What can be better on Easter Sunday, than lunching on a succulent piece of lamb? But there’s too much meat on a leg or shoulder if you’re not feeding the masses. If you’re planning an intimate Easter this year, Victoria shows how a rack is the ideal cut for a small gathering.
Roast lamb studded with garlic and rosemary is always a winner, as is a whole shoulder slow roasted, provençal style, or liberally spread with ras el hanout. But there’s too much meat on a leg or shoulder if you’re not feeding the masses. Posher than shank and more refined than chops, rack of lamb makes the perfect celebration centrepiece.
One of my favourite ways to serve rack of lamb is with a herb and breadcrumb crust, but since living with a gluten dodger it’s become less of a dinner table fixture at my gaff. It’s no real hardship though, as rack of lamb is equally delicious unadorned with a crust. It’s wonderful simply marinated in garlic, cumin and lemon or roasted with a rub of garlic and served with mint sauce and roast potatoes.
But it’s Easter and a crust feels more festive somehow, if only because it requires a little more ceremony to produce. Olives with lamb are a classic combination, so I’ve decided on a black olive, Parmesan, lemon and herb crust. I love the slightly bitter sourness of the olives with the fragrance of the lemon against the sweet, juicy meat. By all means add a couple of anchovies to the mixture too, if you like - anchovies and lamb together are magic.
I’m serving mine with buttered spinach, roasted cherry tomatoes and sautéed potatoes, but this dish would also be lovely with a dressed salad or roasted carrots and broccoli.
Olive Crusted Rack of Lamb
Feeds 2 to 3.
1 French-trimmed rack of lamb (6 – 8 ribs)
125g pitted black olives
2 handfuls of finely grated Parmesan
A handful of flat leaf parsley, chopped
A handful of fresh mint, chopped
The zest of 2 lemons
4 – 6 cloves of garlic, chopped
Salt and pepper
Generously season the lamb. Heat a slug of oil in a large frying pan and place the lamb, fat-side down, in the hot pan. Leave to brown for 3 – 4 minutes and turn over and leave for another minute – not too long. Leave the lamb to rest while you make the olive crust.
Preheat the oven to 200°C (180°C fan)
Blitz all of the remaining ingredients in the food processor until the mixture resembles rubble. Place the lamb on a baking parchment lined baking tray, fat-side up, and press the olive mixture on in an even layer.
Bake for 25 – 35 minutes, depending on how pink you like your lamb, and leave to rest for 10 minutes before carving.
Inspired? For more delicious lamb recipes for Easter visit Great British Chefs collection.