Rack of lamb

Rack of lamb with a parsley crust, ratatouille and lamb jus

7:30 Monday morning and I was greeted by a lovely side of lamb. More butchery fun. Some moons ago I butchered a side of pig and a cow quarter at Ginger Pig. It’s play-butchery with a slap-up meal, some wine, and a few take-home meaty treats but I remember the gist and the lamb anatomy is similar. Chef broke down the carcass with gusto—cutting here, sawing there, chop-chop, trim. The neck fillet, a cutlet, a leg steak, a rump steak, the fillet and the sirloin or cannon were cooked up for us to taste and understand the different textures. No photos of the finished articles. They got devoured too quickly. Chef said the belly can be used to make lamb panchetta. I’ve gotta give that a go. Alternatively, the lamb rump can be wrapped in the belly, braised, then pan fried. Definitely another one to try.

Chef gets to grips with the side of lamb

Lamb neck, cutlet, leg, rump, fillet, cannon or the sirloin, and the rack

We had to knock out Carré d’Agneau Rôti et Persillé avec Ratatouille Niçoise or a rack of lamb with a parsley crust and ratatouille. Now ratatouille just doesn’t do it for me. The movie is good but mushed vegetable—meh. I can’t get excited.

Like with the chicken, there was preparation of the lamb in order to maximise flavour, minimise waste, make it look good on the plate and make carving easier. We’re constantly encouraged to be conscious of our trimmings and put them to good use. Fatty bits are rendered down and used to brown the rack. Bones and small offcuts of meat are browned for the jus. Nothing gets wasted. Well, almost true. There’s one large tendon that’s good for nothing. Chef reassured us having experimented previously to find a way to make the tendon edible. The secret to a good carve is to remove the knuckles underneath the rack, in-between the ribs. There should also be no remnants of the chine bone. As expected, the biggest faff was the French trimming but it was much easier than the chicken drumsticks. Clean bones came at the cost of my freshly washed chefs whites.

Again—don’t take your eye off the jus; it must not boil. Rescued by chef in the nick of time. All turned out well in the end with a nice clear jus. In making the jus chef challenged us to think about the ratio of meat trimmings to mirepoix rather than just follow the recipe. A meat jus shouldn’t taste of vegetables. In the practical we had fewer bones available so had to par back on onions, carrots and celery. Resting meat is important and is considered part of the cooking process. A rule of thumb is to rest for half the cooking time. Chef told us to rest the meat further, after carving and before plating up. Good advice.

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