Wine & Food Killers: Roasted Rack of Lamb with Herbes de Provence Salsa Verde and New Potatoes and Domaine Mosse Bangarang Rouge

Listen, I know it's been a summer of heatwaves – maybe you're in the middle of one while you're reading this. You might be propped in front of your fan, or out in your back garden, feet cooling in the wading pool you bought last month. I know that turning on your oven, or standing in front of a stove, may sound unwise.

But – I hate to say it – it won’t be long before August is over. It's already happening; soon, it will be dark by 9pm, and then 8.30... And that’s the moment you should turn to this roasted rack of lamb.

In fairness, this isn’t your heavy, hearty winter lamb. This is lamb that’s spent time in Provence, lamb scented with sun-baked herbs, lavender and olives; long, languid days. A rack of lamb is a spectacle, well-suited to late-season celebrations, but it’s also not complicated – it roasts in less than half an hour, just enough time to render the fat, not so much that it’s no longer pink and juicy in the centre. (Please make the effort to seek out high-welfare, heritage lamb if you can.)

Salsa verde and lamb are a tried-and-true combination – anchovy and capers seem to deepen its animal funk, while parsley adds freshness. I thought I’d up the Mediterranean factor even further here by making an herbes de provence salsa verde, which adds fresh thyme and rosemary to the mix, as well as mint. That’s all served alongside smashed new potatoes mixed with olives, roasted red peppers, and, yes, more herbs.

I also thought I'd serve my lamb with Agnes & Rene Mosse’s Bangarang Rouge 2021, and I’m glad I did. I’d be hard-pressed to come up with a better, more versatile table wine than this. A moderate 11.5% ABV, jubilant with just a touch of carbonation, this Grolleau and Gamay number is crunchy like cherry skins, juicy and quenching, but there's still enough herbaceousness that it isn’t overwhelmed by the lamb – in fact, the meat seems to draw out its berry-sweetness even more.

Summer certainly isn’t over yet – and for as long as the dog days last, this is the dish, and the pairing, to take you through this transitional time.

Roasted Rack of Lamb with Herbes de Provence Salsa Verde and New Potatoes
Serves 4

For the lamb:
1 700-800g rack of lamb ribs (roughly 8 ribs)
5 tablespoons olive oil, divided
Flaky sea salt, such as Maldon, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon dried thyme

For the vegetables:
750g new potatoes
Fine sea salt
Olive oil (optional)
150g kalamata olives, pitted and roughly chopped
200g jar roasted red peppers, drained and roughly chopped
3-4 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried lavender (optional)

For the salsa verde:
50g flat-leaf parsley
25g fresh mint leaves
10-12 sprigs thyme (stems removed and discarded)
4 sprigs rosemary (stems removed and discarded)
1 garlic clove
5 oil-packed anchovy fillets, drained
2 tablespoons oil-packed capers, drained (divided)
1 ½ tablespoons red or white wine vinegar
80ml extra virgin olive oil

1. A minimum of 3-4 hours before you plan to cook – and up to the night before – prepare and season your lamb. Score the fat side of the rack, drizzle over 3 tablespoons of olive oil and generously season all sides with flaky sea salt, black pepper, garlic powder and dried thyme. Line a medium baking tray with foil and fit a wire rack over the top; place the lamb on the rack and keep uncovered in the fridge.

2. An hour or so before cooking, remove the lamb from the fridge and leave to warm slightly at room temperature. Meanwhile, boil a large pot of well-salted water and add the potatoes. Cook for 15-20 minutes, or until a knife pierces them easily but they aren’t yet falling apart. Drain and set aside until cool enough to handle.

3. While the potatoes are cooling, prepare the salsa verde. To a food processor, add the parsley, mint, thyme, rosemary, garlic, anchovy fillets, 1 tablespoon of the capers and the vinegar. Blend on high until the mix is finely chopped. Scrape down the sides with a spatula; then, with the motor running, slowly pour in the olive oil until the mixture comes together. Transfer to a bowl and stir through the remaining capers. Taste and adjust any seasoning if needed. Set aside.

4. Preheat the oven to 220°C. Meanwhile, place a large frying pan over medium-high heat and add the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Once hot, place the lamb ribs in the pan, fat-side down. Sear for several minutes until golden. Repeat, using tongs to flip the rack, until lightly golden on all sides. Turn off the heat and return the lamb to the wire-rack-fitted baking tray, fat side up. Once cool enough to handle, wrap foil around the exposed bones to prevent them from burning.

5. Transfer the lamb to the oven and roast for 10 minutes at 220°C. Then, turn down the temperature to 200°C and roast for roughly 8-15 minutes more, depending on how well you like yours done. Check the internal temperature using a probe thermometer inserted into the central, fleshy part of the rack (take care not to touch any bones, as they’ll skew the temperature reading) around 10-12 minutes in. For rare, aim for an internal temperature around 51°C, and for medium-rare, aim for 55-57°C. (I find medium-rare is the best preparation for this cut, as cooking a little longer helps the fat render.)

6. While the lamb cooks, transfer the potatoes to a cutting board and, using a jar or other flat-bottomed implement, gently crush them (ensuring they remain in one piece). Place the frying pan where you seared the lamb (add extra olive oil if necessary) over medium heat. Once hot, add the potatoes. Cook for roughly 10 minutes, flipping occasionally, until the potatoes are golden brown on both sides.

7. Transfer the potatoes to a plate and add the chopped roasted red peppers, olives, and garlic. Cook, stirring frequently, for several minutes, or until fragrant and the garlic is lightly golden. Add the dried oregano and lavender and mix through. Return the potatoes to the pan and gently mix through; turn off the heat and set aside.

8. Once the lamb is cooked to your liking, remove from the oven and leave to cool for 5-10 minutes. Then, using a sharp knife, slice between the ribs, allocating two per serving. Divide between plates, alongside the potato and pepper mixture. Dollop over the salsa verde and serve.

Claire M. Bullen is a professional food and travel writer, a beer and wine hound and an all-around lover of tasty things. Our first book with Claire, The Beer Lover’s Table: Seasonal Recipes and Modern Beer Pairings, is available in all good book stores (and at HB&B). Follow her on Twitter at @clairembullen. Don’t miss out on Claire’s wine and food pairings, which go out every month in our Natural Wine Killers subscription box.