I’ve had this recipe in my head for such a long time, years, in fact. It’s not a new idea, it’s just that I’ve never cooked with lavender before. I remember mentioning it to the friend I was living with at the time only to have him look back at me with a confused expression – ‘lavender? in food?’ Using lavender in this way really works. Just don’t go using any you found in your local park or garden centre, it’s probably been sprayed with pesticides or some such nasty business. English lavender is apparently the best but if you live in another part of this glorious world don’t fret, you can buy it dried and be safe in the knowledge that you are just getting lavender and not a hefty dose of weed killer. We actually ended up with French Lavender.
The floral, pine like and slightly citrussy flowers combined with sweet honey and orange zest was a total winner. They would also be delicious grilled on the barbecue (I think I write that a lot don’t I?), if you have a decent one, which we currently don’t. Disposable barbecues and I have fallen out big time. A word of warning though, don’t go OTT on the lavender, it has similarities to rosemary and I suspect it will taste equally like perfume if you overuse it.
We ate the lollipops of lamb with a salad made from fennel tops and leaves dressed with mint sauce. I’ve not given a recipe for the mint sauce as it’s all down to personal taste. Just finely chop some fresh mint leaves, add enough red or white wine (or cider) vinegar to loosen it to a sauce, add a pinch of salt and then sweeten to taste with sugar.
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Lavender and Honey Lamb
1 rack of lamb, French trimmed
Zest of 1 orange
1 1/2 – 2 tablespoons dried lavender flowers (depending on the size of your rack!), stripped from the stalks
2 tablespoons honey
2 cloves garlic, crushed with some sea salt
Preheat the oven to 220C/425F/Gas7
– Mix the garlic, lavender, orange zest and honey in a bowl.
– Season the rack with pepper then heat a heavy based pan until very hot (until you can no longer hold your hand over it at a distance of 3″ or so for 3 seconds).
– Put the lamb in the pan, fat side down and render down the fat for about 10 minutes then flip it over for 1 minute onto the bones side just to get some colour.
– Remove from the pan and set aside. Let the lamb come back to room temperature and then brush with the lavender mixture.
– Put in a roasting tray and cook in the oven for 20 minutes then let rest for 15 for medium-rare lamb.