A rack of hogget is a lovely thing to cook, provided you have the patience to do it properly. With the fat around the bones rendered and crispy, then the tender flesh of the loin pink and moist, it is a premium cut.
I cooked this rack on the bbq, a decision which meant I could cook the aubergines in the coals. When cooked like this, they take on a flavour, from the smoke, which is impossible to replicate and utterly delicious. Scooped out of their flesh and then seasoned with a little slow-roasted garlic, olive oil, and a touch of yoghurt, this is a silky garnish that works perfectly with this hogget. The oregano and chilli dressing is bright with acidity, which is needed to help balance the dish.
Rack of hogget, smoky aubergine, chilli & oregano dressing
- For the aubergine
3 large aubergines
1 head of garlic
1 unwaxed lemon
1 tbsp organic Greek-style yoghurt
extra virgin olive oil
- Oregano dressing
1 bunch of fresh oregano, leaves picked from the stalks and finely chopped
1 tsp of dried oregano
1 small clove of garlic, peeled and finely grated
1 red chilli, deseeded and then finely chopped
zest and juice of 1 unwaxed lemon
organic white wine vinegar
- Remove the hogget from the fridge and allow to come to room temperature.
- Light the bbq and let the coals burn down until they are burning grey/white.
- Place the whole head of garlic onto a medium-hot part of the grill and leave to cook in its skin for 40-45 minutes.
- Pierce the skin of the aubergines with a sharp knife in several places and then lay them onto the hottest part of the grill. Turn them every 5 minutes and cook until all of the skin is charred, and the flesh is soft. At this point, move them to the very edge of the grill, so they can continue to be tickled by the smoke as you cook the rack.
- Season the rack of hogget well with sea salt, then lay it, fat side down on a cooler side of the grill so that the fat can begin to render. Cook like this for 7-8 minutes, moving them around regularly to ensure an even cook.
- Once all the fat is rendered, crispy and golden, then flip the rack to cook on the other side. This time over the hotter part of the grill. Again, keep moving it around, and try to give colour to all the flesh. Cook for a further 8-9 minutes.
- At this point, move the rack to the very edge of the grill and leave to rest in the gentle warmth.
- Back to the aubergine:
- Scoop the flesh out of the aubergines and into a bowl and season well with salt.
- Once the garlic head has cooled, rub off some of the outer layers of skin and then squeeze out all the cloves, which should be soft, golden and smoky — yum! Put the garlic in a blender, with about a quarter of the aubergine, the yoghurt, and 3 tablespoons of olive oil and blitz until smooth.
- Fold this back through the remaining aubergine and add the juice of half a lemon. Mix well and taste, adjusting the seasoning as necessary.
- For the dressing:
- Mix the oregano, diced chilli, dried oregano, lemon zest and garlic in a bowl. Season with salt and a good splash of vinegar, and leave to sit for 5 minutes. Then add 4 tablespoons of olive oil and the lemon juice. Mix well and taste, adjusting the seasoning as necessary.
Carve the rack in between each rib bone and then serve a top of the aubergine, drizzling over a good bit of the dressing.