Arabian Spiced Rack of Lamb with Couscous
A rack of lamb is absolutely perfect for serving two people, allowing three or four cutlets per person. This recipe has wonderful warm spicy Moroccan flavours, perfect for a romantic cosy dinner for two. Spices also always raise the endorphin levels, so you feel energized! This recipe contains harissa, a versatile and very hot North African paste that can be added to dishes or served separately in a bowl on the table. It is available to buy in many shops but for a delicious fresh flavour you can make your own. It will keep in the fridge in a covered jar for a few weeks. If you are concerned about the heat of the paste, use milder chillies.
Harissa Paste Makes about 150ml (1/2 pint)
25g (1ozs) dried large red chillies
2 tablespoons coriander seeds
1 generous tablespoon cumin seeds
2 cloves garlic, peeled
1 teaspoons salt
60ml (2fl ozs) olive oil
¼ teaspoon ground paprika
For the Rack of Lamb
1 prepared rack of lamb (2-3 cutlets per person depending on their size and your appetite!)
salt and freshly ground black pepper
For the Couscous
100g (4ozs) couscous
2 tablespoons olive oil
150ml (1/4 pint) light chicken stock or vegetable stock
1 tablespoon chopped parsley
2 tablespoons chopped mint
½ red onion, peeled and finely chopped
50g (2ozs) flaked almonds, toasted
Greek yoghurt, to serve
To make the Harissa Paste, split the chillies in half lengthways, remove and discard the seeds and soften the chillies in boiling water for 5 minutes. Meanwhile dry-fry the coriander and cumin seeds in a frying pan on a medium to high heat for about 1 minute, tossing regularly, until the spices just begin to smoke and toast, then grind in a spice grinder or mortar and pestle. Place the garlic, salt, ground spices, and the drained red chillies in a food processor and whiz to a paste, slowly adding the olive oil until well combined. Set aside.
Preheat the oven to 220ºC / gas 7.
Next, prepare the rack of lamb. Score the fat lightly in a criss-cross pattern, but without cutting through to the meat. Place the lamb in a roasting tray, spread a generous tablespoon of the harissa paste over the fat and press it down onto the fat with your hands or a spoon. Roast for 20 minutes for rare to medium, 25 minutes for well done for a small rack, or 30-32 minutes for a larger rack. After 10 minutes, cover the rack with a sheet of tin foil to prevent the harissa paste from burning.
Meanwhile prepare the couscous. Put it into a bowl, rub in the olive oil so that the grains are coated, and pour over the hot stock. Stir and then put a plate or saucepan lid on top and leave to stand for 5 minutes, until the couscous has absorbed all the stock. Add the parsley, mint, onion, and most of the toasted flaked almonds, stir well and season.
Once the lamb is cooked, turn off the oven and leave the meat to rest for 5-10 minutes. Carve it by cutting through the meat between the bones to give each person 2-3 cutlets (depending on the cutlet size). Spoon the couscous on to the warmed main course plates, and arrange the lamb cutlets sitting on top. Scatter with the remaining toasted flaked almonds, and serve with a spoonful of Greek yoghurt, if you wish.