You may not agree with me but there is something unbelievably sexy about a rack of lamb. That is providing it is prepared correctly. One requirement is that the butcher cuts the meat in the French style. The French scrape the fat and cartilage off the tips of the rib bones. Look at the picture in step 1. That is pretty much what you should expect from your butcher, and it is the beginnings of a proper rib roast. But, in my opinion, it is not as visually striking as what I have prepared in step 2. The long slender bones with a small “noisette” or “tournedo” of meat at the tip. Now that is a sexy piece of meat.
Lamb being a strong flavor makes it also somewhat of an acquired taste. There are ways to get around the strong flavor. You can mask it with other strong flavors like garlic, rosemary, mint, and lemon. But take it easy with these masking flavors. Try to wean yourself off them. You will gradually begin to enjoy these stronger flavors.
- Rack of lamb
- Sea salt
- Black pepper
- Onion slices
- Pork lard
Roast Lamb Recipe: Frenched Rack of Lamb Seasoned with Black Pepper and Sea Salt and Roasted
- Purchase a rack of lamb from the butcher. A rack of lamb should be no more than 9 ribs long. A 10th rib will contain shoulder meat that won’t be tender. The fat of lamb should always be white and firm. The meat should be pink, firm, and lean, which is to say not heavily marbled. The lamb bones should be stained with red. Don’t buy lamb with yellowish fat and solid white bones. This lamb is too old and will taste like mutton, and the meat will be tough. Preheat the oven to 350° F.
- Trim off any remaining fat and scrape the bones clean. Just above the large round tube of meat is a large deposit of fat. Occasionally meat will have developed here but not usually enough for you to worry about. That, of course, depends on the breed of sheep and how old it is. Use your boning knife to cut the fat off the meat. First, follow the meat around to the bones, and then follow the bones up until you have removed all the fat. Then cut the bits out from between the bones and scrape the bones clean.
- Season the lamb with salt and pepper. Lay the strips of fat on top of the meat and put it in the oven. The meat would dry out otherwise. You may use some form of pork fat if you would prefer. I don’t know if I would use smoked bacon as it is a strong flavor. Perhaps salt pork. I had to use this baking dish because I was already using my roasting pan to roast duck. But if you put some thick onion slices at the bottom of the pan to elevate the meat and keep it out of the fat it will work just as well. Put the lamb in the preheated oven. Insert a metal thermometer probe into the thickest part of the lamb, set the temperature alarm for 120° F, and close the door.
- When the lamb has reached 120 F, take it out. Turn the oven up to 500° F and remove the fat from the meat. You are now going to crisp up the meat. Since you are cooking a tender piece of meat, it is recommended that you cook it rare. But, if but if you must cook it beyond that as so many people insist, use the following temperatures as a guide: rare is 140° F, 150° F for medium, and 160° F for well-done. Put the lamb back in the oven once the oven is up to heat.
- After the lamb has reached temperature, let it rest. Take the meat from the oven and set it on a hot pad. Drape a piece of foil loosely over the meat. Let it rest for 10 minutes. Cut the rack of lamb into serving pieces by cutting between the ribs. If you make a gravy from the pan drippings, watch out for the fat. It will be strong in flavor, which is perhaps another reason to use pork lard. A chimichurri would be nice. I’ll give you my recipe in the upper right corner.
Tips & Tricks
- Roasting is always done better when the meat is cooked uncovered. When a roast is covered, it introduces steam, which dries out the meat because it is such a harsh way to cook. Covered dish roasting is essentially braising, which should be reserved for tougher pieces of meat.
- Get yourself a thermometer with a probe that can be in the meat while it cooks in the oven. These digital thermometers are perhaps the best thing to happen to roasted meats since the invention of the wire roasting rack. These thermometers eliminate the old unreliable usage of time as a means to judge level of doneness. Temperature is the best way to tell how far cooked something is. So invest in a thermometer pronto.
- Lamb meat should be pink, firm, and lean. Lean means that there shouldn’t be too much inter-muscular meat. Not because its bad but because it indicates an older lamb. The fat should be firm and white. Yellowish fat is a sign of an older lamb. The bones should be slightly tinged with red and moist-looking. Firm white bones are also a sign of an older lamb. The flavor of older lamb is closer to that of mutton, and it will be chewier. Lamb is in season from April through October, so it can be argued that the lamb purchased during this time will be better. But since lamb is in season year-round in other countries like New Zealand and Australia, we can continue to eat it throughout the year.
Chimichurri Sauce Recipe
- 2 cups minced parsley
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 Tbsp fresh oregano, minced (optional)
- 1 Tbsp Peppadew, minced (optional)
- 1 Tbsp tomato, minced (optional)
- 1 tsp salt
- ½ tsp red wine vinegar
- ½ tsp lemon juice
Mix all ingredients together in a bowl. Add enough olive oil to make a sauce, and let the mixture sit out for a few hours at room temperature. Serve on cooked meat.