In France, as in Spain, we use licorice root quite a lot. In fact, I remember as a young boy buying licorice root and chewing it on my way to school, then keeping it in my bag during class and getting it out again to chew on my way back home—great memories! In this recipe, I use it to skewer the lamb rumps so the flavor infuses the meat while cooking, without it becoming overpowering. The lamb is also really good served with very thin strips, or “tagliatelle,” of zucchini sautéed in olive oil with a little garlic and chili and finished with chopped flat-leaf parsley.
– PREPARATION TIME 10 minutes, plus 1 hour soaking and overnight marinating.
– COOKING TIME 20 minutes.
– 1 small stick licorice root, about 4 inches long and ½ inch thick.
– 4 small lamb rumps, about 5 ounces each.
– ½ cup olive oil.
– 4 teaspoons unsalted butter.
– ¾ cup plus 2 tablespoons Lamb Stock or Chicken Stock.
– sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.
– steamed Swiss chard, to serve.
Step 2: Put the lamb in a shallow bowl and pour the oil over, then add a generous pinch of pepper and the licorice peelings. Stir to coat, then cover each rump tightly with plastic wrap, pressing the plastic wrap directly onto the lamb so there is not any air inside. Leave to marinate in the refrigerator overnight to help tenderize the meat.
Step 3: The next day, heat the oven to 275°F. Remove the lamb from the marinade and, using a skewer, make an incision through the middle of each piece of meat. Insert a piece of the licorice root through each of the pieces of lamb.
Step 4: Heat an ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat. Add the lamb and cook 3 to 4 minutes on all sides, adding the butter when cooking the final side. Transfer the lamb, still in the pan, to the oven and roast 5 to 8 minutes, then turn the oven up to 350°F and roast 4 minutes longer until the lamb is cooked through, but still slightly pink in the middle. Transfer the lamb to a warm plate, cover with aluminum foil and leave to rest while you make the gravy.
Step 5: Return the pan you cooked the lamb in to a high heat and when the juices are bubbling, add the stock and deglaze the pan by stirring to remove any caramelized bits stuck to the bottom. Cook 5 minutes, or until it is reduced by half, then add any resting juices from the lamb and season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve with steamed Swiss chard.