Tomorrow is Waitangi Day which is a public holiday in New Zealand held on February 6 to commemorate the signing of our founding document, The Treaty of Waitangi….it is also a great excuse to get together with friends & family to break bread. Although it’s been many years since I lived in New Zealand, I still get a little homesick around this time of year and like to create something a bit special for my family and teach them a little bit about the traditions of their ancestors….and lets face it I will use any excuse to create a feast in my kitchen.
This year I’m gathering a bit of a crew at my house and together with another expat family we are putting together a kiwi feast complete with mussels, whitebait, NZ salmon, NZ lamb, reduced cream onion dip and eta chips and pavlova with kiwifruit and home made hokey pokey ice cream…..those of you who know what all of those foods are will understand my excitement….I’m almost weeping with anticipation and cannot guarantee I won’t wet my pants at some stage in the lead up to the feast.
Now, I’m fairly certain I would be unable to return to the home country if I didn’t have at least 1 or 2 fabulous lamb recipes to share with you. My favourite cut of lamb is the rack….get your butcher to french trim it and it’s nice and lean, season and brown it before you pop it into the oven and it holds all of it’s gorgeous flavour and juices. I’ve given this lamb a bit of spice and Moroccan flavour….my kids aren’t into spice so I just use half the paste and coat 2 lamb racks and leave the other 2 plain. The left over paste can be saved in the fridge for another time (it also works really well with fish or chicken).
I use the pearl couscous as it has a lovely texture and can hold a few sneaky vegetables in it…I’ve used zucchini here but you could easily grate some pumpkin, carrot, turnip…anything you like, and as always, make sure to add a side of vegetables or a salad to keep it green!
- Prep Time : 10 minutes
- Cook Time : 30 minutes
- Yield : 4
- Lamb racks - 4 x lamb racks with around 3-5 bones. You want them to weigh around 150-250g each for portion control and you'll need them to be drenched and trimmed, this means they'll be nice and juicy and lean.
- Harissa paste
- Harissa paste - 2 tsp - more if you like it spicy
- Roasted Capsicum - 1/2 cup roughly chopped
- Mint leaves - 1 cup, loosely packed and roughly chopped
- Ground cumin - 1 tsp
- Ground coriander - 1 tsp
- Lemon - The juice of half a lemon
- Extra virgin olive oil - 1 tbsp
- Pearl couscous
- Pearl couscous - 1 cup
- Extra virgin olive oil - 1 tbsp
- Onion - 1 small, finely diced
- Garlic - 2 cloves, crushed
- Chicken Stock - 1 1/2 cups of hot stock
- Zucchini - 1, grated
- Mint - 1/2 cup, finely chopped
- Slivered almonds - 1/2 cup
- Pomegranate - The seeds of 1
Preheat your oven to 180°C
Heat a nonstick frypan to medium-high and add the olive oil. The lamb normally comes from the butcher in one long rack, I usually cut those into serving sized pieces of 3-5 bones prior to cooking. Season your lamb racks with salt & pepper and place in the pan. Brown for a minute or two on each side and then place in a baking dish.
Place all of the ingredients for the harissa paste in a food processor and whizz until smooth then spread over the top of the lamb in a thick layer. Pop the lamb into your preheated oven for around 20-30 minutes depending on how you prefer your lamb....20 minutes will be on the rarer side, closer to 30 will be more well done...if you give the sides a bit of a squish to test the firmness this will help you decide whether or not to pop it back in for another go round the block. When it's done to your liking remove from the oven, place some aluminium foil on top and leave it to rest for a good 5-10 minutes.
Meanwhile heat the remaining olive oil in a nonstick saucepan and sauté your onion for 2-3 minutes until soft and translucent then add the crushed garlic and sauté for another minute. Add your couscous to the saucepan and stir through the onion & garlic for a couple of minutes then lower the heat. Next add the hot chicken stock and the grated zucchini to the pan and stir through. Turn the heat down to low, place a lid on top of the pan and allow to simmer away, stirring occasionally, until most of the liquid has been absorbed, the couscous is cooked through and the zucchini is tender. Remove from the heat and allow to stand for 5 minutes then stir through the finely chopped mint and slivered almonds. Roll your pomegranate on the top of your bench to loosen the seeds, cut in half and using the back of a spoon bang the back of each half of the pomegranate so that the seeds fall into the couscous.
To serve divide the couscous between 4 plates and top each with a rack of lamb. As always, add a side of something green and in this case maybe a squeeze of lemon if you like a bit of zing.