Quick, easy rack of lamb

Okay, time to break the political tension with another recipe. (One of these days, I’ll index all of these things, but not tonight.) I realize I get no points for plating on this one, but you can certainly work this into a nice-looking presentation.

Lamb is a real treat and it’s one of those things I like to get when I’m eating out in a nicer restaurant because I don’t often see cuts that I like in the grocery store and the rest of the family has never shared my love for lamb. But like a lot of other things, it’s not that difficult to prepare and you can serve four people for the price of similar dinner for one in a restaurant, so why not give it a shot? If your butcher can’t help you, I’ve found that Sam’s Club is a reliable source of very nice, frenched, New Zealand racks of lamb.

Here’s what you need:

  • One large, oven-safe skillet. (Sure, metal is oven-safe — but take a look at the handle for insulators that can’t handle high heat.) I have a 12-inch copper core stainless steel pan that is fabulous, but even if you find one on sale, it can set you back several hundred dollars. A good alternative is a nice, seasoned cast-iron pan.)
  • Aluminum foil
  • Two racks of lamb. (Yes, you can do just one, if that’s all you need.)
  • Extra Virgin olive oil
  • Garlic powder
  • Herbes de Provence. (This aromatic blend of spices includes rosemary, marjoram, thyme and savory.  It is worth having around the house for a lot of things, but it’s indispensable for rack of lamb.)
  • MEAT THERMOMETER!
  • Sharp boning knife

First, take your frenched racks of lamb and rub them with garlic powder. Then coat them with a little olive oil and Herbes de Provence. I like to put them in a gallon Ziplock bag and let them marinate in the spices and oil for an hour or two, but it’s not really mandatory.

When you’re ready to get rolling, preheat the oven to 425 degrees and give it enough time to get there.

On a rangetop burner, heat your pan up with a thin layer of olive oil and brown the racks for about four minutes per side. (We’re not trying to cook them through, but simply give them a nice finish. Don’t put them in the pan until it’s hot.)

When the racks are done browning, take foil and cover the bone ends to keep them from burning in the oven.  Then put the whole pan with the browned racks into the pre-heated oven. It will take 20-25 minutes to bring them up to 130 degrees on the interior, which you will be checking with your meat thermometer. Once you’re there, remove the pan from the oven. Tent the racks with a piece of foil and let the meat rest for 10 minutes; then slice them into chops with your boning knife like the ones you see above. Voila, you’re done.

I like to serve them with something simple like a steamed vegetable and maybe some parsleyed, quartered little red potatoes. A bottle of red Bordeaux wine is a nice companion to this dish.

YOUR HOT TIP on this one is literally your hot tip: the pan is hot before you put the racks in to brown and the oven is hot before you put the racks in to cook.

Bon appetit!

JR

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