The racks of lamb can be seared and encrusted up to three hours ahead. Try to find the smaller New Zealand racks of lamb or Australian racks of lamb. The racks will weigh anywhere from 12 ounces to 18 ounces each. American lamb is larger and usually weighs about 2 pounds per rack. Note that if you use the larger American lamb, you will need to roast the lamb longer. For best results, use an instant read thermometer to check the internal temperature of the lamb.
Plan on 3 to 4 pieces of lamb per person on racks weighing 14 to 18 ounces. Most racks have 8 ribs (or pieces) on them so when planning your party, simply calculate the number of people you are serving times 3 to 4 pieces. Then divide the total pieces by 8 (8 pieces per rack) and you will have the total number of racks you need!
For the lamb crust
- 3 racks of lamb (about 1 1/2 pounds each), Frenched (meat removed from the bones- Your butcher can do this for you)
- salt and pepper
- 2 to 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 teaspoon dried cracked rosemary or 1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, chopped
- 3/4 cup lihgtly toasted pine nuts (pulsed briefly in bowl of a food processor )
- 3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
- 2 cups dry bread crumbs or panko (Japanese bread crumbs)
- 1/2 cup honey mustard
For the caramelized shallot sauce
- 6 medium shallots, diced finely
- 1 1/2 tablespoons butter
- 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup veal or lamb stock
- 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
- 2 to 3 tablespoons brown sugar
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch dissolved in 3 tablespoons water (optional as needed)
To prepare the lamb
Pat lamb dry. The lambs should be Frenched . Frenched means that the excess meat from the lamb bones has been removed.
Most butchers will do this for you if you request it. However, if you would like to French your own lambs, simply use a sharp paring knife
and carefully scrape the excess meat from the bone ends. The ends of the bones will later be wrapped in foil during baking so that they do not burn.
To sear the lamb racks
Season the lamb lightly with salt and pepper. Heat the olive oil in a pan large enough to accommodate at least one rack of lamb.
When it is hot, add the lamb, fat side down, and sear. Flip the lamb with tongs and briefly sear the other side. This should take about 30
seconds per side. Remove rack and continue with additional racks of lamb, adding more oil if needed. Place seared lamb racks on a paper towel
to soak up excess fat and oil.
To make the coating and to coat the lamb racks
In a bowl, combine the pine nuts, ,bread crumbs, rosemary and garlic. Place the honey mustard in a separate bowl. (please note that in the
photo to the right, I have cut the single rack which I roasted in the previous photo, in half to create a single order. This would represent a
single serving at our restaurant.)
When the lamb is cool to the touch, coat the meat only (not the Frenched bones) with the honey mustard. Roll the lamb in the crumbs and
lightly pat them to adhere. Wrap the bones with foil to avoid burning while roasting the lamb. The lamb can be prepared and refrigerated
for 2 to 3 hours at this point.
When ready to roast the lamb, have the oven pre-heated to 375 degrees. Place the lamb racks on a baking pan lined with foil which has been
lightly sprayed with non-stick food spray. Roast until the appropriate interal temperature is achieved: 125 to 130 for medium rare; 140 for
medium; 160 for well done. It will take approximately 2o to 25 minutes for the lamb to reach 125 degrees. It is best to use an instant read
thermometer to check the temperature of the lamb. Let lamb rest for several minutes, then carve and serve with the sauce below.
(see carving instructions below)
To prepare the caramelized shallot sauce
In a skillet, melt the butter. Add the shallots and saute until slightly browned, stirring frequently. Caramelize the shallots by
sprinkling the granulated sugar over them. Stir constanly for 1 minute until sugar dissolves.
Add the vinegar, stock and brown sugar. Simmer on low until reduced and sauce becomes thick. Taste and adjust seasonings with
salt and pepper and, if needed, additional sugar. Balsamic vinegar taste varys widely depending on the product. If the sauce seems
too tart, simply add a bit more brown sugar. If too sweet, add a bit more vinegar.
At the end of cooking, if the sauce still seems to thin, drizzle in a bit of the optional cornstarch mix until the desired consistancy is achieved.
The sauce can be made ahead up to two days to this point. When ready to serve, simply reheat and whisk in the one tablespoon of unsalted butter
before serving. The butter provides a bit more richness to the sauce.
To carve the lamb racks
Place the lamb rack on a cutting board with the bones facing you. Using the lamb bones as a guide, carefully cut between each lamb bone.
You will notice in the photo to the right, that I did not bread the side of the lamb where the bones are exposed. By not breading this area,
you will be able to see the bones better for carving. Bon appetite!