Herb-crusted rack of lamb with lamb faggots
Best end of lamb is rather an expensive cut at this time of year, depending on whether your butcher is selling you spring lamb or the old season's lamb.
Serving it with these delicious faggots, however, means that you can even out your costs a bit and there is a lovely contrast in flavours between the faggot and the rack.
1 x 8 bone rack of lamb, French trimmed
1tbsp Tewkesbury or grain mustard
20g butter, melted
2tbsp fresh white breadcrumbs
1tbsp chopped parsley
A few sprigs of soft thyme, with the leaves removed
For the faggots
120g lamb's liver, coarsely minced or chopped in a food processor
160g lamb breast mince with a good proportion of fat
1 small onion, peeled, halved and finely chopped
1 small clove of garlic, peeled and crushed
One-third of a teaspoon of ground mace
3 leaves of sage, chopped
1tsp chopped thyme
Vegetable or corn oil for frying
60g fresh white breadcrumbs
100-120g caul fat (lamb's or pig's), optional
For the sauce
2 shallots, peeled and finely chopped
A good knob of butter
1tsp tomato purée
100ml red wine
250ml beef stock
To make the faggots, cook the onions on a low heat in a tablespoon of vegetable oil with the garlic, mace, sage and thyme for 4 or 5 minutes. Remove from the heat; cool. Mix the liver and minced lamb with the breadcrumbs and cooked onion mixture; season. Divide the mixture into 4 balls and refrigerate for 30-40 minutes. Preheat the oven to 220C/gas mark 7.
Meanwhile, to make the sauce, melt the butter in a thick-bottomed pan and gently cook the shallots for 2-3 minutes until lightly coloured. Add the flour and tomato purée and stir well over a low heat for a minute.
Gradually add the red wine, stirring to avoid lumps forming, and then gradually add the beef stock. Bring to the boil and simmer very gently for about 20-25 minutes, giving the occasional whisk, until the sauce has reduced by about two-thirds and thickened. Cover with a lid or clingfilm.
If you are not using caul fat, wrap each faggot in clingfilm a couple of times and steam them over a pan of simmering water in a steamer or a colander for 20 minutes, then leave to cool and remove the clingfilm.
If you are using caul fat, wash under cold water for about 10 minutes and pat dry on some kitchen paper. Lay it out on a table; cut it into 12 rough squares, enough to encase each ball a couple of times; then carefully wrap them up.
Season the lamb, heat a roasting tray on the stove top with a little vegetable oil and brown the lamb on all sides on a high heat. Put the faggots in the roasting tin with the lamb, fat side down, and roast for 10-12 minutes, basting every so often.
While the lamb is in the oven, mix the melted butter with the breadcrumbs, parsley and thyme and season. Remove the lamb from the tray, turn it over with the bones now facing down and spread the fat with the mustard. Press the breadcrumb mixture firmly on to the mustard with your fingers and return to the oven for another 8-10 minutes, keeping the lamb nice and pink.
Leave the lamb to rest for 5 minutes and keep the faggots warm. Heat up the sauce, place the faggots on warmed serving plates, then carefully cut the lamb between the bones, place 2 pieces on each plate and pour on the sauce.
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