Katie and Giancarlo Caldesi, connoisseurs of all things Italian, have a new cookbook out! Bring a taste of Sicily right into your home kitchen and re-create the best of what this food-forward island has to offer. This rack of lamb with citrus gremolata is a succulent, juicy centerpiece for a special-occasion dinner.
The citrus perfume from the crust on this lamb as it cooks fills the kitchen with the scent of summer. It is quick and easy to put together and looks splendid for a quick supper or entertaining. The recipe is from Roberto Toro, head chef of the elegant restaurant at one of our favorite places to stay in Sicily, the hotel Belmond Grand Timeo in Taormina. Either serve the rack of lamb simply, with a swirl of your best extra-virgin olive oil, or make a gravy from lamb bones (this can be done the day before).
- About 1 pound lamb bones
- 1 small white or brown onion, peeled and roughly chopped
- 1 stick celery and a few leaves, roughly chopped
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 sprig rosemary
- A few peppercorns
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- Scant 1/2 cup white wine
- 12 1/2 cups cold water
- 2 teaspoons corn flour
- 1/2 tablespoon butter
- 2 French-trimmed 8-bone racks of lamb
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Small handful mint leaves
- 2 strips orange zest, peeled from an unwaxed orange with a potato peeler
- 2 strips lemon zest, peeled from an unwaxed lemon with a potato peeler
- 4 teaspoons Dijon mustard
- 7 ounces Swiss chard leaves, stems discarded, or spinach leaves
- 5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra to finish
- 1 clove garlic, peeled and lightly crushed
For the lamb
If you are going to make a gravy, fry the bones, onion, celery, carrot, bay leaf, rosemary and peppercorns in the oil in a large saucepan over a medium-high heat until lightly golden brown and beginning to stick to the bottom of the pan.
Pour in the wine and allow it to sizzle for a few minutes. Add the water and bring to the boil. Turn the heat down to simmer and leave the stock to bubble away for 2-3 hours.
Strain the stock through a colander and discard the flavorings. Put the stock back into the pan over a medium heat and reduce it further until you have around 17 ounces.
In a small cup, stir 4 tablespoons of the stock with the cornflour until it forms a smooth paste. Whisk into the stock with the butter and season to taste. The gravy is now ready to use straightaway or can be cooled and stored in the fridge until you need it. When ready to serve, reheat in a small pan.
To cook the rack of lamb, heat the oven to 350°F. Split the racks into two. Season the lamb all over and briefly sauté on all sides in a large frying pan (skillet) with 2 tablespoons of the extra-virgin olive oil.
Finely chop the mint, lemon and orange zest together on a board. Spread it out into a thin layer.
Spread each rack of lamb with a little mustard and dip it into the chopped orange, lemon and mint to coat. Place onto a baking tray and cook in the oven for 12 minutes — it will be pink on the inside.
In the meantime, boil the chard or spinach leaves for a few minutes in salted water. Drain well and squeeze the excess water away. Sauté with the garlic in the remaining oil. Put the chard leaves on the plate and lay the rack of lamb on top. Finish with a swirl of your best extra-virgin olive oil or the lamb gravy.