Grilled Lamb with Couscous Salad

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You could use any one of three cuts for this dish: a leg, boned and butterflied; a rack (in which case it should be roasted rather than grilled): or, my preferred option, fillet of best end (long cut). This is a good choice when the lamb has grown up a bit and is no longer quite such a baby (what they mysteriously call 'hoggit' in the North of England). The cut consists of the 'eye', which runs from the neck (the scrag end) through to the loin,. Ask for the bones and trimmings if you want to make lamb stock, otherwise don’t worry about throwing them away. Much better to do so immediately than bag and freeze to discard at a later date.

The couscous flavoured with mint, garlic, lemon juice and oil is a very Middle-Eastern salad, and a perfect accompaniment to the lamb.

Ingredients

  • 2 whole lamb neck fillets, boned out
  • 450g/1 lb instant couscous
  • 575ml/1 pt boiling water
  • 3 lemons
  • 300ml/½pt olive oil
  • 1 red onion
  • 1 red sweet pepper
  • 1 yellow sweet pepper
  • bunch of mint
  • salt and pepper

For the Marinade

  • large sprig of rosemary
  • small bunch of thyme
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 4 tbsp sunflower oil
  • 3 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp mignonette pepper

Utensils

  • 2 large bowls (heatproof one for the couscous)
  • Hibachi-type barbecue or ridged grilling pan
  • tongs

Method

Mise en Place

First prepare the marinade: pull the leaves off the rosemary and chop them coarsely with the thyme. Cut the garlic into thin slices. Mix the oils, brush the meat all over with them and put into a dish. Strew with the herbs, garlic, salt and pepper. Pour over the rest of the oil and refrigerate overnight, or for at least 8 hours. If you can, turn it from time to time. Remove from the fridge in plenty of time to allow it to return to room temperature before grilling.

Make the couscous: put it in a large heatproof bowl and stir continuously while pouring over the boiling water. Go on stirring for at least 3 minutes until cool, otherwise the grains will lump together. Juice the lemons and stir the lemon juice into the couscous, followed by the olive oil, continuing to stir gently. All the liquid will be absorbed in due course. Leave to stand while you chop the onion and peppers into small dice. Incorporate them into the couscous. Coarsely chop the mint leaves and add these. Season well with salt and pepper. Refrigerate briefly before serving, but do not chill too long or the oil will solidify.

Preheat the grilling pan or light the barbecue well in advance.

Cooking

When ready, sear the drained meat all over before reducing the heat (or moving the meat farther from the ashes) and cook, turning frequently, for 15 minutes. It should be pink and juicy in the centre. Leave to stand for 10 minutes, then carve into strips.

Serving

Heap the couscous in the centre of a large warmed serving plate and arrange the lamb around it. Spoon and scrape any juices from the carving over the lamb and serve immediately.

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