Why bother with bones in lamb?

Chris Duckham eschews the traditional rack of lamb in favour of a boneless loin for his summer dinner.

During the summer months I find that lamb as a meat really comes into its own and, indeed, there is a natural and welcome seasonal change from the venison to lamb on our menus as the days lengthen and the setting Sutherland sun swings towards the north.

What I have never been able to get to grips with though is using the traditional cut of rack of lamb, which is such a customary restaurant staple at this time of year. Cooking a rack whole on the bone, then cutting it into what is in effect chops and presenting it with a flourish strikes me as downright peculiar. Who wants to be confronted by a plateful of long curved bones? Surely there must be a better way of serving this quintessentially British meat?

Just order boneless loin of lamb from your butcher. It will cost a little more but this is one of the best cuts of meat that money can buy. We are serving this with a fragrant herb crust redolent of the aromas of the northern summer. Having anchovy in the mixture goes wonderfully with lamb and adds just the right amount of background complexity.

Lamb loin with fragnany herb crust

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 190 degC.
  2. Make breadcrumbs from the brioche in a food processor. Finely chop parsley, basil and tarragon. Add these and the thyme to the breadcrumbs.
  3. Add the anchovy fillets and two thirds of the olive oil and blend for a few seconds more. Season to taste.
  4. Heat the rest of the olive oil in an ovenproof skillet and sear the lamb loins over high heat until well browned.
  5. With a small spoon press the crust firmly onto the top of the lamb loins and put in the oven for five minutes.
  6. Remove from the oven and leave to rest in a warm place for four minutes.
  7. Slice the lamb loins to avoid disturbing the crust and serve with potatoes mashed with goats cheese and a selection of vegetables or a fine salad.

Ingredients - for four people
700g loin of lamb
60g stale brioche
30g flat leaf parsley
10g basil
10g tarragon
20g wild (or cultivated) thyme
Two tinned anchovy fillets
About 50ml olive oil
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper

Dr Duckham is a GP in Tongue and Armadale, Sutherland and runs Restaurant Cote du Nord, Kirtomy, Sutherland. Email comments to GPlife@haymarket.com

And for the wine
Decanter magazine advises: Lamb works wonderfully with most red wines but the robust fruit of Spanish wines (especially Rioja) from the Tempranillo grape will also be strong enough to compliment the powerful flavour of the anchovies in this recipe. Try: Marques de la Concordia Tempranillo 2004 £5.99 from Oddbins and Tesco.

Decanter judges say: 'Rich dark fruits and sweet vanilla and spice oak with banana'. Bodegas Palacio Glorioso 2001 £9.99 from Oddbins.

Decanter judges say: 'Classy youthful spicy fruit. Modern style, lots of fruit and oats.'

Find more award winning wine and suggestions at decanter.com.

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