Friday, September 10, 2010

Rack of lamb

Traveling in New Zealand last winter (well, it was summer there), we had some truly fabulous lamb -- including as part of our cabin-cooked New Year's Eve meal near Abel Tasman National Park. But then, we were in the hands of experts: good friends, one Canadian and one French, who are posted to Auckland. They are also fully responsible for our ability to cook mussels. And polenta. And ham. Oh, dear.

We finally bought a rack of lamb (New Zealand lamb, no less) from the British Pantry and worked up the courage to cook it. The result? It's easy. It's fun. And it is splendid -- splendid -- to eat. We served it with boiled potatoes (not exciting, I know, but simple), steamed bok choy (rare to find here, and excellent) and rosemary-garlic butter.

This is a fancy meal, and relatively expensive. But it's worth it for the taste, the look, and the wondrous smell of lamb, rosemary and butter.

Rack of lamb with rosemary-garlic butter

What you need (3-4 servings):
  • ~2 lb. rack of lamb, Frenched (get your butcher to French it for you -- home knives won't do the trick)
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 garlic cloves, sliced thinly
  • 3-4 rosemary branches
  • 75 g butter
What you do:
  • Preheat oven to 425.
  • Heat an oven-proof skillet over high heat. Meanwhile, season the rack with pepper.
  • Turn heat to medium-heat and sear the rack: place it meat-side down in the dry (do not add any fat) skillet for 2 minutes, and then turn it over for 2 more minutes. 
  • Pour off any fat from the skillet, and place in the oven. Roast for 15 minutes. Here is where the size of your rack matters: for a 2-lb rack, 15 minutes is perfect. For larger racks, up to 20 or 25 minutes will be needed. We had a 1.7 lb rack, and 12 minutes gave us rare-medium lamb.
  • Meanwhile, melt the butter over medium-low heat. Once melted, add the garlic slices and the rosemary branches. Simmer very gently as the lamb cooks.
  • Once lamb is done, remove from oven and let sit for 5 minutes before slicing.
  • Remove the rosemary from the butter, and serve the rack 3-4 ribs per person with butter poured overtop.

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