The sunny flavours of the Mediterranean and the flavour of a live wood fire in my backyard make this one of my favourite ways to serve lamb. It’s a great excuse to fire up your grill any time of year. Both the marinade and the tapenade are wonderful with any type of meat or fish.
Yield: serves 6 with leftovers
for the lamb
1 boneless leg of lamb
1 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons dried oregano
6 or 8 cloves garlic, minced
2 lemons, zest and juice
several heaping spoonfuls any mustard (I prefer grainy)
a sprinkle or two sea salt and freshly ground pepper
For the tapenade
a handful sun-dried tomatoes
a handful pitted kalamata olives
a few anchovies (optional)
1 lemon, zest and juice
1 or 2 cloves garlic, minced
a generous splash extra virgin olive oil
a handful mint leaves
2 tablespoons capers, drained
To prepare the lamb, open the leg up into 1 large piece by cutting through the centre hole where the bone was removed. It’s okay if you end up with 2 pieces. Because the meat is now thinner it will be easier to grill. Place leg in a large bowl or dish.
In a smaller dish, vigorously whisk the olive oil, oregano, garlic, lemon zest and juice, mustard and salt and pepper together until a smooth marinade forms.
Add the marinade to the lamb, and rub it all over the meat. Cover the bowl or dish with plastic wrap and marinate the meat in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour. For maximum flavour marinate it for 12 hours, turning it a few times.
For the tapenade, toss all the ingredientsexcept the capersinto a food processor and purée well. Stir in the capers last so they keep their shape.
To grill the lamb, build a wood fire and let it die down to a hot bed of coals, or preheat your grill to its highest setting.
For medium rare, grill the lamb for 15 minutes or so on the first side and then another 10 minutes or so on the other side. To check the doneness, feel free to cut a small slit into the thickest part and have a peek.
Before you slice the meat, let it rest on a rack for at least 10 minutes. Heat stresses out the meat. Resting it for a few minutes allows the fibres to relax so when you slice away, you don’t lose any of the juices. For best results use a cooling rack. A plate works too, but you’ll lose a bit of juice where it touches the meat.Serve with the tapenade and enjoy all the sunny flavours!
If you don’t have a grill, you may simply roast the lamb at 400 °F (200 °C) for 45 minutes or so. A tapenade is a Mediterranean condiment that traditionally includes olives, capers and anchovies, but if you don’t like anchovies leave them out!
A rack of lamb is a great special occasion dinner. Too bad each chop only gets a thin crust of aromatic topping. To maximize the flavour potential, use individual lamb chops that can each be thickly encased with a crust. Mint and lamb are one of the great classic flavour combinations, and the edamame provides vibrant colour and protective moisture for the delicate mint while in the oven.