Lamb has been our meat of choice for our Easter/Spring celebration for many years. My family of four enjoys rack of lamb, so years ago I adapted a recipe from one of my favorite cookbooks, “The Complete Meat Cookbook” by Bruce Aidells and Dennis Kelly (Houghton Mifflin Company, 1998). (If you like this cookbook you may want to look for Aidells’ 2012 version, “The Great Meat Cookbook: Everything You Need to Know to Buy and Make Today’s Meat”)
I call my adapted recipe Mustard and Herb Roast Rack of Lamb. The key is ordering trimmed and frenched racks of lamb from your local butcher or supermarket. Trimming means the chine bone and fat have been removed, leaving the rib eye of meat intact. Frenching means the intercostal meat and fat have been removed from between the ribs. Pre-trimmed New Zealand and Australian lamb racks are often available. American lamb will be larger in size, more expensive and is usually untrimmed, so a phone call ahead to the butcher to ask for the trimming will be helpful. This makes the presentation much more attractive and easier to carve.
I like to serve the lamb with a tossed mixed green salad and roast asparagus, which will be just coming into season. I trim the tough ends from a large bunch of asparagus and arrange the spears in a single layer in a shallow baking dish, drizzle with 1 tablespoon of olive oil, season them with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper and roast at 475F alongside the lamb for 8 to 10 minutes for crisp-tender, depending on the thickness of the stalks. I sprinkle grated Parmesan or Romano cheese over the asparagus after plating. Roast fingerling or small red potatoes also make a nice accompaniment to the meal.
Mustard and Herb Roast Rack of Lamb
Serves 4 to 6
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- Two racks (8 bones each) lamb loin, trimmed and frenched (about 2 pounds total)
- 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
- 1-1/2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary leaves
- 1-1/2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme leaves
- 1-1/2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
Heat oven to 475 degrees . Sprinkle salt and pepper over both sides of the lamb. Place a heavy 12-inch (not nonstick) ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat and add 1 tablespoon of the oil. Place the lamb racks in the skillet meaty sides down and sear for 2 minutes. Use tongs to hold the rack with the bones vertical and sear the top meat for 1 to 2 minutes. Finally, sear the bone side for 1 to 2 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and let rest several minutes. (If you do not have an ovenproof skillet, transfer the lamb racks to a shallow roasting pan.)
Stir together remaining 1 tablespoon of the oil with remaining ingredients. Spread the mixture evenly over the meaty sides of the lamb. Cover the bones with foil to prevent blackening. Roast for 12 to 18 minutes depending on the degree of doneness you want. (Internal temperature for rare: 125 to 130 degrees, Medium-rare: 130 to 140 degrees, Medium: 140 to 150 degrees). Let the lamb rest a few minutes before serving. Discard foil from bones and carve between the ribs.