Lamb Racks with Matariki 2009 Quintology
2 x trimmed 8-bone racks of lamb
2 tablespoons dijon mustard
1 cup (70g) breadcrumbs
1 garlic clove, roughly chopped
50g mixed fresh herbs (such as thyme, flat-leaf parsley or rosemary), leaves picked, finely chopped
Finely grated zest of 1 lemon
Wilted seasonal greens, to serve
A knob of unsalted butter, plus extra to grease
1 large red onion, thinly sliced
2-3 thyme sprigs, leaves picked
300ml double cream
Whole nutmeg, to grate
2 bay leaves
2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
200g baby spinach
150g Comte cheese, (see note)grated
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Preheat the oven to 180°C. Start by making the potatoes. Melt the butter in a medium frypan over a low heat, then add the onion and thyme and cook, stirring occasionally, for 15 minutes or until sweet and soft.
Meanwhile, gently heat the milk and cream in a large saucepan over medium heat, seasoning with salt, pepper, a good grating of nutmeg and the bay leaves. Slice the potatoes by hand or on a mandoline to 3mm thick, dropping them into the milk as you go. It's important not to soak the potatoes in water beforehand as you need the starch to thicken the cream. Cook the potatoes for 5–10 minutes until just softened, then discard the bay leaves.
When the onions are soft, add the garlic and cook for 2 minutes or until golden, then gently stir them into the potato mixture, along with the spinach and a handful of the grated cheese.
Butter an ovenproof dish, then carefully tip in the potatoes, arranging the top layer neatly. Sprinkle over remaining cheese, then bake for 45 minutes or until golden. Increase the oven to 220°C.
Season the lamb racks well with salt and pepper and drizzle with olive oil. Heat a large frypan over high heat and, in batches if necessary, add the lamb and brown well on all sides for 6 minutes. Transfer to a plate and cool slightly.
Using the back of a spoon, spread the mustard evenly over the seared fat. In a bowl, mix together the breadcrumbs, garlic, herbs and lemon zest with a little oil, then pat onto the mustard so the crumbs stick. Transfer the racks to a baking tray and roast for 15–20 minutes for medium-rare, or a little longer if you prefer.
Allow the lamb to rest for 5–10 minutes before carving into chops, then serve with the potatoes and greens.
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