A festive Easter Lamb makes always for a really special treat. It’s a dish to look forward to, as mush as to the holiday itself and the family gathering cheer. Shall we cook a traditional meal or shall we venture into the vast culinary unknown, delighting guests with new taste buds sensations? This classical dilemma always plays into my mind when considering the occasion.
My mind made up, our Easter festive meal draws inspiration from the North African cuisine. A rack of lamb spiced with a magic res el hanout Moroccan spice mix and glazed with pomegranate molasses. What an absolute perfection! The name in Arabic means “head of the shop” and implies a mixture of the best spices the seller has to offer. Discovering ras el hanout for a first time, I am surprised to learn that it is used in many savory dishes, sometimes rubbed on meat or fish, or stirred into couscous or rice. There is no definitive composition of spices that makes up ras el hanout. Each shop, company, or family may have their own blend. The mixture usually consists of over a dozen spices, in different proportions. Commonly used ingredients include cardamom, cumin, clove, cinnamon, nutmeg, mace, allspice, dry ginger, chili peppers, coriander seed, peppercorn, sweet and hot paprika, fenugreek, and dry turmeric.
What I love about the lamb, is that the res el hanout does not overpower the meat, but it only subtly enhances the flavour in a very pleasing and delicious manner. The pomegranate molasses brings a touch of sweetness that marries all the flavours together. Served with golden hash brown potatoes, buttery green asparagus and purple chicory and radish sprouts you will not wish for a better festive meal.
Serves 4 people
- 12 hash brown potatoes
- 2 tsp ras el hanout
- 8 tbsp olive oil
- 2 racks of lamb, French trimmed
- 1 tbsp pomegranate molasses
- purple chicory
- 2 handfuls of small green asparagus
- purple radish sprouts
- 1 tbsp butter
- black pepper
1. Pre-heat oven to 200C. Heat 1 tbsp of oil in a frying pan and, one at a time, fry the fat side of the lamb well until dark brown, then remove from the pan. Season the lamb fat with salt, black pepper and ras el hanout, then drizzle or brush over the pomegranate molasses. Put the lamb, fat-side up in the oven. Cook for 20 mins for rare, 25 mins for pink and 30 mins for well done. Remove and leave to rest for 10 mins.
2. In the meantime, in a large frying pan, heat 1 tbsp of oil and add the hash brown potatoes. Cook for 15 min, turning several times until both sides are golden brown.
3. In another frying pan melt and heat the butter. Trim the dry ends of the green asparagus and add them to the butter. Cook turning them around for about 10 minutes until they become slightly soft. Season with salt and black pepper.
4. Cut the lamb racks in pieces. Plate by arranging lamb, hash brown potatoes, purple chicory, green asparagus and purple radish sprouts and drizzle over a table spoon of pomegranate molasses.