, sometimes plain, often served with some mash. Always eaten with fingers — gnawing all the goodness from those little bones.
Lamb and aubergine are a well loved pairing, think moussaka. In Moroccan recipes coriander often plays a starring role in this combination too. So these are the ingredients I’ve focused on. Aubergine in the form of a rich baba ghanoush, rack of lamb, and a lifting zest of fresh coriander throughout.
- Aubergine — I’ve used 3 medium ones
- Garlic clove
- Tahini — to taste
- Light Olive Oil — to taste
- Lemon juice — to taste
- Salt — to taste
- Ground corriander seed — to taste
- Fresh coriander — to taste!
Sorry it’s all “to taste” — use your tastebuds :)
The most important thing is the char-grilling of your aubergines. Ideally use a charcoal grill. For the baba ghanoush to taste right it really must have that smoky/charred flavour. Unfortunately I only have a gas BBQ handy so I created a little “smoking pack” with some soaked woodchips, coriander seeds, and hops. About a large handful of woodchips will do. I’ve added maybe a tablespoon of coriander seeds, and a few pinches of hops — I have no idea if they contribute notably to the flavour. Grill the aubergines until they’re super-soft inside, a knife should run through them like they’re butter and the knife is red hot.
Scoop the flesh out of your aubergines and place into a saucepan and simmer off any excess liquid. You should be able to clear a spot in the bottom of the pan and not have liquid run into it for over a minute. While this is going on I grated in one garlic clove and added lemon juice a little at a time until I was happy with the flavour. Just a little acid, just a little salty. I want the smoky aubergine to shine out here and not be too overwhelmed by the other flavours.
Let the aubergine cool, you can do the next step when you’re ready to serve or it can be done in advance.
The next step is to simply place it in a bowl and energetically whisk in a tablespoon or two of tahini and a gradual drizzle of olive oil until you’re happy with the consistency and flavour.
Finally stir through the ground corriander seed and plenty of roughly chopped fresh coriander leaf – again, to taste. But I like the taste of coriander so I probably put about 4 chopped tablespoons into mine. (Reserve a little coriander for garnishing later.)
- Rich stock — made with roast lamb bones by preference, beef or game will suffice
- Rich stout — I’ve used Williams Brothers “March of the Penguins”
- Maybe a sprinkle of muscovado sugar
What is the correct term here? In essence we have a strong dark stock that has been reduced until it is thick and gloopy. No thickener used, it isn’t a demi glace.
Reduce your stock down until you have just a few tablespoons with the consistency of runny honey, I started with a stock that isn’t far off this point — it’s solid at 15°C. (Beware if using commercial liquid stock, this will probably end up tasting like a salt-lick — it is worth making your own stock in bulk and keeping it in the freezer in reduced form.) Now add a good rich stout, one that isn’t too bitter, and reduce back to runny-honey. Keep doing this, tasting each stage until you’re happy. I added 130ml of stout to about 100ml of reduced stock. (Ending up with 100ml of reduced stout+stock!) You may add a little sugar if you desire here, just a sprinkle of muscovado at a time until you’re happy.
Carefully keep this warm while you finish off the lamb, you can loosen it with a dash of stout if needed.
- A rack of lamb ;)
- ½ tsp salt
- 1 tsp ground coriander seed
I actually popped my rack of lamb into the BBQ while my aubergine smoke-pack was at its smokiest. Probably only about 15 minutes all up, but this nicely sizzled it a bit too as it gets quite hot under the hood of the BBQ. Alternatively you can pre-sizzle/brown your rack of lamb on a hot charcoal BBQ. Or do the usual trick: brown in a pan on the stove. When sizzled set the lamb aside for little while to cool, you can sizzle it and pop it back in the fridge even if you’re doing your charcoal grilling well in advance.
About half an hour before you’re ready to serve get your oven going nice and hot — about 220°C.
Combine the salt and ground coriander seed and rub thoroughly all over the lamb.
Put the lamb in a roasting tin pop it into the oven.
How do you like your lamb? Rare for me… so I pull it out of the oven after 15 minutes and check the internal temperature with a probe thermometer. It is a bit low… so another 5 minutes in the oven and it’s right. Aiming for mid-40s in degrees Celsius. It will want to rest for 10 minutes now.
Warm plates are essential, or the reduced stock will set solid in an instant!
Drizzle a pattern of the stock & stout reduction on the plates.
Plop a blob of baba ghanoush in the middle.
Carve your rack of lamb into chops and arrange on top.
Drizzle with a little more gravy and sprinkle with some chopped coriander to complete the dish.
Enjoy! With a glass of stout — of course. Use your fingers!