Guard of Honour

A guard of honour is no more than two French-trimmed racks of lamb cooked together standing upright, with the cutlet bones interleaved and presented after carving with a herb and mushroom stuffing. The bones should be scraped bare and any excess fat removed if the covering over the meat is too thick. Cut a neat diamond pattern into the fat and season generously with salt and pepper, pressing it in with your fingers. Serve the lamb with French beans or mashed potatoes.

Ingredients

  • 2 racks of lamb, trimmed (as above)
  • 2 slices of white bread, crusts removed and cut into cubes a little milk
  • 60 g/ 2 oz pancetta or streaky bacon, cut into strips
  • 30 g/ 1 oz butter
  • 1 onion, finely diced
  • 225 g/ 8 oz flat-cap mushrooms, cut into small pieces
  • grated zest of ½ lemon
  • salt and pepper
  • ¼ tsp chilli flakes
  • 1 glass of red wine
  • 300 ml/ ½ pt strong chicken stock (or lamb stock if available)
  • 2 tbsp chopped parsley
  • 1 tbsp chopped chives

Method

Preheat the oven to 250°C/475°F/ gas 9. Push the racks together by crossing the bones and stand them upright in a roasting pan.

In a small bowl, moisten the cubes of bread with a little milk and then squeeze them dry. Reserve.

Fry the pancetta or bacon gently until the fat runs. Sweat the butter and the onion in it for 15 minutes over a low heat, until soft and translucent. Add the mushrooms and continue to cook for a further 5–10 minutes. Add the grated lemon zest, stir in the bread, season with salt and pepper and the chilli flakes, then remove from the heat.

Roast the lamb for 15–20 minutes, depending on how pink you like your lamb. Remove from the pan and leave to rest for 15 minutes, covered, in a warm place. Pour off excess fat from the roasting pan, put the pan over a high heat and add the red wine. Reduce, scraping up any caramelized bits to incorporate. Add the stock and boil to reduce by half. Taste and season.

About 5 minutes before serving, return the stuffing to a low heat to warm through, stirring in the chopped parsley and chives. Carve the racks across into individual cutlets, putting 3 on each of 4 warmed plates with the stuffing beside them and the gravy poured around.

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