Henley Food Blog: Seasonal & Local – Pistachio Crusted Rack of Lamb with ‘Potato al Forno’

I’ve rather neglected writing about the food I cook lately. I have been so awash with the amazing people that live and work in this town and their contribution to the food scene that I haven’t had time to bring you stories from my own kitchen. So it’s time to indulge myself and bring you a recipe that I put together for a dinner last week for friends. I’m a ‘reasonably good’ home cook and am always looking to challenge myself. I’d always wanted to cook a rack of lamb but was never brave enough to spend a small fortune on a dish that ultimately I could ruin. I took advice from the ever reliable Barry at Machins and took the ram by the horns and bought two racks of lamb, beautifully prepared and ready to roast. I have always envied the Masterchef contestants and their ability to whip up a coating for lamb and fish that looks, well, ‘cheffy’. So, as is my way, I dived into the countless cookbooks I own and came up with a vibrant green pistachio crumb. I was impressed, as were my guests when I proudly showed it off to them the minute they walked through the door! And, do you know, it really wasn’t that difficult. So if you are looking to impress, and want to push the boat out a little, then this might just be the recipe to do it!

Before you dive into the recipe just a few updates on what’s to come. We have an interview with the quite remarkable Tamsin Borlase, a review of the Bottle and Glass, and a chat to the wonderful people up at the Fairmile Vineyard, Jan and Anthea Mirkowski. All of this accompanied by a few delicious recipes to make your Christmas that bit more special. Now back to the lamb! I teamed this up with Jamie Oliver’s ‘Potato al Forno’ and some steamed tender stemmed broccoli.

Pistachio Crusted Rack of Lamb

Ingredients

For the lamb:

  • 2 x French-trimmed 7-bone racks of lamb (I got mine from Machins, they will prep them for you)
  • olive oil
  • Coarse salt & pepper
  • unsalted butter
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 100 g shelled pistachios
  • 1 bunch of fresh flat-leaf parsley (30g)
  • 75 g panko breadcrumbs
  • Half a whole nutmeg for grating
  • Dijon mustard
  • For the Potato al forno:
  • To accompany:
  • 300g tender stemmed/purple broccoli
Method

Preheat the oven to 180ºC/350ºF/gas 4.

  1. Ensure that your lamb is at room temperature before you begin.
  2. Use a little olive oil to smear over the lamb, then generously season with salt and pepper
  3. You need to sear the racks, one at a time,  in a hot frying pan on a high heat with a little oil and butter turning occasionally until they are golden all over. Remove them from the pan and leave to rest.
  4. To make your crumb,  place your peeled cloves of garlic in a food processor with the pistachios and parsley, use the stalks as well. Add the panko, the grated nutmeg and blitz!
  5. Brush each rack with the dijon mustard. Don’t scrimp, you need enough for the crumb to stick to. Cover the top of the racks with the crumb, patting it down with your hands to stick.
  6. I roast mine for around 25 minutes which gives the lamb that ‘rose blush’ I am looking for. You can add 10 minutes to the cooking time if you prefer yours done a little more.
  7. Remove from the oven and allow to rest for 10-15 minutes
  8. You can now prep and put on to steam your broccoli.

For the Potato al Forno:

Ingredients
  • 1 kg Maris Piper potatoes
  • 2 onions
  • 2 bulbs of fennel
  • 600 ml whole milk
  • 400 ml double cream
  • 6 anchovy fillets , in oil
  • 8 cloves of garlic
  • ½ a bunch of fresh rosemary , (15g)
  • 6 fresh bay leaves
  • 1 whole nutmeg , for grating
  • 50 g Parmesan cheese
Method
  1. Preheat the oven to 180ºC/350ºF/gas 4.
  2. Finely slice the potatoes, onions and fennel. I use a mandolin, scary things but very effective. You can of course just do it with a nice, thickness of a pound coin will do.
  3. Pour the milk and cream into a pan. Chop up the anchovies and add them. Add your chopped garlic, rosemary sprigs and bay leaves. Grate in half the nutmeg.
  4. Bring up to a simmer for a few minutes then turn off and allow to infuse for 10 minutes. Remove and discard the herbs, finely grate and whisk in most of the Parmesan, then taste and season.
  5. In a 25cm x 30cm baking dish, layer up the slices of potato, onion and fennel. Pour over the cream mixture and finely grate over the remaining Parmesan.
  6. Cover with tin foil and bake for 30 minutes, then remove the foil and bake for another 45 minutes, or until tender and nicely browned on top.
  7. Remove from the oven. It’s important that you leave it to rest. It may well be too liquidy at this stage but by leaving it to sit the juices will soak. I leave mine for 20 minutes or so whilst I get on with the lamb. You can always put it back into the oven to warm through.
  8. You can make this ahead and reheat whilst the lamb is finishing off and resting