Marco Pierre White's roast lamb rack with herb & mustard crust



Happy Christmas! We might be snowed in here in England, but there is still much to celebrate. Today, of course, it is all about turkey, but even as we tuck into the most sumptuous lunch of the year, I am planning ahead. The new year is just around the corner, another excuse to cook good food and celebrate.

As you saw from last week's column on the turkey, nothing quite makes a statement of celebration like a meat dish. It can be a joint - the traditional Scandinavian Christmas Eve dish - or the roast bird a lot of us will be enjoying today, or a rack of lamb, the delicious subject of this week's recipe. The mention of joints reminds me of one of my grandmother's favourite sayings. If she caught any of us with our elbows on the table she would wave her knife and threaten "All joints will be carved!"

A rack of lamb is one of the simplest ways to impress. It looks great, is very tasty but takes almost no time or effort to cook. I have gone for one here with a herb and mustard crust.

You will find a lot of herbs in my recipes - to me they are absolutely essential. They are fresh, vibrant, add colour and create flavour. Try this simple experiment: make a hamburger mix and divide it into two halves, add some fresh rosemary, thyme and oregano to one half and leave the other half plain. Cook both halves and tell me which tastes better. The herbs transform it totally.

Whip up some mashed potatoes to go with it and forget your cholesterol count for once and make them way they should be made, with lots of butter, milk and elbow grease. Honey glazed carrots and parsnips work well with this, too. Or sauté some mushrooms with herbs like I have here.

I look forward to sharing a favourite comfort food with you next week, cauliflower cheese.

MAKE IT YOURSELF

Roasted lamb rack with herb & mustard crust

INGREDIENTS

2 racks of lamb, with 6 -7 bones each

2 sprigs parsley

6-7 leaves mint

1 sprig thyme

1 sprig rosemary

250g breadcrumbs

3 tbsp Dijon mustard

2 tbsp olive oil

Salt and pepper

METHOD

1. Season and sear the lamb in hot oil fat side first until you achieve a nice brown crust. Then roast the lamb in a preheated 200°C oven for 7 to 8 minutes.

2. While the lamb is roasting, combine the herbs (without stems) and breadcrumbs in a blender and blend until the mix becomes bright green.

3. Remove the lamb from the oven and brush with the mustard before dipping into the herb-crust mix. Allow to rest and before serving, simply return the lamb to the oven for a further 2-3 minutes.

4. Carve the racks into individual chops.

SERVES 4

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Need to know

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The trek: Make sure that whatever tour company you select to climb Kilimanjaro, that it is a reputable one. The way to climb successfully would be with experienced guides and porters, from a company committed to quality, safety and an ethical approach to the mountain and its staff. Sonia Nazareth booked a VIP package through Safari Africa. The tour works out to $4,775 (Dh17,538) per person, based on a 4-person booking scheme, for 9 nights on the mountain (including one night before and after the trek at Arusha). The price includes all meals, a head guide, an assistant guide for every 2 trekkers, porters to carry the luggage, a cook and kitchen staff, a dining and mess tent, a sleeping tent set up for 2 persons, a chemical toilet and park entrance fees. The tiny ration of heated water provided for our bath in our makeshift private bathroom stall was the greatest luxury. A standard package, also based on a 4-person booking, works out to $3,050 (Dh11,202) per person.

When to go: You can climb Kili at any time of year, but the best months to ascend  are  January-February and September-October.  Also good are July and August, if you’re tolerant of the colder weather that winter brings.

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