Sunday, January 12, 2014

Herb marinated Rack of Lamb

This was the main course for last year's Christmas. I served one rack of lamb among 4 people. We had several other dishes too. It was my first time grilling a rack of lamb, and yes I was nervous about serving it to guests. So I timed it exactly as mentioned in the recipe and it turned out medium (light pink center). I wasn't really able to enjoy the dinner because I was hosting too. So I decided to try it again this Christmas. Maybe this one's going to become a traditional Christmas meal for us? Time will tell..

1 lamb rack (about 8 to 9 ribs)
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus 2 tablespoons
4 garlic cloves, unpeeled and crushed
6 parsley sprigs, chopped
2 (4-inch) rosemary sprigs, crushed
6 thyme sprigs, crushed
4 rosemary sprigs, for garnish
Freshly ground black pepper
Coarse Sea salt

Clean the rib bones well by scraping off meat and sinew with a small sharp knife. Cut the racks in 1/2 so that each has four ribs. Mix together the olive oil, crushed garlic, chopped parsley, crushed rosemary and thyme sprigs in a large bowl. Add the lamb and coat well. Grind some coarse black pepper over all. Wrap well and marinate the racks overnight. (I used a ziplock bag for this. Dump all the ingredients, close and shake it to coat well. Leave it in the fridge overnight.)

The next day remove the lamb from the marinade and scrape off as many herbs as possible. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Heat a large saute pan over medium-high heat and add 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Season the lamb well with salt; no additional pepper should be necessary, and sear fat side down until golden, about 7 minutes.

Turn over so that the fat side is up and roast in the preheated oven for 20 to 30 minutes. Let the rack rest for 10 minutes before cutting.

To serve, cut each lamb rack into 4 equal pieces, 2 bones per chop and serve on individual plates or a platter with the accompaniments of your choice.

1. Rack of lamb is simple to prepare and quite elegant for a proper dinner party. Racks have become so popular and expensive in the U.S. that chefs have turned to overseas sources to supply their restaurants at a much cheaper price. There are many New Zealand producers selling lamb with no added hormones or antibiotics. I buy a rack that's produced in Australia. The herb marinade for the rack really perfumes the meat if it is done a day or two ahead of time. The same marinade can be used for many other cuts as well. It is best to remove as many of the herbs and garlic before roasting as they will burn and create off flavors.
2. This year I added another 3 minutes to the oven time so the center wasn't pink (almost well done, but still juicy).
3. This maybe gross for some people. While searing the meat on the saute pan, you will notice some blood oozing out of the bones. I usually take a clean paper towel and press against those areas to absorb and remove the blood. I did this again when I got it out of the oven. Here's a comparison of the bloody and not so bloody rack: