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Rack of Lamb

2011 April 20
by Mrs. FoodieLawyer

Lamb is not something we eat very often, and this is the first time we’ve ever cooked it at home.  But Dan has a very good, and very persuasive, friend who has been requesting a lamb recipe, so we were happy to oblige.  We decided to do rack of lamb because that is what was available in our grocery store.  Dan researched several recipes and combined certain components from each to come up with this particular dish.  It turned out great, and we enjoyed experimenting with a new (to us) protein.  This one’s for you, Dr. Z!

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The ingredients include a rack of lamb, basil, Dijon mustard, breadcrumbs, olive oil and parmesan cheese.  Other than the lamb, most of these are ingredients we generally have handy in the fridge or pantry.  (The basil is actually fresh from our garden — we plant several basil plants with our tomato plants every summer.)

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Grate the parmesan cheese.  You can also buy pregrated or preshredded cheese, but Dan is a firm believer that freshly-grated cheese tastes better.

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Add the cheese to a bowl with the breadcrumbs and chopped basil.  If you don’t have any basil, you can use just about any other fresh herb.  You can also substitute dried basil if that is all you have on hand and you want the basil flavor.

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Next add some olive oil and mix everything together.  The olive oil helps to make the breadcrumb mixture more paste-y (technical term), which makes it easier to coat the lamb.

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Rinse the rack of lamb under cold water and pat dry with paper towels.

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Next, cut several small diagonal slits in the fat on the back of the lamb.  Then cut several more diagonal slits across the meat in the other direction.  We’re not really sure why this step is necessary, but Dan saw a Youtube video where Chef Gordon Ramsey prepared a rack of lamb, and he made these same diagonal knife slits.  After making the cuts, season all sides of the lamb generously with salt and pepper.  [Update — a friend of Dan’s explains why it helps to score the fat on the lamb:  “Scoring breaks the outer tissues of the meat, including the fat.  The fat and meat shrink at different rates, which can cause the rack to curl, leading to uneven cooking. This is the same reason that fat should be pulled from the underside of pork ribs as well.”  Thanks Mike!]

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Heat an oven-proof skillet over medium-high heat, add olive oil, then sear the lamb until browned on all sides — about 5-10 minutes total.  You just want to brown it at this point because you’ll finish cooking the rack of lamb in the oven later.

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Be sure to sear the top part too.  Once the lamb is browned, place it (in the skillet) in the oven preheated to 400 degrees and cook for 7-8 minutes.

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Remove the rack to a plate and add some Dijon mustard to the lamb.

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Spread the mustard around to coat the meat on all sides.

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Then sprinkle the breadcrumb mixture all over the lamb until it is thoroughly coated.

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Place the rack of lamb back in the skillet…

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…then place the skillet back in the oven and cook until the internal temperature of the lamb is 125 degrees for rare, or 135 degrees for medium rare.

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When the lamb is done to your liking, remove the skillet from the oven and tent it loosely with foil to allow the lamb to rest for 5-10 minutes before slicing it.  Our lamb was somewhere between rare and medium rare — med-are? ra-med?

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We served the lamb with a really great side dish called panzanella that we’ll be posting soon (sneak preview — it involves eggplant, tomato and bread.)  The lamb was good, although the texture of the meat was a bit more dense than I generally prefer.  But it had good Italian flavor with a hint of richness from the Dijon.  Dan loved it — but he has a much more refined palate than I do.  Overall, we consider our first lamb endeavor a success.  Just in time for Easter!

Rack of Lamb

Ingredients:

  • rack of lamb, rinsed in cold water and patted dry
  • olive oil (1 tablespoon for searing the lamb, 1 teaspoon for the breadcrumb coating)
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil (or other fresh herb)
  • ¾ cup breadcrumbs
  • ¼ cup grated parmesan
Directions:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Cut small diagonal slits in the fat on the back of the rack of lamb in an “X” pattern.  Sprinkle all sides of the lamb generously with salt and pepper.

Heat an oven-proof skillet over medium-high heat, add a tablespoon of olive oil, and sear the rack of lamb until browned on all sides — about 5-10 minutes total.  Then place the skillet with the lamb in the oven for 7-8 minutes.

Mix together the basil, breadcrumbs and cheese.  Drizzle in a teaspoon of olive oil and stir all the ingredients together. Remove the lamb to a plate and coat all sides of the lamb with Dijon mustard.  Then coat the lamb on all sides with the breadcrumb mixture.

Place the rack back in the skillet and put the skillet back in the oven.  Cook the lamb until the internal temperature is 125 degrees for rare, or 135 degrees for medium rare.

Remove the lamb from the oven and tent it loosely with foil to rest for 5-10 minutes before slicing.

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