Most people in this country seem to have a love/hate relationship with lamb. I personally, am not typically a fan—I’d never order it on a menu and I very rarely prepare it at home—but it really depends on the cut and how it’s prepared. Let’s just say that I have an open mind about lamb, but I’m not generally impressed.
I remember a few years back my husband’s stepmother prepared a lamb and aubergine (eggplant) tagine for dinner during a visit back to the UK. I was anxious the entire day...these were two ingredients that I Did. Not. Like. But I also didn’t want to be rude, so I took a big gulp of wine and a timid taste. It was glorious. I couldn’t stop eating it, and even had a second helping.
So, I’ve learned not to judge. Which is why I was fairly easily convinced that serving a rack of lamb would be an excellent centerpiece for a holiday dinner. And it’s true. This dish is definitely impressive.
Be sure to purchase the best quality, ideally grass-fed, lamb that you can source and from a reputable butcher. This is the time to lay down the bucks, especially if you are cooking a special dinner. Look for deep red color, and ask your butcher to “French” the ribs, which means that the tops of the rib bones are cut and exposed.
Sear the lamb until you get a nicely browned crust and then finish it in the oven until it is perfectly medium-rare (or medium, but don’t go further than that). The addition of an herbed butter and plenty of garlic adds great flavor to the succulent meat as well.
Serve this with a cheesy gratin (such as Brussels sprouts or cauliflower gratins) roasted sweet potatoes or even a butternut sformato and some fluffy dinner rolls and you will be well on your way to a decadent holiday meal that you’ll never forget.
Recipe: Roast Rack of Lamb with Herb Butter
Makes 6 servings
- 2 Frenched lamb rib racks (each with about 8 bones)
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- Salt and freshly ground pepper
- Olive oil
- 5 tbsp unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1 tbsp minced fresh rosemary
- 1 tsp finely chopped thyme
- 1 tsp finely chopped mint
- Rub the lamb all over with the garlic, season with salt and pepper, and drizzle with a few tablespoons olive oil. Cover with plastic wrap and let sit at room temperature for about 1 1/2 hours to come to room temp. (Or refrigerate overnight and let come to room temp for 1 1/2 hours before cooking.)
- Preheat the oven to 400°F. In a small bowl, stir together 4 tbsp butter with the herbs.
- In a large cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat, warm 1 tbsp olive oil until hot. Add the racks, fat side down, and sear until browned, turning once or twice, about 5 minutes.
- Flip the lamb and rub the herb butter over it. Transfer to the oven and roast, basting once or twice with the butter, and turning the racks halfway through, until cooked to your liking, about 20 minutes depending on the size of the racks. Check the temp with an instant-read thermometer: 125°F for rare, 130°F for medium-rare.
- Slice the racks into chops to serve.