Tuesday, 16 October 2012

Crusting it up without breadcrumbs: Rack of lamb with a Moroccan bean crust

After spending the majority of the last five years flicking through various celebrity cookbooks and looking longingly at stuff I can't eat, one gluten-free alternative I have always been desperate to find is how to make a 'crust' on a piece of meat without using breadcrumbs. Online resources suggest polenta as an alternative but I can't eat the stuff without thinking of something unnamed and sloppy dumped on a primary-school plate. Semolina, I think. Well, I'm sure there's plenty out there who love it, but I think it's minging. And so does George. So, nuh-nuh-na-nuh-nuh. 

Avoiding the temptation to regress any further into the playground, I tried to think of something that would stick but keep its shape on the meat, even when carving. Randomly opening kitchen cupboard doors, I spotted a tin of borlotti beans that had snuck its way to the back in hope of being forgotten. Ah ha, I thought, gotcha. A quick trot across the road to the shops found me in the possession of a lovely rack of lamb and a few vegetables, and 45 minutes later, voila! Celebrity chefs, eat your heart out. 

George likes his lamb rare, and yes Mum, that is cooked!

Rack of lamb with a Moroccan bean crust

This recipe is served two hungry people and a small giraffe, so double if cooking for four... 

1. Pre-heat the oven to 180c. 
2. Prepare the lamb, if the butcher hasn't done so already - if the skin has been left on the fatty side, take it off but try to leave as much of the fat on as possible, and strip the meat and fat away from the rib bones. I don't usually bother going in between the bones (I think that's the best bit to eat!) but if you're going for Michelin-star presentation, then that's what one is supposed to do.
3. To make the crust mixture, whizz half a tin of drained beans (borlotti, butter bean, cannelini - doesn't matter, as long as they are already soaked and aren't the Heinz variety) together with a clove of garlic, a small shallot, half a fresh chili, 1 tsp of grated ginger, 1/2 tsp of lemon zest, some cumin, pimenton, paprika and white pepper. Or, cheat and use a tagine paste or ras el hanout spice mix, which is what I would have done had I not known I'd probably blog about it.
4. Brown the lamb on both sides for about 2 mins each side, then rest for 5 minutes.
5. After the lamb has rested, spread thinly with the bean paste (I spread mine too thickly as you can see from the picture - it didn't need that much) and pop in the oven. For rare, cook for 5 mins then take out, cover with foil and rest for another 5 mins. For medium, cook for 10 mins and rest for 5. For cremated, pop down to the local fire station and ask to go with them on their next trip.
6. Cut the lamb into one-rib pieces to serve.

Personally, I think this easily stacks up to a breadcrumbed version - the beans give a really earthy flavour which compliments the lamb, especially in winter. You could also use the same basis for a rocket and watercress crust, one using pesto, a garam-masala version, whatever you fancied. 

I served mine this time with some spicy rice (saute shallots and chili in butter before adding cooked rice and seasoning liberally with paprika and black pepper) and some corn-on-the-cob boiled for 20 mins and smothered in more butter and black pepper.

Next time, George says he wants less of the butter as he's on a diet. I told him where to go. If he wants to go back to eating bug-ridden leaves and drinking water from a communal pond, he's welcome to it...

1 comment:

  1. Very funny post. Oh, and the recipe looks good, too. I like stage 4, when you tell the cook to go off and rest for 5 minutes. How sweet of you. xx