Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Rack of lamb

Some time ago, I promised my boyfriend that I would cook him a rack of lamb. Monday night was D-Day. Rack of lamb doesn't come cheap (at least $13/lb), so I was really hoping to succeed in my maiden voyage of cooking this adorable little creature. Happily, it all turned out just fine.

Since it was marked as "easy" and from a trusted source, I went with Gourmet magazine's recipe for Rack of Lamb with a Rosemary Scallion Crust:

1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 teaspoon dried hot red pepper flakes
1 garlic clove, minced
3 tablespoons thinly sliced scallion including the green part
1 teaspoon dried rosemary, crumbled*
1/2 cup fresh bread crumbs*
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 1/4-pound trimmed and frenched single rack of lamb (7 or 8 ribs)
3 tablespoons mayonnaise
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard*

* I used about 1.5 TBS of fresh rosemary
* I used store-bought bread crumbs, and they worked just fine
* I switched the ratio of mayo/mustard, since my preference leans toward a stronger Dijon flavor

Preheat the oven to 475 degrees F.

In a small skillet heat the oil over moderate heat until it is hot but not smoking, add the red pepper flakes, and cook them, stirring, for 10 seconds. Add the garlic and cook it, stirring, for 30 seconds. Add the scallion and the rosemary and cook the mixture, stirring, for 10 seconds. Stir in the bread crumbs and salt and pepper to taste and remove skillet from the heat.

Heat an ovenproof skillet over moderately high heat until it is hot. Season the rack of lamb. Brown the lamb turning it, for 5 minutes, or until the sides and the ends are browned evenly. Pour off any fat from the skillet, arrange the lamb, fat and meat side up.

In a small bowl stir together the mayonnaise and mustard until thoroughly combined. Brush or spread the mayonnaise and mustard mixture over the fat and meat side of the lamb. Pat the crumb mixture evenly over the mustard.

Roast the lamb in the middle of the preheated oven for 15 minutes, or until a meat or an instant read thermometer registers 130 degrees F for medium-rare meat. Transfer the lamb to a carving board, let it stand, uncovered, for 10 minutes. Carefully cut the rack, between the rib bones, into individual or double chops taking care not to loosen the bread crumb mixture from the meat.

Things to note:
- my grocery store sells lamb racks in cute little 4-chop packages, so I bought and prepared two. Though this recipe calls for 7-8 ribs to serve 2 people, I found that 2 ribs each were plenty.
- Trim off most of the fat - almost more than you think you should. I made the mistake of leaving too much fat on the racks, so the crust wasn't right on the meat, and therefore the majority of the crust ended up being removed with the fat. Lamb's not very lean, so there is no real need to leave that much fat on for flavor.
- Cooking time ended up being about 20 minutes for medium-rare, as these were on the thicker side. Letting the meat rest is essential!

Though I was disappointed with the superfluous fat on the chops (I am my worst critic), I have learned to cook rack of lamb. The meal was really quite lovely overall, and the meat was very tender and tasty.

Served with boiled red potatoes, simply seasoned with S&P, butter, and rosemary; and a red leaf salad with gorgonzola, dried cranberries, and pistachios. A glass of cabernet complemented the lamb beautifully.

1 comment:

Beth said...

Oooh, that sounds good. The one time my fiance and I made lamb it was for my dad who can't eat garlic or spice or anything he deems "weird." We just flavored it with rosemary and dry mustard and oil. It was good, but I've been meaning to try a more flavorful recipe ever since.