What’s cooking today: Coronation Rack of Lamb, air fryer style
Celebrity chef Ken Hom’s recipe for his Coronation Rack of Lamb is unusual in that it is first browned and then marinated for an hour before being cooked. In my version, I have adapted his recipe for the air fryer.
I have known and enjoyed Coronation Chicken for as long as I can remember. Now here’s its natural successor for the reign of King Charles III: celebrity chef Ken Hom’s Coronation Roast Rack of Lamb with an Asian-style marinade. This is the authentic recipe as now widely published by the BBC, among others.
Throughout the British Isles and the former Empire, from the persistent colonial old chums of Canada and Australia to far-flung Pacific islands where the flag of Victoria and of Elizabeth II remains embedded in pristine beach sand, ovens will be switched on and inside them will be racks of lamb prepared according to the world’s newest famous recipe. Tables in ordinary households in Chichester and Cleckheaton, Canberra and Calgary, will be set with the best crockery, cutlery and napery the householder owns, and families and friends will celebrate their (or the) new king in the finest style they can muster, whether on a miserly budget or an extravagant one.
Piggy banks will be raided, savings decimated, so as not to lose out on that rarest of royal occasions, the coronation of a new monarch. And lamb is not cheap in Britain where it is today very much a luxury item.
It wasn’t always as rare; I just happen to be very precisely of the generation that was born at a time which meant that I would live through almost the entire reign of Elizabeth II. For every passing prime minister of the land of my parents and of the land of my birth, there was one constant in the background, a sentinel of consistency and confirmation; when the royal kids misbehaved, the matriarch showed how it should be done. The solidity of her reign has been the backbone of our lives, if we happen to be British. Which I sort of am. I have always been as British as I am South African, if only because all of my family were Yorkshire folk, even my late brother was born in Yorkshire before my parents sailed south to have me in a remote diamond mining town. I have always felt my connection to that strange family of mine across the sea; they are a part of me despite our cultural differences. And in many ways I’m as foreign to them as boerewors is to potted grouse.
That I once met the Prince plays a small role; it was one month almost to the day before Diana was to die in that Paris underpass. The future King coming down the steps into the courtyard of his Powys Castle in Wales, one hand in a blazer pocket. Stopping to talk to me, shaking hands, and me not having any recollection of what he or I said because the protocol of it all was so overwhelming and forbidding. So that one went down to experience. It has been odd thinking about it lately though, now that he is king and now that he can be confirmed as such in the traditional manner.
But it falls to me, as ever, to write about the food side of it all, and so I published, on Thursday, my Coronation Chicken recipe, being my take on the traditional dish, and now for the first time, the new Coronation Rack of Lamb.
If it seems, at first, an odd choice, once you think about it it comes into focus. Charles is well-travelled and has a particular affinity for Hong Kong and other Eastern parts. He is a champion of British lamb. He represents not only the Isles of which he is king but territories elsewhere, and is known to take his duties very seriously. Empire remains in disarray, and for many of us we’re happy that it is to a large extent gone, but despite all differences the monarchy is embraced far more widely than one might have surmised might be the case even three decades ago, when all of the younger Charles’ shenanigans were tabloid fodder, endlessly, year after year.
So, traditional Britain and modern Britain are represented in the recipe, with such diverse aspects as sage and mustard on one hand, and soy and garlic on the other. Yes, garlic. The verboten ingredient in the palace kitchens is now in the very coronation dish itself.
I did make one or two tiny tweaks to the lamb recipe. Hom calls for Dijon mustard but I used Hot English. He calls for British lamb but, well, I live in the Karoo, so I’m sure that does not need further explanation. And Hot English is more, well, English, so it seems appropriate. I’d just go in with a light touch so it doesn’t overpower.
Ken Hom has said of his dish, to quote the BBC, “Here, as tender as it is, the lamb’s distinctive taste is nevertheless robust enough to bear the East-West flavours of sesame oil, mustard, and soy sauce with grace and dignity. The recipe represents the hallmark of modern Great Britain. Serve this lamb with roast potatoes and a green salad.”
My adaptive version was cooked in my Instant Vortex Plus 5.7-litre air fryer, rather than the Kenwood twin drawer, as it needed the extra capacity the former affords. The results were perfect.
Two 750 g racks of British (or Karoo) lamb, trimmed of excess fat
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 Tbsp peanut oil
2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 Tbsp roasted sesame oil
2 Tbsp roasted sesame seeds
1 Tbsp sugar
2 Tbsp Dijon mustard (or 1 Tbsp Hot English)
1 Tbsp light soy sauce
2 Tbsp dark soy sauce
2 Tbsp finely chopped garlic
1 Tbsp coarse sea salt
1 Tbsp fresh or 3 Tbsp dry sage
120 ml homemade or store-bought chicken stock
2 tsp sesame oil
2 tsp sesame paste or peanut butter
2 Tbsp butter
Season each rack of lamb with salt and pepper. Brown each rack of lamb in a nonstick pan with peanut oil for 5 minutes, turning frequently. Allow the lamb to cool.
Mix the marinade ingredients in a small bowl and rub the mixture on the racks. Marinate for 1 hour.
Preheat the air fryer to 180℃.
Air fry at 180℃ for 10 minutes, then turn the racks and cook for another 8 to 10 minutes. Allow the meat to rest for 20 minutes. You can leave it in the basket with the drawer pulled out, or remove to a side dish and cover lightly with foil.
Pour the pan juices into a pot and put it on the stove. Skim off excess fat. Add the chicken stock, and simmer until it thickens a little.
Add the sesame oil, sesame paste (or peanut butter), and butter to the sauce and mix thoroughly. Carve the lamb racks and serve with the sauce. I served them with creamed spinach and caramelised carrots. DM/TGIFood
Follow Tony Jackman on Instagram @tony_jackman_cooks.
This dish is photographed in a bowl by Mervyn Gers Ceramics.