New Zealand's favourite celebrity cook, Annabel Langbein, shares the secrets of the perfect rack of lamb. So cook up a feast this Waitangi Day...
New Zealand is renowned around the world for the quality of its lamb. This recipe takes all the risk out of cooking the quintessential lamb dish – lamb racks. The most important thing to remember here is that your oven needs to be really hot before the lamb racks go in. It’s also important to rest the meat for almost as long as you roast it. Covering it with tin foil and tea-towels keeps it warm before carving and ensures an evenly cooked, moist result.
Preparation time: 20 minutes, plus marinating
Cook time: 16-20 minutes, plus resting
3 lamb racks, trimmed, or 3-4 lamb rumps
4 tbsp salsa verde (see below)
Flaky salt and ground black pepper
Broad bean mash
Extra salsa verde (see below)
To make the salsa verde:
Puree 100g parsley leaves, about 40 chopped chives, 250ml extra virgin olive oil, 4 tbsp capers, 3 garlic cloves, 4 tbsp lemon juice, 2 tsp Dijon mustard, ground black pepper, 1/4 small red onion, chopped, 8-10 anchovies and the yolk of 1 hard-boiled egg in a food processor until smooth.
Salsa verde keeps in a covered jar in the fridge for about a week or it can be frozen.
Preparing the lamb racks:
Rub the lamb all over with salsa verde and season with salt and pepper. Cover and stand for at least 30 minutes, or refrigerate for up to 12 hours. If you do put the lamb in the fridge, take it out 30 minutes before cooking so it can reach room temperature before going into the oven.
When you are ready to eat, preheat oven to 230˚C. Transfer lamb to an oven tray or heavy cast iron dish and roast for 16-20 minutes or until it is done to your preference. Remove the dish from the oven, cover it with tinfoil and then place a couple of clean cloths over the top to keep it warm while it rests for 10-15 minutes.
Slice between the bones to separate the lamb rack into cutlets and serve on a bed of broad bean mash, accompanied by an extra dish of salsa verde.
Dairy products are one of New Zealand’s major exports and this easy recipe shows how to transform yoghurt into cheese overnight. It’s delicious served with sweet summer tomatoes and crisply toasted pita breads.
6-8 handfuls (150-200g) salad greens
1 recipe slow roasted tomatoes (see below)
1 recipe soft fresh cheese (see below)
Crispy garlic pita breads (see below)
Slow roasted tomatoes
Preheat oven to 150°C. Line a baking tray with baking paper and spread 1kg cherry tomatoes or 18 small vine tomatoes out on top. If using vine tomatoes, carefully cut the vines into bunches of 3-4 tomatoes, leaving the stems intact. Drizzle with 4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil and 2 tbsp balsamic. Season with 1/2 tsp salt and ground black pepper and sprinkle with 2 tsp sugar. Bake for 1 and a 1/4 hours or until the tomatoes are slightly shrivelled. Leave them on the tray until you are ready to serve. Slow roasted tomatoes keep in the fridge for about a week.
Soft fresh cheese
Start preparing this cheese the day before you want to serve it. Mix 1kg unsweetened Greek, goat’s milk or buffalo milk yoghurt with 1 1/2 tsp salt. Line a sieve with paper towels or clean muslin, add the salted yoghurt and place the sieve over a bowl to drain. Place it in the fridge or a cool place overnight. In the morning, discard the liquid produced and turn the cheese out of the sieve into a bowl. Soft fresh cheese keeps in a covered container in the fridge for about a week. Makes 500ml.
Crispy garlic pita breads
Use the flat side of a heavy knife to crush 2 peeled garlic cloves and 1/2 tsp salt to a paste. Mix with 75ml olive oil in a small bowl. Split 5 large pita breads into rounds about 1cm thick and brush both sides with the oil mixture. Cut pitas into wedges and spread on a baking tray. Sprinkle with 1 tsp dried oregano, if desired. Bake in an oven preheated to 150°C until crisp – 25-30 minutes. Store in an airtight container. Makes about 50.
Place a handful of salad greens on each of 6-8 plates. Divide slow roasted tomatoes and soft fresh cheese between the plates. Spoon the juices from the tomatoes over the top and finish each plate with a couple of crispy garlic pita breads.
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