Christmas is right around the corner. Don't have much time to put an elegant meal on the table? Consider making a Rack of lamb! It's easy, delicious, and can be on the table in 20 minutes, start to finish. If you've had lamb in the past and thought it was tough or gamey tasting, it was probably cooked incorrectly or was it was old.
See how nice and rosy pink these are? That's what you want.
Let's start with what to buy.
Look for "Frenched" lamb racks at the grocery store or Sam's or Costco. They are generally packaged in a vacuum sealed bag. Most stores have them on sale right now for about $10.00 a pound. If you shop at places like Whole Foods, you'll pay about $20.00 a pound.
Figure about 3 ribs per person, unless you have teenagers in the house. In that case, I would probably make a turkey as well. Or a ham. Or both.
See that big layer of fat on the top? Unlike pork fat, it does not taste good and will ruin the flavor of the rack if left on.
Take a super sharp knife and cut it off.
Get as much of the fat off as you can without cutting into the meat.
Now, get yourself some fresh herbs. Always use rosemary with lamb. They just belong together. I used fresh parsley as well. I would have used fresh thyme, but I didn't have any. Mine died. It made me cry.
Strip the rosemary needles backwards, from top to bottom, leaving the stems bare. Chop them very finely, or it will feel like you're eating sticks. Chop the parsley finely, as well. Put the herbs in a small bowl.
I admit it. Sometimes I cheat and use garlic out of a jar rather than chopping my own. Please forgive me, Julia.
Take a big spoonful and add it to the chopped herbs.
Get out the Dijon mustard.
Add a big tablespoon of the Dijon to the garlic and herb bowl.
Stir it up and set aside.
Now get out your cast iron skillet, add about 2 Tablespoons of Extra LIGHT, not extra virgin, olive oil. You want to use an oil with a high smoking point, as you're going to sear these babies in a smokin' hot skillet. You could also use peanut or avocado oil, but they're more expensive, and not really worth the $$$.
Put the skillet over high heat. Pre-heat your oven to 425 degrees (F). Open the windows and turn on the fans.
Season up the lamb. Start by pouring on some extra light olive oil, both sides.
Sprinkle both sides with Kosher salt.
And fresh ground pepper.
When your skillet is smokin' hot, brown the lamb.
Start meaty side down. Don't touch it, don't move it for 2 minutes. Using tongs, lift the rack so you can see if it is a beautiful, deep brown color. If not, put it back down. If it's browned well, hold the lamb, bones up, to sear the top of the rack.
Sear all sides until brown. I don't know why I can't flip this pic.
O.K. Take the skillet off of the stove. Smear the mustard herb paste all over the rack.
Keep the lamb in the same skillet. Stick a meat thermometer in the center of the lamb rack. Yes. You must use a meat thermometer. Because I said so. And you'll be sorry if you don't. I like the thermometer that has a probe on one end, a long wire that feeds out of the oven door, and the readout on the end. That way, I can see what the meat temp is without opening the oven.
Put the skillet in the hot oven.
The second the meat thermometer reads 120 degrees, take the lamb out of the oven, remove it from the skillet, and place it on a cutting board, covered.
I use a big mixing bowl. Let the meat rest for at least 10 minutes. It will continue to cook.
After about 5 minutes, the temp has risen to 124 degrees.
After about 10 minutes, the temp has risen to 135 degrees. Take the bowl off, and let sit 2 more minutes.
Slice lamb between each bone to make ribs.
Spoon excess paste over lamb and serve.
If you want to take this over the top, heat up a jar of mango chutney or hot plum chipotle sauce, put it in a serving vessel, and pass around the table.
1 or 2 Frenched racks of lamb
Extra light olive oil
Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper
3-4 sprigs each fresh rosemary, thyme, and parsley, chopped very fine
1 big tsp finely minced garlic
1 big Tbls Dijon mustard
1 cast iron skillet
1 cast iron skillet
1 meat thermometer
Remove fat cap from lamb.
Season with olive oil, salt and pepper.
Make the herb paste:
Put herbs, garlic, and mustard in a bowl. Mix it up with a fork and set aside.
Put about 2 Tbls olive oil in the skillet.
Heat the skillet on high until smoking.
Pre-heat the oven to 425 degrees.
Brown lamb on all sides.
Remove from stove and coat the lamb rack with herb paste.
Insert the meat thermometer into the center of the lamb.
Roast at 425 until the meat thermometer registers 120 degrees.
Remove from oven and put the lamb rack on a cutting board.
Cover and rest at least 10 minutes.
Slice between the bones.
Serve with warmed Mango chutney or Hot Plum Chipotle sauce.
Rack of lamb
Roasted brussel sprouts
Green salad with tart apples, spiced pecans, and blue cheese crumbles
Dessert of your choice
7 Deadly Zins red zinfandel