Racks of Lamb with Green Herb Crust

A recipe by Robert Carrier

Racks of young lamb are needed for this brilliant party dish. The secret is to roast the lamb in two stages.  First an initial roasting for 20 mins, before patting on the buttery crust of breadcrumbs, watercress, parsley, green peppercorns and mustard powder.  Then, just before serving, simply roast the crusted meat in a hot oven until the lamb is ready and the crust is crisp.

Main course      Serves:  4-6

Ingredients:  2 racks best end of neck baby lamb, each with 6 cutlets (ask your butcher to skin and chine the racks) salt and freshly ground pepper; cayenne pepper.  For the Green Herb Crust:  1 tbsp mustard powder; 4 tbsp softened butter; 6 tbsp fresh breadcrumbs; 6 tbsp finely chopped watercress; 6 tbsp finely chopped flat-leaf parsley; 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped; 1 tbsp green peppercorns, crushed; 2 tbsp melted butter

To prepare the lamb – Preheat the oven to 200oC/400oF/Gas Mark 6.  With a sharp knife, remove all but a very thin layer of fat from the meaty side of the racks of lamb. Score the remaining layer of fat diagonally in both directions to make a close-knit lattice pattern:  this will hold the herb crust during the final roasting.  Season the racks of lamb generously with salt, freshly ground pepper and a hint of cayenne, then roast them on a baking tray in the hot oven for 20 min.  Remove from the oven and leave at room temperature to cool.

To prepare the Green Herb Crust – Combine the mustard powder and softened butter to form a paste.  Spread this oven the meaty side of the lamb.  Combine the breadcrumbs, finely chopped watercress, parsley and garlic and the crushed green peppercorns; pat this mixture over the buttery side of the lamb.  Drizzle the melted butter over the lamb, and keep at room temperature until ready for final roasting.

To finish and serve – Preheat the oven to 200oC/400oF/Gas Mark 6.  Roast the butter, crusted lamb for 20 mins.  To carve, hold the exposed end of the bones while cutting gently between them, releasing the 12 chops (cutlet frills, should you have them, will prevent fingers getting greasy as you work).  Serve immediately, with 2 or 3 chops per person.

Serve with Tomato, mozzarella and basil stack with balsamic vinegar and lime dressing and Lemon Tart

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