The best end of lamb is positioned between the saddle of lamb and the middle neck. It is one of the most popular cuts of lamb. At most butchers they are sold ‘French trimmed’, which means they are cut and cleaned to show the individual bones – the best way to buy them. You can cook them as racks of lamb or cut them into individual lamb cutlets. Another alternative is to remove the meat from the bones so that you are left with two fillets, which is what you want here. These can now be halved to give you four portions. The fat will just tear off leaving the meat clean.
Pre-heat the oven to 220°C/425°F/gas 7.
Slice the aubergines into six pieces each, sprinkle with some salt and leave them to drain in a colander for about 30 minutes.
To make the Provençale onions, heat the olive oil in a pan and add the chopped onions and garlic. Cover with a lid and cook over a low heat for 5 minutes. Remove the lid and add the chopped herbs and sliced mushrooms. Continue to cook for 5–6 minutes. Add the white wine, increase the heat and boil to reduce until almost dry. Add the tomato coulis or purée and bring to the simmer. Season with salt and pepper. The sauce should be fairly thick. Keep the sauce warm.
Pre-heat a small roasting tray and add the dripping or fat. Season the lamb with salt and pepper and fry in the fat until coloured on all sides, then put the lamb in the pre-heated oven and roast for about 10–12 minutes. After this cooking time, the meat will just give when pressed between thumb and forefinger; at this stage it will be medium rare to medium. Remove the lamb from the oven and leave to rest in a warm place for 10 minutes before slicing.
While the lamb is resting, lightly rinse the salt from the aubergines and dry on a cloth. Heat the olive oil in a frying-pan and cook the aubergines until golden on both sides. Drain well on kitchen paper. Heat the tomato and onion gravy through gently.
Lay the aubergine slices on to hot plates, three slices per portion, and spoon the Provençale onions on top. Carve the lamb lengthways, allowing five to six slices per fillet. Overlap the slices on the onions and pour the tomato and onion gravy around.
© 1994 Gary Rhodes. All rights reserved.