Provençale Best End of Spring Lamb with Ratatouille
For the Provençale Breadcrumbs:
For the Ratatouille:
- 75g/3oz white or brown bread, crusts removed
- 2 garlic cloves, crushed
- 2 pinches sea salt
- 2 pinches freshly ground black pepper
- 1 handful flatleaf parsley, leaves only, finely chopped
- 2 sprigs thyme, leaves only, finely chopped
- 1 sprig rosemary, leaves only, finely chopped
- 4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
For the Lamb:
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 2 medium onions, roughly chopped
- 4 garlic cloves, crushed
- 2 sprigs thyme, leaves only
- 1 large red pepper, seeds removed, roughly chopped
- 2 medium courgettes, halved lengthways, chopped into 2cm/¾in pieces
- 1 medium aubergine, chopped into 2cm/¾in pieces
- 4 large ripe tomatoes, roughly chopped, preferably ‘Marmande’ variety
- 1 tsp sea salt
- 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
- 4 tbsp olive oil
- 200g/7oz lamb bones and trimmings, chopped into 2cm/¾in pieces (ask your butcher nicely and they should be free!)
- 2 racks best end spring lamb, about 8 ribs each, French trimmed
- sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 tbsp Dijon mustard
- For the breadcrumbs, preheat the oven to 80C/175F/Gas ¼ and toast on a baking tray for two hours.
- Crumble the toasted breadcrumbs into a food processor and add the garlic, salt and freshly ground black pepper.
- Pulse until you have a sandy-textured mixture, then add the chopped herbs and pulse once more to blend.
- Drizzle in the olive oil, add more salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste, and set aside. The breadcrumbs can be stored in an airtight container for up to a week before using.
- For the ratatouille, heat the oil in a large pan and gently cook the onions for 5-7 minutes, or until they are softened but not browned.
- Add the remaining ingredients, stir gently and bring to a boil. Turn the heat down, put the lid on top of the pan and simmer for about 20 minutes, stirring from time to time, or until all the vegetables are tender.
- Add salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste, and set aside. The ratatouille can be made one day in advance, stored in a fridge and gently reheated to serve.
- For the lamb, preheat the oven to 190C/375F/Gas 5.
- Heat half of the oil in a large ovenproof frying pan and fry the lamb bones over a high flame for about seven minutes, or until they are browned all over. Set the pan aside.
- Heat the remaining oil in another frying pan and fry the lamb over a medium heat for 3-4 minutes on the fat side, then one minute on the meat side or until lightly browned.
- Place the racks of lamb on top of the browned bones and cook in the oven for 15 minutes. Resting the racks on the bones will allow the air to circulate so they cook more evenly.
- Remove the racks from the pan and leave to rest for at least 10 minutes.
- Place the breadcrumbs on a shallow baking tray. Brush the racks all over with the mustard, then press into the breadcrumbs to coat and place on a clean baking tray.
- The racks can be prepared to this stage up to half a day before serving - cover with a clean tea towel and place in the fridge.
- To finish the dish, bring the racks of lamb to room temperature if they’ve been prepared earlier and kept in the fridge. Preheat the oven to 190C/375F/Gas 5.
- Cook the lamb in the oven for 15 minutes, then let rest for 10 minutes.
- Gently reheat the ratatouille if it has been made in advance and place on warmed serving plates.
- To serve, divide each rack into two pieces and place on top of the ratatouille. Alternatively, separate each rib, arrange on a large flat dish and serve the ratatouille in a bowl alongside.