At table, I sat to one side of Jamie, Hobart MacKenzie to the other, now looking pink and relaxed. Mary MacNab brought in the joint, and by ancient custom, set it down in front of Jamie. Her gaze lingered on him a moment too long. He picked up the long, wicked carving knife with his good hand and offered it politely to Hobart.
“Will ye have a go at it, Hobart?” he said.
“Och, no,” Hobart said, waving it away. “Better let your wife carve it. I’m no hand wi’ a knife—likely cut my finger off instead. You know me, Jamie,” he said comfortably.
Jamie gave his erstwhile brother-in-law a long look over the saltcellar.
“Once I would ha’ thought, so, Hobart,” he said. “Pass me the whisky, aye?”
More popular these days is a rack of lamb, where the loin is still attached to the ribs. It’s easy to prepare, tender and delicious, especially in this simple buttermilk marinade made from ingredients found at eighteenth-century Lallybroch, including the rosewater, which Jenny would have distilled from the petals of Ellen’s rosebush.
With a sharp knife, carefully cut between the lamb ribs to divide them into chops of equal thickness. Depending on the number of ribs per rack, you will have eighteen to twenty-four individual chops.
In a mortar, combine the oregano, coriander seeds, salt, and peppercorns. Bash and grind with the pestle until well mixed. In a small bowl, combine the ground herbs and spices with the buttermilk and ½ teaspoon rosewater. Pour over the lamb chops in a baking dish or on a large plate and toss to coat evenly. Cover and refrigerate for 1 to 2 hours.
Combine the chopped mint, vinegar, honey, and the remaining ½ teaspoon rosewater in a small bowl and mix to combine. Refrigerate while the lamb marinates.
Gently shake most of the marinade from the chops and cook by one of the following three methods.
UNDER THE BROILER: Move a rack to the top rung and heat the oven to 450°F. Arrange the chops on a broiler pan or on a wire rack set in a rimmed baking sheet. Turn on the broiler and cook until browned and at the desired doneness, 3 to 4 minutes per side for medium rare.
ON THE STOVETOP: Heat a grill pan on the stove over medium for 5 minutes. Increase the heat to medium-high, lightly brush the pan with oil, and cook the chops until browned, 2 to 3 minutes per side for medium rare.
ON THE BARBECUE: Cook the chops over a medium-high flame until browned, 2 to 3 minutes per side for medium rare.
Arrange the cooked chops on a plate and tent loosely with foil. Rest 5 minutes before serving. Serve with the mint sauce.