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We eat a wide range of dishes for dinner, but meals based on a piece of meat, particularly any sort of steak, are surprisingly rare (apologies for the accidental pun!).  It’s even rarer that I post one of these recipes, because it means getting into the difficult area of timing and checking for meat doneness. So I’ve been putting this off for some time, but given it is one of our favourite meals, and my increasingly happy to cook teenagers are asking for the recipe, I decide to bite the bullet 🙂

coat lamb in mixed spices

fry lamb fillets over medium high heat

It helps that this is really very simple, despite the fact that it looks surprisingly elegant on the plate. It also allows for variations to spicing and additions to the couscous depending on taste, or if you want to make it with, for example, more Moroccan, or more Indian flavours. To make it, lamb fillets are rolled in a dry spice mix, before being browned in a pan.  While the lamb is finishing in the oven, you make couscous, and toss with a range of herbs and seasoning. We usually serve something simple like steamed broccoli on the side, and that’s it!

finely slice spring onions and parsley

Above you can see a slightly more elaborate version, adding roasted cherry tomatoes to the couscous (taken from the chicken and chorizo couscous recipe), and served with broccolini; and below is a version with added chickpeas. Try your own – you could add any combination of mint/parsley/coriander/basil to the couscous, as well as toasted nuts, chickpeas or lentils, roasted vegetables, feta or goats cheese… The lamb can be rolled in almost any spice mix, from curry powder to Ras el Hanout or even dukkah, or your own combination. Let me know what you try!

Spice crusted lamb fillet with herbed couscous

Inspired by a Bill Granger recipe

  • 400g lamb backstrap/fillet
  • 1 Tbs spice mix (see options above – we often use garam masala or five spice)
  • 3 Tbs olive oil
  • 225g (1 1/2 c) couscous
  • 1 tsp chicken stock powder
  • 2-4 spring onions
  • very large handful (about 1/4 of a large bunch) of one or more fresh herbs (see options above)
  • 1 tin chickpeas (optional)
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 2 Tbs lemon juice
  • 2 Tbs pomegranate molasses (optional if you don’t have)

Preheat oven to 200C. Trim any large bits of fat or sinew from the lamb. Roll each piece in the spices and put aside.

Stir the couscous, 1 Tbs oil and stock powder together, and pour over 375ml (1 1/2 c) boiling water. Cover and leave for five minutes to absorb the water. Meanwhile finely slice the spring onions and roughly chop the herbs. Use a fork to fluff up the couscous and stir in the spring onions, herbs, and chickpeas (or other inclusions) if using. Crush the garlic, and whisk together with the lemon, molasses, 1 Tbs oil and salt to taste. Pour over the couscous and stir through gently.

Heat the remaining 1 Tbs oil over high heat in a heavy oven proof frying pan. Add the lamb, and fry for a couple of minutes on each side until brown. Put the pan in the oven, and cook for approximately another eight minutes until medium to medium rare, depending on the size of the pieces. The lamb is going to be sliced anyway, so cut into a piece if you’re not sure. Once done, rest the lamb for five minutes while putting the couscous on a serving plate. Slice the lamb across on a slight diagonal, and serve on the couscous. Serve with vegetables on the side as above.

Serves 4