Friday, January 23, 2009

Moroccan rack of lamb

Another busy week sweeps by. Exeter, Cheltenham, London. Back to living out of a suitcase and having too little time in my little kitchen. When I'm on the road I look forward to trying out restaurants around the country but part of me would almost always rather be cooking for myself, pottering gently in the kitchen.

Last week I had friends for dinner and discovered to my delight that my freezer was hiding a couple of racks of lamb. I think that rack of lamb is one of my favourite things to eat - a little pink (not too much so) and wonderfully succulent and juicy, each little cutlet of sweet meat is deeply satisfying to me.

Until recently, I always cooked lamb fairly traditionally - with herbs such as rosemary and thyme, sliver of garlic, perhaps the odd anchovy. I've been experimenting more though and love the way lamb works so brilliantly with spices - particularly north African spices.
Harissa is a staple in my fridge. For me, this slightly smoky, aromatic chilli-based paste is just made to go with lamb. Occasionally I smear it over lamb chops and pop them under the grill for a speedy yet flavour-packed weeknight supper, but this dish is an altogether more special affair. I served it for friends when they came over last week and heaped the orange and carrot flecked couscous into the centre of a huge serving platter and then arranged the cutlets all around the edge. It was a lovely centrepiece to bring to the table (...though I forgot to take any photos, of course). Best of all perhaps is that whilst this looks impressive, it is actually very easy to make. You simply mix the marinade ingredients together, smear them over the lamb and throw it all in the oven. The accompanying couscous can be thrown together whilst the lamb is resting.

Moroccan-spiced rack of lamb with couscous
Adapted from
a BBC Good Food recipe
Serves 2 (easily doubled or halved)


1 rack of lamb with 6-8 cutlets depending on size
5 tbsp olive oil
1 heaped tablespoon of harissa paste
1/4 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp tumeric
big bunch fresh coriander, chopped
juice of half a lemon
2 carrots
4 small shallots
100g couscous
150ml hot vegetable stock
1 small orange
handful flat-leaf parsley
50g flaked almonds

1. Pre-heat oven to 200C. Score the fat on the back of the lamb racks, season and place fat-down in a baking tray. In a small bowl, mix together 2 tbsp of the oil, the harissa, cumin, tumeric, paprika and a small handful of the fresh coriander (reserve another large handful for later). Add the lemon juice and a pinch of salt and stir well to combine. Rub and pour this mixture all over the lamb racks.

2. Chop the carrots and shallots into rough chunks, drizzle with oil, season with salt and pepper and shake to coat. Put both the lamb and the veggies in the oven for 20-25 minutes. Timing will depend on size of racks and also how well you like your meat done. To give you an idea, those in the photographs were in for 25 minutes. Keep an eye on the veg - you want them nicely roasted.

3. Remove lamb and veg from oven and leave lamb to rest on a warm plate while you assemble the couscous. Boil the kettle to make you stock, or heat up stock you already have. Pour over the couscous, place a clean tea-towel on top and leave for five minutes. Fluff the couscous up with a fork and add remaining 3 tbsp of olive oil, the orange juice, carrots and shallots. Chop a large handful of flat-lea parsley and coriander and throw in - season and stir the lot together.

4. Cut the lamb into individual cutlets. Divide couscous between each plate and top with the cutlets. Scatter over the flaked almonds and then dig in!


Frequent Traveler said...

Good Friday morning to you, Antonia !
My parents would love this - I'm going to pass the lamb recipe along to my Mom :)

Amanda at Little Foodies said...

I'm now wondering how big your freezer is, hiding 2 racks of lamb, I think I want your freezer. This sounds really good - I love harissa and North African flavours.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the recipe. Sounds terrific!

A little recommendation, I found these to be so delicious and useful in my kitchen:



Beth (jamandcream) said...

You were in Exeter!!! Hubby works in Exeter and we only live 50 minutes away!! If you come to Exeter again let me know!!! Lamb sounds fantastic x x

Anonymous said...

Beautiful dish :)! Funny, I've never cooked lamb traditionally, it always seems to make its way into a stew for me :).

Valerie Harrison (bellini) said...

Very creative Antonia to add a spicy combination for roasting your lamb.

Anonymous said...

We've been eating rather too much lamb lately but I do love it, it's so versatile. This is a lovely way to prepare it.

test it comm said...

This lamb dinner sounds really good. I like the use of the harissa

Joie de vivre said...

I love that last photo! How ingenious to use harissa on the lamb. I bet it is amazing!

Astra Libris said...

Oh my, your rack of lamb sounds absolutely scrumptious... What a wonderful surprise to find tucked away in your freezer! :-)

Trekkie said...

I just got 'Moroccan Modern" out of the library yesterday. It must be THE cooking style for the new year.

David Hall said...

Hi Antonia, anything with the heavenly blend of warming North African spices works for me, delicious!


Peter M said...

A nice spice combo, nothing too busy and cooked to a lovely pink.

aforkfulofspaghetti said...

Yum! I think this is one of the nicest ways to do lamb, but then I'm very partial to those Middle Eastern flavours and aromas...

Abitofafoodie said...

Annie - I hope your mother loves the recipe!

Amanda - not that big actually. Just very full and cluttered!

John - thanks, those look great.

Beth - yes I was there very briefly for work. Not there very often sadly but will be sure to let you know next time!

Sophie - lamb is such a favourite of mine and I love to eat it in almost any form.

Val - I think lamb takes spices so well, don't you?

Ginger - I agree - so versatile. I love it almost however it is cooked.

Kevin - I only discovered harissa fairly recently and love the flavour. Particularly good with lamb, I find.

Joie de Vivre - thank you! I'm craving this dish again now actually.

Astra Libris - yes, I was very pleased to find it in there. Think I should take a closer look at what is hidden in there!

Lynn - that sounds like a great book. I look forward to seeing some morrocan influence in your recipes soon! I love the flavours.

David - love your new picture - very cute!!

Peter - yes, I like my lamb pink. Now as rare as I like my beef, but definitely nice and pink.

Aforkful - me too. The kitchen always smells so inviting when Moroccan food is on the go.

Rosie said...

Oh my goodness Antonia, your rack of lamb sounds absolutely gorgeous!!

Rosie x

Anonymous said...

Have you ever made your own Harissa? Maybe you could post something up about this?

Ollie said...

Stumbled upon this one by Googling, Antonia - will cook it tonight!


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