Well, well, well. Here we are at #400! Who would have thought I’d get this far?
I’ve chosen this classic piece of meat sculpture for this milestone as it is such a special thing, and hardly seen these days. Plus, doing it Jane’s way means you don’t simply pop to the butcher’s shop and ask for the roast assembled and oven-ready. No, Jane’s way means constructing it yourself; something I really could not have done at the beginning of this project. This saves you a lot of money, and earns you plenty of kudos with your friends.
I did a quick look through some old books and it is odd that this classic and ancient and slightly macabre dish does not seem to appear before the 20th Century. I must be wrong here – can anyone shed any light on it?
To make your own rack of lamb, you will need three things: your lamb, stuffing and a trussing needle & thread.
First, the stuffing: go for any of the stuffing recipes in the Stuffings section of the last chapter, or go with the stuffing recipe from #175 Shoulder of Lamb with Rice and Apricot Stuffing. I chose the latter.
Ok, now the tricky bit. Go to your butcher and ask for a whole best end of neck; it is from this that you will get your two, perfectly symmetrical, racks. You should get 7-8 cutlets from each rack. Here’s what you ask the butcher to do (in Jane’s own words):
- to divide in two down backbone so you have two symmetrical pieces,
- to chine it [this means to remove the backbone],
- to make small cuts between the cutlet bones [this is quite simple to do yourself].
The butcher will desperately try to chop off the long bones and you must insist he does not! At home, you can get the racks prepped by French trimming the thin ends; scraping away the fat from the ribs, just like #305 Guard of Honour. It’s quite laborious at first, but you’ll soon get the knack.
Sit the two racks back-to-back with the fatty sides touching. Take your trussing needle and sew the ends together with two stiches, making sure the thread is tied good and tight.
Stand it up and shape it into a crown using your fist – this is where those little cuts the butcher made are important. Cover the ends with foil and sit the whole thing on a rack in a foil-lined roasting pan. Season the meat (especially the fat) and fill the centre with your chosen stuffing.
Roast for 75 minutes at 190⁰C. Remove from the oven, cover with foil and let the meat rest for 20 minutes or so. If you want to be posh remove the foil from the ribs and replace with paper ruffles.
But what to serve with roast lamb? Don’t fear, Grigson has it all covered for us in this post.
#400 Crown Roast of Lamb. What a spectacle this was! I loved the way it looked; not all nice and neat with each rib the same length, but instead the bones were their natural varied lengths, making it look even more like a real crown. The stuffing was, of course, great and the meat itself wonderfully tender and medium rare. A surprising thing bearing in mind it had been a roasting for what seemed like a long time. The only minor thing is that the stuffing began to char, so I would recommend covering it with some foil for the first half of the roasting. Nevertheless, still marvellous. 10/10.