Rack of Lamb with Garlic

Meat cooked on the bone is better than meat cooked in fillets. The bones stretch the meat so that it doesn’t shrivel in the heat and the little bits of fat surrounding the bone help to baste and moisten the meat as it cooks. However, I generally carve cooked meat from the bone before serving so that the plate contains only what is meant to be eaten and not some graveyard of animal skeletons. The one exception is rack of lamb, for the nuggets of meat along and between the bones are among the sweetest and tastiest you can find.

Ingredients

  • 24 cloves wet or new season garlic
  • 4 racks of lamb
  • a little olive oil, for frying and brushing
  • 1 shallot, peeled and quartered
  • 100 ml (fl oz/scant ½ cup) chicken stock salt

For the Baste

  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons chopped parsley
  • 6 basil leaves
  • 1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus extra for seasoning

Method

Boil the cloves of garlic in a pan of water until they are soft.

Meanwhile, trim the membrane and fat from the racks of lamb – you should be left with bare meat and bones with only a fine coating of fat. Fry the trimmings with the shallot until brown, then deglaze the pan with the stock to make a good gravy base. Transfer the liquid to a jug or bowl and clean out the frying pan.

To make the baste, blend the olive oil, parsley, basil, lemon zest and pepper in a blender.

Heat the oven to 200°C (400°F/Gas 6) and, on the stovetop, reheat the frying pan. Season the racks with salt and pepper and brush with olive oil. Sear the racks quickly on each side in the hot pan, then put them and the poached garlic in a roasting tray. Roast for 20 minutes for pink, longer for well-done.

Lift the meat from the roasting tray and deglaze the tray with the gravy stock made earlier. Bring to the boil and let this sauce reduce a little. Meanwhile, paint the herb and oil baste over the racks. Sieve the sauce over the racks of lamb and serve.

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