If you’re looking for a main dish that will make a bountiful and impressive presentation for Easter Sunday, a crown rack of lamb is an elegant choice. I made a small one, because there’s just the two of us at home now, but you can buy larger racks of lamb, or use three racks instead of two to serve a bigger crowd.
I’d never tried to make a rack of lamb before, and was a little intimidated about how to make it stand up and look like a crown, but as is the case with so many recipes, it’s a matter of following directions. In addition to the basic trimming of extraneous fat, you need some string to tie the two racks into a round shape, and the chop bones need to be trimmed and covered before cooking. (It looked a little like I was giving the lamb highlights, with all the little bits of foil twisted and sticking up around the rib bones.) The marinade is adapted from the Ottolenghi cookbook, a honey-coriander combination that is surprisingly fiery, thanks to the chili peppers. I love this recipe because it manages to taste Middle Eastern and Mexican at the same time.
The inside of a rack of lamb just begs to be filled with something delicious. I’ve piled little purple onions, new potatoes, carrots, asparagus, and turnips inside, and garnished the base with pea shoots. Please don’t let the formality of the presentation put you off – you can heap the lamb chops and veggies into a bowl as casually as you like, which is how I served this meal. It’s a comfortable form of hospitality that puts guests at their ease.
(I don’t normally recommend wines because budgets and tastes vary wildly, but this is particularly nice with a Syrah or a Zinfandel.)
Adapted from the Ottolenghi cookbook
Serves: 6 (2 racks of lamb of 6-8 ribs each))
Prep time: 1 hour and fifteen minutes plus time for lamb to marinate
- 2 racks of lamb
- Scrape each rib with a sharp knife to remove fat or excess meat attached to the rib;
- clean it to just above the loin.
- Trim back excess fat on the loin, but leave a thin layer of fat to keep the meat juicy.
- With bones facing up, cut down through the flesh of the loin just enough to allow the rack of lamb to bend.
- Bend rack into a semicircle, and using kitchen twine, tie the racks together at the base and the center.
- Wrap each rib with aluminum foil and marinate at least four hours, or overnight.
For the marinade:
- 1 cup mint leaves, chopped
- 1 cut flat leaf parsley, chopped
- 1 tablespoon of fresh ginger, peeled
- 6 cloves of garlic, peeled
- zest and juice of one lemon
- 1/3 cup soy sauce
- ¼ cup honey
- ¼ cup sherry vinegar
- 1/3 cup canola oil
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon ground pepper
- Combine ingredients in a blender and process until smooth.
- Reserve half of the sauce for serving with lamb.
- Pour remaining sauce over the lamb and allow to marinate for four hours or overnight.
When ready to cook:
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
- Drain marinade from the rack.
- Place rack of lamb in a large roasting pan and roast for 35 minutes, or until temperature reaches 130 degrees inside for rare meat.
- Remove from oven and cover with foil, allowing it to rest for 20 minutes.
- Remove twine.
- Fill center of lamb with sautéed vegetables and serve.
- 1 medium sized turnip, cut into cubes
- 3 carrots cut into 3-inch pieces
- 1 cup asparagus tips
- 2 cups baby new potatoes cut into 3-inch pieces
- 2 cups small purple onions
- 3 tablespoons butter
- Heat butter in a sauté pan.
- Add carrots, potatoes, onions, and turnips and cook until tender.
- Add asparagus and cook for one minute.
- Season with salt and pepper and serve with remaining marinade as a sauce for the lamb.