Za'atar crusted lamb fillet with skordalia

Neil Perry
Neil Perry's za'atar crusted lamb fillet with skordalia.
Neil Perry's za'atar crusted lamb fillet with skordalia. Photo: William Meppem

Za'atar is a Middle-Eastern herb-and-spice mix consisting mainly of dried oregano, salt and sesame seeds. It's great in crusts and marinades, and fantastic with yoghurt as a dip for bread.

Ingredients

3 tbsp za'atar

1 tbsp sumac

1 cup olive oil

4 lamb backstraps, trimmed

sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Skordalia

3 bulbs garlic

800g desiree potatoes, peeled, cut into 3cm dice

3 tbsp almond meal

1 tbsp boiling water

5 tbsp good-quality extra virgin olive oil

juice of 1 lemon

sea salt and freshly ground white pepper 

Tabouleh (optional)

Method

Combine za'atar, sumac and oil, and mix to a paste.

Place lamb in bowl, add paste and toss to coat. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 150°C.

For the skordalia, wrap the garlic bulbs separately in foil and roast for 20-30 minutes until garlic is very soft. Cut each bulb in half crosswise and squeeze out garlic into a bowl, then mash with a fork until puréed.

Steam potato until very tender and pass through a mouli or ricer into a large bowl.

Stir in the garlic purée, almond meal and water. Slowly add the olive oil in a stream until incorporated. Add the lemon juice and season to taste.

Remove lamb from refrigerator and bring up to room temperature. Season well before pan-frying or char-gilling over medium to high heat for 5-8 minutes, or until done to your liking. Remove from pan and rest for 5-10 minutes.

Serve with skordalia on the side.

HOT TIPS

• Serve the lamb with tabouli (recipe here) for a refreshing accompaniment.

• Za'atar is a Middle-Eastern herb-and-spice mix consisting mainly of dried oregano, salt and sesame seeds. It's great in crusts and marinades, and fantastic with yoghurt as a dip for bread.

• Sumac is a red berry that, when ground, has a pleasing lemony taste. It also adds great colour.

• The skordalia is great with seafood, and I also love it on a slice of good-quality sourdough bread.

SOMETHING TO DRINK

Portuguese red blend
2009 Casa Santos Lima Quinta Das Setencostas (about $17) comes from the Alenquer region, just north of Lisbon in Portugal. A wild mix of native red Portuguese varieties, it's bold and rich with dusty fine tannins - perfect with the lamb and skordalia.

Photography by William Meppem. Styling by Hannah Meppem. Food preparation by Kirsten Jenkins.

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