The Musette: harissa marinated lamb

Here’s the second recipe from this month’s Great British Chefs Cookbooks Challenge and it’s another one from Michelin starred chef Marcus Waring’s book New Classics. All the recipes are (thankfully) much geared towards the home cook  – you won’t need any Michelin stars to attempt them – while still containing all the incredible flavours and textures that made Marcus such a superstar chef.

This lamb recipe is a stunning main which celebrates Middle Eastern flavours of spicy harissa, crushed pistachios and spiced yoghurt. But what elevates this dish from good to great is the brining of the meat before cooking. This makes it more tender, while the harissa marinade ensures it has bags of flavour.

Ingredients (enough for 4 cyclists)

Marinated lamb

  • 4 pieces of lamb, around 200g (7oz) each
  • 2 tsp harissa
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 30g (1oz) pistachio nuts, toasted and roughly chopped

Lamb  brine

  • 140g (5oz) table salt
  • 1 ltr (4 cups) filtered water
  • 1/2 tsp white peppercorns
  • 1/2 tsp coriander seeds
  • 1/2 tsp fennel seeds
  • 6 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 2 bay leaves

Fresh mint chutney

  • 6 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 2 tsp caster sugar
  • 4 shallots, finely sliced
  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 bunch mint, leaves separated and finely chopped

Yoghurt dressing

  • 150g (5oz) Greek yoghurt
  • 1/4 cucumber, finely grated and drained
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds , toasted and crushed
  • 1 tsp harissa
  • sea salt to taste


1. For the brine, place all the ingredients in a saucepan with 500ml (2 cups) filtered warm water and bring to the boil. Simmer for 2 minutes then remove from the heat and add 500ml filtered cold water. Allow to cool completely.

2. Add the lamb to the brine and place in the fridge for a minimum of 2 hours.

3. Mix the harissa paste with the olive oil. Rinse the brined lamb under cold running water and pat dry with kitchen paper. Rub the harissa mixture over the lamb rumps, cover or place them in a container and chill for at least 6 hours (or overnight).

4. Preheat the oven to 200°C/180°C fan/(400°F)/gas mark 6.

5.  To make the fresh mint chutney, heat the vinegar in a small saucepan, add the sugar and dissolve over medium heat. Remove the pan from the heat and add the shallots. When cool, add the oil and set aside until ready to use.

6. To make the yoghurt dressing, mix all ingredients together in a bowl and season to taste.

7. Heat a large frying pan over medium heat. When hot, place the lamb in the pan, if relevant fat-side down first. Cook for 5–8 minutes, until the fat begins to render and turn a lovely golden brown.

8. Turn the lamb over and seal on all the other sides for a further 5 minutes, then place on a foil-lined dish in the oven. Bake for 5–10 minutes, depending on how pink you like your lamb. Remove from the oven, cover with foil and leave somewhere warm to rest for 5 minutes.


9.  Finish the mint chutney by adding the chopped fresh mint. Serve the lamb with the mint chutney and yoghurt dressing, sprinkled with the pistachio nuts. Eat with a large green salad, roasted vegetables or couscous.

Sheree’s Handy Hints

1. Again, I have tweaked the recipe a bit. I used lamb leg steaks rather than rump of lamb, but I think any cut of lamb would work. You just need to adjust the cooking times.

2. Do make the mint chutney and yoghurt dressing, they add a lot to the dish.

3. This is the first time I’ve brined lamb though I’ve previously done so with chicken and pork. It really added something to the dish and while it takes some time, it’s so worth it.

4. If you don’t have any Greek yoghurt, strain natural yoghurt in a sieve lined with kitchen paper.

Header image: Spring Lamb© Alistair Cunningham

6 Comments on “The Musette: harissa marinated lamb

    • Thanks! If you’re interested, join in at the Great British Chefs Cookbook Club. The recipe actually uses lamb, not veal, but I suspect that would also work equally as well.


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