Tender lamb rack, subtle spicing and a nice twitch of heat
This really is a deceptively simple little dish. Into the oven it goes, and by the time you have had a glass of wine and made the salsa you are ready to go. Ask your butcher to French trim the racks—they look prettier and are nice and easy to eat with your fingers, if you like.
1 hot red chilli, chopped finely
A few sprigs of fresh thyme
Zest of 1 lemon
2 tbsp za’atar
120ml olive oil
2 racks of lamb, about 14 chops in all
For the salsa:
4 tbsp capers, chopped if large
16 cherry tomatoes, quartered
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped or crushed
A large handful of fresh parsley, chopped
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
In a bowl large enough to hold the lamb, mix the chilli, thyme, lemon zest and za’atar together with the oil. Rub the marinade into the lamb, season with pepper, and leave for about an hour.
Preheat the oven to 200C. Heat a skillet or a frying pan with a metal handle over a medium hob. Season the lamb with salt, then sear its fat until golden.
Turn the racks flesh side down and roast in the oven for about 20 mins. Remove from the oven and set aside to rest for at least another 15-20 mins while you make the salsa.
Mix all the salsa ingredients together in a bowl and season with salt and pepper to taste.
When the lamb has rested, carve the racks into chops and serve, drizzled with the pan drippings, with a generous helping of salsa on the side and some griddled courgettes.
ALTERNATIVE: Instead of the salsa, you could make a sauce: pour any excess fat from the pan and deglaze with 150ml red wine, scraping up any cooking residue from the bottom of the pan. Add another 250ml lamb or veal stock and reduce by two thirds. Enrich the sauce with 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil and drizzle over and around the carved lamb.