Lamb Rack Niçoise

A French inspired lamb recipe which hails from Nice. The rack of lamb is cooked with an exciting combination of herbs and served with a niçoise garnish.

Introduction

Here‘s an elegant dish that is easier to make than it appears. Ask your butcher to chine (remove the backbone) and French trim the lamb racks for you so that the finished dish is easy to carve. You can make a large quantity of the breadcrumb crust and keep it in the freezer to use as and when needed – it doesn’t have to be fresh every time. For the best result, use good-quality Provençal olives in oil.

Serves 4

Ingredients

Generous handful of fresh flatleaf parsley leaves
1 tsp chopped fresh rosemary leaves
1 tsp chopped fresh thyme leaves
2 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
250g white breadcrumbs, half dry and half fresh
2 French trimmed racks of lamb
50g butter
2 tbsp olive oil
50g Dijon mustard
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
For the niçoise garnish:
3 tbsp olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
1 large courgette, cut into 5mm dice
4 small bunches of vine-ripened cherry tomatoes
1 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
10 black olives, pitted
A handful of fresh basil leaves

Essential kit

You will need a food processor.

Instructions

Put the parsley in a food processor and blitz until finely chopped. Add the rosemary, thyme and garlic and blitz again. Add the breadcrumbs a handful at a time until you are left with a fine, vivid green mixture.

Preheat the oven to 240°C/Gas Mark 9.

Season the lamb all over. Heat the butter and oil in a large frying pan or roasting tin until hot and foaming. Add the lamb racks and cook, turning, for about 5 minutes, or until browned on all sides. Place in the hot oven for 4 minutes, then remove and leave to rest for at least 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, prepare the niçoise garnish. Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a small frying pan over a medium heat and cook the courgette for 2-3 minutes, or until softened. Remove from the heat and set aside.

Place the cherry tomatoes, still on the vine, in a baking tray and drizzle with the remaining tablespoon of olive oil. Season and drizzle over the sugar and vinegar. Roast for 5 minutes, or until the tomato skins start to blister. Remove and set aside, keeping warm.

Brush the lamb with the mustard, then roll it in the breadcrumb mixture to coat all over. Return to the oven for 5 minutes.

Mix the courgette, olives and basil in a bowl and season. Remove the lamb from the oven and rest it briefly before cutting into slices. Place 2-3 cutlets on each plate, together with a bunch of tomatoes. Spoon the courgette mixture around the lamb and finish with a drizzle of olive oil.

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