Who can resist a lovely fresh, lean and tender New Zealand rack of lamb, simply seasoned and roasted or pan fried with a handful of roast potatoes and a bright green salad? Quick, easy, healthy and delicious. Inspired by a recipe from Nigella's most recent cookbook Nigellissima that I picked up at her book launch when she was last in Toronto, I knew I should give it a try. And I'm glad I did. As she says, "If you put your halved baby potatoes on to steam before you get started on the lamb chops, you can fairly effortlessly rely on a proper meat-and-potato supper in around 20 minutes. Steaming the potatoes is, for me, an important stipulation: a steamed spud is a sweet spud; more than that, cooked this way, rather than by boiling, the potatoes are dry when done, which makes them easy to fry to crisp bronzedness". Bronzedness? I don't know if that's a word, but it's certainly a fabulous recipe, and one that I will definitely be making again, if not for the spuds alone!
Nigella's Italian-inspired cookbook, Nigellissima
One frenched New Zealand Rack of Lamb
The rack is cut into chops and marinated in olive oil, dried mint,
celery salt and crushed chilli flakes
The white new potatoes are halved length-wise and steamed for 15 minutes
while the lamb is being marinating and subsequently cooked
The lamb chops are placed in the non-stick frying pan and cooked over medium heat
for 2-4 minutes, depending on their size
Being small lamb chops, I pan-fried them for just 2 minutes per side
and they were lovely and pink inside
Once the lamb was cooked, the steamed new potatoes are poured into the frying pan
with the residual oil and spices and cooked for 3-4 minutes on each side
The potatoes are tumbled and turned in the hot, spiced fat for even bronzing
A platter is prepared with a layer of wild arugula, onto which the lamb chops and potatoes
are placed and garnished with chopped fresh mint, Maldon salt, fresh ground pepper,
shaved parmigiano and slivered kumquats
Recipe adapted from Nigella Lawson - Nigellissima
1 lb baby new potatoes, washed and halved but not peeled
3 tbsp olive oil
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1 tsp dried mint
1/2 tsp celery salt
1 rack of lamb, cut into single chops
3 1/2 oz wild arugula
1 tsp Maldon sea salt flakes & black pepper
1 tbsp kumquats, slivered, for garnish
1 tbsp chopped fresh mint, plus some whole sprigs for garnish
Shaved parmigiano, for garnish
Put the halved new potatoes on to steam. Place the lamb chops in a dish that will fit them all in a single layer and drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with red pepper flakes, mint and celery salt. Turn until well coated, and leave to marinate for 10 minutes.
Heat a large heavy non-stick frying pan that will fit the chops in one layer, and cook on medium heat for 2 to 3 minutes, depending on the size of the rack. While the chops cook, check that the potatoes are tender, which they should be by now, in which case, turn the heat off under the steamer. Turn the chops with tongs and cook a further 2-3 minutes.
Arrange the arugula on a large platter and when lamb is done, but still juicily pink, arrange on top of the greens. Meanwhile, tip the steamed potatoes into the pan and fry for 3-4 minutes, then turn them over and fry for another 3 minutes, shaking the pan every now and again to make them tumble and turn in the hot, spiced fat. Using a slotted spatula, transfer potatoes to the platter and season with a flurry of Maldon salt, pepper, and a garnish of mint, slivered kumquats and some shaved parmigiano — Tutti a tavola a mangiare!