These five ingredients are the food equivalent of the answer we’d give if asked ‘who would you most love to have dinner with?’.
Spring lamb, olives, tomatoes, loads of garlic and the oft-neglected marjoram are a Mediterranean riot together. The white polenta soaks up the deliciousness beautifully
• 3 x 6 point rack of lamb, French-trimmed
• salt and pepper
• 1 tablespoon canola or vegetable oil
For the marjoram and parmesan crust:
• 10 slices good-quality white bread,, crusts removed
• 1 tablespoon fresh marjoram leaves, chopped
• 50g finely grated parmesan
• 1 egg yolk
• 200g butter, softened
• 25ml thickened cream
• 1 teaspoon dijon mustard
• salt and pepper
For the white polenta:
• 1 litre Chicken stock
• 250g white polenta
• 100g finely grated parmesan
• 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
For the melted tomato and olive sauce:
• garlic, thinly sliced
• 125ml extra-virgin olive oil
• 2 sprigs marjoram
• 400g mixed heirloom cherry tomatoes
• 400ml Lamb stock
• 200g best-quality olives, mixed colours, stored in oil not brine
• 40g butter
1 To make the crust, put the bread, marjoram and parmesan in a food processor and pulse to blend. Add the egg yolk, butter, cream and mustard and blend until smooth.
2 Season with salt and pepper.
3 Roll the mixture out between two sheets of baking paper to a thickness of 4 mm. Put on a tray and refrigerate to set.
Preheat the oven to 190°C.
4 Season the lamb with salt and pepper. Heat a large heavy-based frying pan or a large non-stick frying pan over high heat and sear the lamb racks in the oil until lightly browned. Wrap the bones in foil so they don’t burn in the oven. Set aside.
5 Cut the crust into slices to fit nicely on the lamb racks. Press on well and trim any overhang.
6 To make the polenta, bring the stock to the boil in a large saucepan and sprinkle in the polenta, whisking as you go. Cook over medium heat for 6–8 minutes until thick and creamy. Cover the surface with plastic wrap until serving.
7 Put the lamb racks onto a baking tray lined with foil. Put in the oven and cook for 8 minutes. Remove and allow to rest for 5 minutes before carving.
8 While the lamb is cooking prepare the sauce. Heat the sliced garlic in a medium saucepan in the olive oil over low heat.
9 When it warms through, increase the heat to medium and add the marjoram and tomatoes. Swirl the pan occasionally until the tomatoes start to soften. Add the lamb stock and olives and cook until a sauce-like consistency. Add the butter and swirl to emulsify.
10 Return the polenta to the heat and whisk in the parmesan and the 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil. Season with a little salt.
1 Using a very sharp knife, carve each rack into two and place on serving plates. Spoon the sauce around and serve with the polenta on the side.
Recipe courtesy of Philippa Sibley, extracted from New Classics