Autumn lamb has a more intense flavour, so it works well with strong spices, writes Tom Kitchin

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It is often thought that lamb is at its best in spring, but it is also fantastic as we approach autumn. Indeed, today is part of the “Love Scotch Lamb” weekend. Autumn lamb tends to have a more intense flavour, so it works well with equally strong spices and seasoning like garlic, rosemary and fennel. Scotch lamb – which is born, reared, slaughtered and dressed in Scotland – is of the best quality and has the finest flavour. It is not an expensive ingredient to cook with, especially if you try some of the less-popular cuts. The joy in cooking lamb for me is its versatility. Using different cuts gives a range of flavours and recipe ideas. One of my favourite dishes to cook at home is this rack of lamb served with braised shoulder of lamb – the flavours of the different cuts highlight the varying tastes and textures of the meat. Matched with spring onions and garlic potatoes, the dish is packed with flavour. There are a number of steps in preparing this recipe, but it’s simpler than it first looks and is worth the effort as it is bound to impress friends and family. When buying lamb, look for lean cuts with firm, creamy, white fat and avoid any that are excessively fatty or with fat that looks crumbly, as it won’t be as fresh as it should be. The important thing to remember if you are cooking with different cuts is that each will need to be cooked differently to get the best flavour and texture. Braising the shoulder is a lovely way to get tender, moist, delicious meat. Leaner cuts like rack of lamb or leg of lamb are best pan fried or cooked more quickly in the oven. Make sure the meat is still a little pink when you serve it or it will be dry and tough. Sweetbreads and other offal from the lamb are best cooked quickly to keep them tender. However you cook your lamb, the new autumn season is a great chance to try something new.

Ingredients

  • For the rack of lamb:
  • 2 lamb racks
  • salt and pepper
  • tbsp olive oil
  • For the shoulder of lamb:
  • 1 x 800g shoulder of lamb, boned (ask the butcher to de-bone the shoulder as it can be quite tricky)
  • 500ml of either lamb or chicken stock
  • mirepoix: 150g carrots, 100g onion, 50g celery chopped
  • 60g butter, diced
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp fennel seeds
  • 4 sprigs fresh rosemary, chopped
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • salt and pepper
  • For the potatoes:
  • 300g new baby potatoes
  • 60g butter, diced
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1 sprig rosemary
  • salt and pepper
  • To serve:
  • 8 sprigs of spring onion, wilted

Method

To prepare the shoulder of lamb, preheat the oven to 200C/Gas Mark 6. Open out the lamb shoulder and cover the meat with the cumin, fennel seeds, half the rosemary, salt and pepper. Roll into a large sausage and tie with string. Heat the oil in a heavy-bottomed frying pan, add the lamb and brown until golden all over. Set aside.

Sweat the mirepoix until softened then place in an ovenproof dish. Add the garlic cloves and sprinkle with the rest of the rosemary and butter. Put the lamb in the dish and cover with stock before roasting for 3-4 hours. Remove and leave everything for 15 minutes.

To cook the rack of lamb:

Heat a large heavy-bottomed frying pan with a tablespoon of olive oil. Season the lamb with salt and pepper, and brown them in the pan on a high heat for about 2-3 minutes on each side until golden. Transfer to a roasting dish and roast in the oven for another 6-8 minutes. Take the lamb out of the oven and leave to rest for 5 minutes on a cooling rack.

To prepare the potatoes:

Cut the potatoes in half and place in a non-stick frying pan. Add enough water to cover the potatoes. Add the butter, crushed clove of garlic, salt and rosemary. Place a lid of tin foil over the pan and put on a high heat.

Cook until all the liquid reduces – don’t be scared here and don’t shake the pan or you won’t get the right results. As the water disappears, the butter will start to caramelise. The secret is to let the butter caramelise around the potatoes until they are golden all over. Remove from heat and allow to cool.

To serve:

Remove the string from the shoulder of lamb and carve the meat into slices, then carve the rack of lamb. Assemble 4 or 5 potatoes on each plate, then place the lamb over the top, adding the spring onions. Pour the remaining cooking juices over the top.

About The Author

Tom Kitchin

Tom Kitchin is a Scottish chef and owner of restaurant The Kitchin, where he became the youngest winner of a Michelin star. He has previously worked with several Michelin starred chefs including Alain Ducasse and Pierre Koffmann.

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About The Author

Tom Kitchin

Tom Kitchin is a Scottish chef and owner of restaurant The Kitchin, where he became the youngest winner of a Michelin star. He has previously worked with several Michelin starred chefs including Alain Ducasse and Pierre Koffmann.