Rack of lamb with ‘spring on a plate’

Preparation time
30 mins to 1 hour

Cooking time
30 mins to 1 hour

Serves
Serves 4


By Julius Roberts
From Saturday Kitchen



Ingredients

For the vignarola (‘spring on a plate’):

  • Broad beans (from 800g/1lb 12oz in their pods): 250g/9oz
  • Olive oil: 5 tbsp (plus extra to serve)
  • Large onion (finely chopped): 1
  • Garlic cloves (thinly sliced): 3
  • Asparagus (tips left whole, woody ends removed, and stalks cut into chunks): 250g/9oz
  • White wine: 200ml/7fl oz
  • Frozen peas (or 400g/14oz fresh peas, podded): 200g/7oz
  • Little Gem lettuce (roughly chopped): 1
  • Fresh mint (finely chopped, bunch): As needed
  • Fresh basil (finely chopped, bunch): As needed
  • Unwaxed lemons (zest and juice): 2
  • Ricotta: 250g/9oz

For the rack of lamb:

  • Rack of lamb (fat scored): 1
  • Garlic cloves: 3
  • Olive oil: 3 tbsp
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper: To taste

For the anchovy sauce:

  • Fresh rosemary sprigs (leaves picked): 3
  • Salted anchovies: 12
  • Olive oil: 4 tbsp
  • Lemon (juice only): ½

Alternative Ingredients

Alternatives for ricotta

  1. Cottage Cheese:
    • Cottage cheese has a similar moisture content and mild taste to ricotta. Blend it in a food processor or blender to achieve a smoother texture. Use it in lasagna, pancakes, quick bread, or muffins
  2. Greek Yogurt:
    • Tangier than ricotta, Greek yogurt is creamy and works well in dips or baked goods like pancakes or sheet cakes. Its thickness makes it a good substitute for imparting creaminess in sauces

Method

  1. To make the vignarola, bring a saucepan of salted water to the boil and chuck in the broad beans. Cook for 2–3 minutes, then drain and immediately plunge into ice-cold water to stop them cooking further. Pinch the bright green beans from their skins and set aside.
  2. Pour the olive oil into a wide saucepan, add the onion and garlic, season well with a pinch of salt and cook over a gentle heat for 10 minutes or so, being careful not to colour the garlic, until the onion is sweet and tender.
  3. Add all the asparagus with a little splash of wine. Keep stirring and cooking for a few minutes, until the asparagus is nearly but not quite tender, then add the peas. Again, season as you go and add a splash of wine here and there to keep the pan juicy. Don’t overdo it – you want to keep the pan from drying out, but you don’t want it too wet either. Keep tasting as you go and check that the texture of the veg feels right. The peas won’t take long, so keep trying until they’re ready.
  4. Once the peas are ready, add the lettuce – you want it to gently collapse but still retain a nice crunch. Turn the heat off just before the lettuce is ready, as the residual heat will continue to cook things further.
  5. Add the broad beans and most of the herbs, holding back some for serving. Grate in the zest of 1 lemon, stir, then have a taste and adjust the seasoning as necessary.
  6. Sprinkle the lamb generously with salt and leave on a plate to come to room temperature while you make the ricotta.
  7. Put the ricotta into a bowl and whisk well until it becomes light and fluffy. Grate in the zest of the second lemon, add a pinch of salt and the juice of half a lemon. Whisk to combine, then taste to check the seasoning.
  8. Spoon a bit of the ricotta onto each plate and spread it slightly, then top with the warm vignarola and finish with a drizzle of olive oil, some more herbs and a squeeze of lemon. Set aside while you cook the lamb.
  9. To make the rosemary and anchovy sauce, put the rosemary leaves, anchovies and olive oil into a high-speed blender and blend until smooth. Taste, then add a squeeze of lemon, blend again and have another taste – keep adjusting the lemon juice until you get the balance right.
  10. When the salt has penetrated the lamb, preheat the oven to 200C/180C Fan/Gas 6. Get a large frying pan hot and add the lamb, skin-side down. Fry slowly until the fat renders and becomes crisp and caramelised – you want a deep brown colour. Turn over and briefly brown the other side, then place on a baking tray and transfer to the oven.
  11. For lamb that’s pink in the middle, cook for 10–20 minutes or until the centre of the meat is 50C, then remove and leave to rest for 10 minutes with a bit of kitchen foil on top. By the time the lamb has rested, the internal temperature will have increased to 55C, which is perfect.
  12. Carve up the lamb – hopefully it should be beautifully pink – and finish with the rosemary and anchovy sauce. Serve with the vignarola on the side.
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