Maggie and I returned from Europe in the second week of October, slap bang in the middle of Spring-lamb season. Although the supply of quality cuts of lamb is not as seasonal as it once was, it is still the case that it is at its peak in Spring. So, we make the most of it and have lamb on the menu frequently.
This season, we have cooked a rack of lamb – the most succulent and expensive cut – on two occasions. The cooking methods and the quality of the end result varied significantly and, while the former will account for most of this post, the latter matters too. (Did you see what I did there?)
I’ll start with the 8-point rack – enough for 3 or 4 Senior’s Card holders – on the left.
The coating is made from: 1/2 to 2/3 cup homemade breadcrumbs, 2 tsp (10ml) Dijon mustard, 3 tsp chopped parsley, 1 grated or finely chopped clove of garlic, 30-40g crumbled feta, plenty of black pepper, a generous pinch of salt and enough olive oil to give it a gloss. (You could add 1 or 2 tsp of lemon zest, if that appealed to your palate.)
The result? We bought the lamb from a butcher at Prahran market, who is our preferred supplier of cuts of veal. His display of lamb racks looked very tempting; we didn’t try to resist. Unfortunately, this rack was a bit chewy and the flavour of the meat was not great. But the coating worked as well as it usually does.
The second rack was purchased at Ashburton Meats, our preferred supplier of beef, lamb and pork. We prepared this 6-point rack by applying an Indian spice rub the day before we cooked it. Meanwhile, I cooked some palak, the Indian dish made from spinach. Then, while the lamb was roasting, I made a spicy rice pilau, combined some yoghurt and chopped mint in a small dish and heated some naan bread in the electric toaster.
This meal was completely delicious. The lamb was tender, juicy and flavoursome, and the spice rub proved to be very compatible.
The rub is made by combining 2 tbsp (40ml) ground cumin seeds, 1 tbsp ground coriander, 1 tbsp Madras curry powder, 2 tsp (10ml) ground cardamom, ½ tsp garam masala, 1½ tbsp sea salt flakes, 2 tbsp brown sugar and 1 tsp ground cinnamon. This is sufficient for several meals.
We also use the rub when making a fish curry, adding the spice mix to some softened onion and garlic, then chunks of fish – shark, hapuka and barramundi all work well – a little coconut cream and a little water.
I am still fine-tuning my palak recipe but, after one more attempt, it will be ready to share.