Prepared correctly, the rack of lamb is the most tender and prized cut. It has the false reputation of being a complex dish. It can be, but it can also be quick, simple and delicious, too. The rack can be successfully served at both formal and casual occasions. The “crown roast” is one the most beautiful meat presentations as a crown but can also be served as “lollipops” a finger food or roasted on a camp grill. It can be roasted as is, partially Frenched or fully Frenched.
Fully Frenched has nearly all the fat removed from the slender rib bones leaving only the tenderest meat. The fat cap and membrane between the ribs has been removed. A partially Frenched rack would leave a portion of the fat cap and only clean the slender ribs for approximately 2 inches. After roasting the rack is served cut into single or double rib chops. A whole rack consists of 8 ribs and serves 4 adults. Shepherd Song also has half racks available that are perfect for two. Or for a more adventuresome menu substitute a goat rack.
Choosing your Rack
- If desired, prepare the rack by removing the fat cap and membranes that connect the individual rib bones (referred to as Frenching).
- Rub with your favorite olive oil and spice with approximately a pinch of fennel pollen per serving.
- Roast to rare or medium rare (don’t overcook).
- Let the roast rest before carving for 10-15 minutes to allow the juices to reabsorb.
- Add a flavor enhancing condiment such as gremolata (chopped herbs) made with lemon jest and chopped parsley, mint, garlic, sage or other favorites.
- Serve with arugula or other fresh greens and your favorite red wine.
- Allow time for the rack to reach approximate room temperature.
- Preheat outdoor grill. If using charcoal, let the coals burn until the volatiles have been consumed and the coals are fully white.
- Rub lamb with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
- Optional: combine the parsley, thyme, and rosemary for a dry rub. Press the mixture onto the lamb (or use your favorite wet or dry rub).
- Sear all sides of the rack until evenly browned (1-2 minutes each side).
- Reduce heat and grill for approximately 15 minutes on each side. Turn once. Be careful that the rack does not burn without overly fussing with it.
- Apply a sprig of rosemary to each rack during the grilling process.
- Roast lamb until thermometer inserted diagonally 2 inches into center registers 125-130°F for approximately 20 to 25 minutes. The temperature will continue to increase while resting off the grill.
- Transfer to a cutting board. Cover lightly with foil. Allow the rack to rest for 10 minutes to allow the juices to reabsorb before carving. Serve and enjoy.
Optional Oven Roasting
- Heat oven to 350 to 400°F.
- Heat Tablespoon of oil in a large heavy skillet over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking.
- Brown rack 1 at a time, turning once, about 4 minutes per rack.
- Transfer to a roasting pan, arrange fatty sides up.
- Apply a sprig of rosemary to each rack during the roasting process.
- Roast lamb until thermometer inserted diagonally 2 inches into center registers 125-130°F for approximately 20 to 25 minutes.
- Transfer to a cutting board. Allow the rack to rest for 10 minutes to allow the juices to reabsorb before cutting.
- A rack does not need to be Frenched and many people prefer leaving the tender meat that would be removed and discarded in this process. The photo on right is an example of a partially Frenched half-rack with the fat cap remaining.
- As when grilling larger cuts of meat, sear the lamb quickly over a hot fire then drop the heat to allow the surface to brown due to the Maillard reaction (sometimes mistakenly referred to as caramelization) and for the center to more slowly roast. Use a meat thermometer so the lamb rack is not overcooked. Rare is approximately 125 °F and medium is approximate 135-140°F. Please do not go higher. Trust your thermometer and the chefs.
- Important: The chine bone (backbone) must be removed from the rack so that the chops can be separated with a knife after grilling. Sometimes it is left on to increase the weight (cost) of the rack so be sure to specify chine removed if it is not stated in the description.