Crown roast of lamb with couscous filling

Beef and Lamb SA
8 servings Prep: 45 mins, Cooking: 1 hr 30 mins
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A crown roast of lamb prepared using the reversed searing method. Stuffed with couscous, cranberries and pistachios. Served with a mint infused sauce and a fresh watercress salad.

By Independent Contributor November 23 2023
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Ingredients (24)

2 x I kg racks of lamb — chined [spine bone removed by the butcher] (x 6-8 ribs per rack of lamb tied together) refer to notes on how to assemble the crown roasts of ask butcher to prepare
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
2 garlic cloves — finely chopped
2 tbsp fresh oregano — roughly chopped
2 tbsp fresh rosemary — roughly chopped
1 cup lamb stock
1 tsp ground turmeric
1 cup couscous — uncooked
1 tbsp olive oil
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup spring onions — thinly sliced
2 tbsp fresh parsley — chopped
1/2 cup pistachios — chopped
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pink peppercorns — crushed
1 1/2 cup lamb stock
1/2 cup rosé wine
2 tbsp flour
1 tbsp butter
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2 cup fresh mint leaves
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Prepare the lamb [forming the crown]

Collect all the ingredients and other items required to prepare the crown. Remove the lamb from the refrigerator and bring to room temperature, about 40 minutes (this helps to cut and shape the crown otherwise the meat is too cold).

Place the oven rack in the lower third of the oven and pre-heat the oven to 160°C, this is to allow the crown to fit into the oven.

Position the lamb racks on a cutting board and flip the lamb over so that the bones are facing you. Use a sharp boning or chef’s knife, make a 2,5 cm incision between the bottom of each bone of both racks. Be careful to not damage the meat of the chops.

Turn the lamb so that the bones are facing away from you. Slice under the bones (no more than 1.5 cm) along the entire length of the rack. This incision is the guide to where you will tie the butcher’s twine to form the crown. Be careful to not cut too deep as the meat will then tear off the bone when you try and shape it.

Flip the racks with the fat side up, with the bones facing away from you, use a sharp chef’s knife and remove the outside connective tissue layer and trim any excessive fat.

To French the racks of lamb (strip the ends of excess meat)

Flip the rack so that the ribs are exposed and using the tip of your knife, score the membrane along the center of each bone by placing the tip of your knife against the bone starting about an 3-4 cm away from the cut end of the bones, and pulling your knife slowly and firmly down the bone to its end. Your knife should trace a path right down the center of each bone, not in between the bones.

Peel away the membrane by using a dish cloth to grip the fat, pull the fat and membrane away from between each rib slowly and firmly. It should pull cleanly away from the bones. Continue working away from the bones until about 5 cm bone is exposed.

Flip the rack over and use your knife to cut away the flap of fat and membrane. The fat and membrane should have come cleanly off the bones, leaving them bare and white. Most of the time, little bits of meat and fat will remain stuck to the bone, use the butt-end of your knife, next to the tang, to scrape the remaining connective tissue off the bones.

Lay the racks fat-side up on a work surface in front of you. Mix together the salt, pepper, garlic, oregano and rosemary to create a seasoning rub. Rub the fat side of the rack with half of the rub mixture. Gently rub and press the rub mixture into the fat to help it stick. Repeat with the second rack and the remaining rub mixture.

Creating the crown

Stand the racks up, with the bones resting on the work surface and gently bend each rack into a semicircle with the fat/meat side toward the inside. Press the racks together to form a circle.

Use an empty can, cover it with tin foil and place it in the middle of the crown. The covered tin will help support the lamb while tying the butcher’s twine.

Use a length of butcher’s twine long enough to tie around the racks twice. Slip the twine into the sliced space under the bones. Pull firmly but not too tight to prevent cutting into the meat and tie a knot to secure the shape.

Using another double length of twine, tie twice around the center of the crown, pull firmly and secure with a knot. Remove the can and the crown will stand up on its own.

Cooking the crown

Place the lamb onto a rack in a rimmed roasting pan. Use the tin foil you used to cover the can and scrunch it into a ball and place that in the center of the crown (the heat reflected by the foil helps to cook the lamb). Wrap each of the exposed bones with a small piece of foil to prevent them from burning during roasting.

Roast in the oven at 160°C for 25 minutes per 500 g plus an extra 20 minutes, about 1 to 1 ½ hours. Use a temperature probe to measure the internal temperature of the meat. When the internal temperature reaches 46°C, remove the meat from the oven. Increase the oven heat to the highest setting 260°C and allow to heat fully.

Place lamb back in the oven and roast lamb, checking the temperature every 5 minutes as it approaches doneness, until the lamb is browned, and the instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the lamb reads 52- 54°C for medium-rare or 54-57°C for medium about 10 minutes.

Once the lamb is cooked to your liking, remove from the oven and transfer the lamb to a cutting board, leaving the roasting juices behind in the pan. Tent the lamb with foil and let rest for 15 minutes while you make the sauce. The internal temperature of the lamb will rise about 5 degrees more as the lamb rests.

Preparing the sauce

Place the roasting pan with the juices on the stovetop over medium-high heat. Once the juices start to bubble, add the rose wine, stir and scrape up any browned bits stuck on the pan with a wooden spoon. Add the stock and the mint bring to a simmer, and let the sauce reduce by one-third. Remove the mint.

Combine the flour and butter in a bowl to form a thick paste. Once the sauce has reduced, turn the heat to high, add the flour paste, whisking until the sauce thickens. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Strain into a sauce boat.

Gently remove the twine from the lamb. Stuff with the warm couscous stuffing and serve with the sauce. To carve the lamb, slice between the rib bones into chops and serve with a fresh watercress salad.

Preparing the stuffing

Note: The stuffing is prepared separately as filling the center of the crown with a stuffing makes judging the correct internal temperature tricky.

In a heatproof bowl pour boiling water over the cranberries and pistachios and let steep until softened and plump, about 10 minutes.

Heat the stock in a medium saucepan with the turmeric. Place the couscous in a large heatproof bowl and pour over the warm stock. Allow to stand until the couscous has absorbed the stock about 10 minutes. Stir in the drained cranberries, nuts, spring onions and parsley and olive oil. Season to taste with the salt and crushed pink peppercorns. Keep warm and use to stuff the cooked crown roast.

Beef and Lamb SA is the consumer education function of the Red Meat Industry Services (RMIS).

Recipe developed by Prof. Gerrie Du Rand. Photography by Michelle Parkin. Styling by Caro Alberts.

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