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Anytime I’m faced with a special occasion where I want to impress our dinner guests, I head straight for my local butcher and purchase two racks of lamb, which have been Frenched. The term Frenched might be unfamiliar to you, but it’s the process in which the fat and membrane has been removed from the ribs, giving the rack a more elegant, refined appearance. Of course, you could do this on your own at home, but if you’re like me and hate the texture of raw meat, you do as little as possible when it comes to slicing and trimming the meat yourself.
As a kid, I loved eating lamb. Problem was my mother refused to cook it or allow it to be cooked in her kitchen, the smell, she claimed, reminded her of a product that was used to wash sheep in 4-H prior to the fair. Needless to say, I was a depraved child having to go to restaurants and stranger’s homes to get my lamb fix. Just kidding about the stranger part.
Since all-forms of cooking lamb were banned, the bulk of my lamb experience has come in adulthood, stumbling along with cooking methods and ingredients. After destroying several racks over the years, I’ve finally figured out what works best for my cooking abilities and taste buds.
This is a perfect recipe for New Year’s Eve—cook one rack with six to eight ribs and you’ve got yourself a pre-celebratory dinner for you and your signifiant other. Double the recipe and you can feed your family of four. It’s tender and succulent, I never have any left overs. Serve with a side of our twice cooked rosemary potatoes and you’ve got yourself a fabulous dinner!
- Zest of 1/2 lemon
- 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 1 1/2 teaspoon crushed rosemary (I use fresh since I have a rosemary bush, you may substitute for dry)
- 1 1/2 teaspoon crushed dried thyme
- 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 rack of lamb, Frenched
- Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
- 1 lemon, cut into 8 wedges
- In a small bowl, stir together the lemon zest, garlic, rosemary, thyme and 2 tablespoons olive oil. Spread the mixture evenly over the racks of lamb, cover and refrigerate overnight.
- Preheat an oven to 400ºF.
- Season the racks of lamb with salt and pepper. In a large ovenproof sauté pan over medium-high heat, warm the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil. Add the lamb and cook until browned on both sides, about 7 minutes total. Transfer the pan to the oven and cook until the lamb is well browned and an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the racks, away from the bone, registers 130ºF for medium-rare, about 15 minutes, or until done to your liking.
- Transfer the racks to a cutting board and let rest for 5 minutes. Carve into individual chops and serve the lemon wedges alongside if you'd like.
This cut of meat can compete with heavy tannin wines such as Merlot or Grenache, we personally enjoyed our rack with a few glasses of Rhone.