Written by Chris -
Easter is right around the corner, so I thought I’d share my favorite spring lamb recipe! If you are having a few people over, this recipe is for you!
When it comes to recipes, I don’t “do” complicated. I just don’t. Perhaps when my kids are grown, I will change my tune. But, for now, I like keeping it simple, delicious and nutritious.
Take this recipe, for example. I am using a rack of lamb – not a crown roast or leg of lamb. All taste delicious, but a rack of lamb is hands down the easiest to prepare.
In the spirit of keeping it simple, I took a couple shortcuts with this recipe. I purchased the rack of lamb already frenched (more on that term later). I also used premade Buitoni pesto. Buitoni All Natural Pesto is really good, friends! There’s no need to make pesto from scratch – let Buitoni do the work for you. I did add a little fresh mint and lemon juice to the pesto – mint pairs so well with lamb and lemon adds a nice zing!
Back to the term “frenched”… this just means that the rib bones are exposed (see picture below). Most racks are packaged frenched. If they aren’t, you can ask your butcher to french them for you.
I usually buy Australian or New Zealand lamb from Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s or Costco – it’s a bit leaner and less expensive. One rack typically has 7 to 8 ribs, and this will feed 2 to 3 people. I’ve finally graduated to two racks for my family of five. (I was really taken back by how much my boys like lamb – very nice surprise!)
The cooking time depends on how big your rack of lamb is (most are packaged at 1 ½ pounds), and how rare you want it cooked. Rack of lamb should be cooked rare, or at most medium rare. The instructions I’ve provided are for two 1 1/2 pound racks (roast time is the same for one rack). Be sure to use a meat thermometer to check for doneness. I prefer it to register between 125-130° F which is on the rare side. Once it’s pulled out of the oven, as it rests, the temperature will continue to climb a few degrees.
If you have a large oven-proof skillet, it will work great with this recipe! If you don’t own one or are unsure if it’s oven-proof, simply sear the racks in the skillet you have, and then transfer them to a rimmed baking sheet that’s been lined with foil. The foil isn’t required, but it sure makes for easy clean up!
Ingredients for 6 servings (2-3 chops per serving):
- 2 (1 ½ pounds each) frenched racks of lamb (about 8 ribs each)
- Kosher salt and ground black pepper
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1 container (9 ounces) BUITONI Refrigerated All Natural Refrigerated Pesto with Basil, at room temperature
- 1/3 cup chopped fresh mint leaves
- 2 tablespoons water
- 1 to 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
TRIM excess fat from the lamb.
ALLOW lamb to come to room temperature for about 30 minutes before roasting. When it’s at room temperature, it will cook evenly. Season the lamb on all sides with salt and pepper.
PREHEAT oven to 400° F.
HEAT the oil in a large oven-proof skillet over medium-high heat. Place lamb racks, fat-side-down, in skillet; sear until browned (this should only take a few minutes – you just want them browned). Turn racks over and sear other side. At this point, I like to drain the oil from the skillet so it doesn’t spatter in the oven. Turn racks meat-side up; place skillet in the oven for 15 to 20 minutes or until thermometer placed in thickest portion registers 125-130° F (medium-rare). It’s best to check it at 15 minutes, especially if your oven runs hot.
TRANSFER lamb racks to a work surface and cover loosely with foil; let them rest for 10 minutes. Don’t skip this step – this is what makes the lamb so tender and juicy! Now is a good time to prepare the pesto sauce since it takes only a few minutes to put together.
COMBINE pesto, mint and water in medium bowl; stir well to combine. Stir in 1 tablespoon lemon juice. Taste and add 1 more tablespoon if you prefer more tang. You might question why I added water to the mixture. I wanted it to be a little thinner in consistency – it’s just a matter of preference. I love the tang the lemon juice provides, but didn’t want to add too much. I could have also added more oil, but I didn’t want to add the calories. So water it was!
Cut the lamb between the bones into single chops. The chops above are too done for my taste, but they are cooked to perfection for my kids. They like their lamb medium, and this was their rack. The lamb in the image below was cooked rare to medium-rare. Just the way I like it!
Arrange chops on plates; drizzle with pesto. That’s it! This is truly one of the easiest recipes to prepare. I hope you enjoy it as much as we do!
|Marinated Leg of Lamb||Baked Cola-Brined Fresh Ham|