The first time I attempted to conquer the intimidating Rack of Lamb was Mother’s Day last year. I was so terrified of overcooking it that I kept pulling it out of the oven and testing it’s temperature every few minutes. Note to self: don’t do that! It not only throws off your cooking time, but it also can make the cook of your meat uneven.
Thankfully I had a bit of luck on my side, and the lamb came out a perfect medium rare. Lamb should be on the rarer side of medium rare pretty much at all times. When cooked just right, it’s tender and melts right in your mouth. The flavor really can’t be beat.
I thought it would be fitting to take on the Rack of Lamb for Father’s Day this year in my second attempt. I used the same marinade as I did last time, but this time instead of pairing it with a ratatouille, I made a celery root and cauliflower puree with some roasted radishes. The flavor combination was phenomenal. It’s like a more fun and interesting take on the traditional “steak and potatoes” and I really wish there had been leftovers to eat for lunch today. Unfortunately the meal was devoured by my family faster than you can say “can you pass the salt?” Despite my sad lack of leftovers, I always take this as a sign of a meal well enjoyed.
I served this Lamb with some pesto crostinis that I made from the fresh vegetables in my yard and a Chamomile Panna Cotta Tart for dessert.
for the lamb:
- 2 racks of lamb (about 1 1/4 lbs each, frenched)
- 4 sprigs rosemary + more for finishing
- 3 cloves garlic
- 2 shallots
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- salt + pepper to taste
for the puree:
- 1 large celery root
- 1 medium head cauliflower
- 1/2 cup cream
- 1/2 cup softened butter
- 2 tsp garlic powder
- salt + pepper to taste
for the radishes:
- 3 bunches radishes
- 1 tsp cumin
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- salt + pepper to taste
roasting pan, cast iron skillet or medium saute pan, blender, gallon ziploc bag, meat thermometer
At least a few hours before you want to start cooking the lamb, you’re going to want to start marinating it. Mince garlic and shallots, and chop rosemary. Combine mixture with olive oil, salt + pepper. Score the fat on the top of the lamb in a diamond pattern and slather marinade all over both sides of lamb, excluding the bones. Place lamb in a gallon ziploc bag and set in the fridge to marinate.
Preheat oven to 425F. Clean radishes and remove tops. Cut into quarters. Peel celery root and cut into four pieces. Core and cut cauliflower into large florets.
Place celery root on a baking sheet and roast in the oven for about 30 minutes. When you have about 20 minutes left, add cauliflower to the baking sheet and continue to roast. When both are fork tender, remove from the oven and dump into your blender. Add cream and butter, then season with salt and pepper. Blend until smooth. You can keep this warm until the rest of your meal is complete by simmering it on super low in a covered saucepan.
Raise oven heat to 450*F. Take lamb out of marinade and rinse thoroughly. Pat dry with paper towels and season with salt and pepper. Heat your cast iron skillet to blazing hot and place racks fat side down until golden brown – about 7 minutes. Place racks on baking sheet so that their bones are interlaced and they are propped up so that the heat can get to both sides of the meat.
Roast at 450 for 10 minutes, then lower temp to 300 and cook for another 8 – 10 minutes depending on the size of your lamb. Lamb is done when the internal temperature of the thickest part of the meat has reached your ideal cook.
Rarer side of Medium-Rare: 125*F
Medium Rare: 135*F
While your lamb is cooking, heat olive oil in a saute pan or cast iron skillet and toss in radishes. Cooking on medium high heat, stirring occasionally. Season with cumin, garlic powder, salt + pepper. Saute until they start to turn golden and are fork tender.
Once your lamb is done, rest it on your baking sheet for about 10 minutes before slicing.
Slice lamb rack in between the bones and down through the meat, trying to make them all about even thickness. Place a large dollop of puree on the plate, sprinkle some roasted radishes over the top and give each person about 3-4 pieces of lamb each. Sprinkle with a little more salt and some freshly chopped rosemary.
Tips + Tricks:
*it’s VERY important to time your lamb while cooking it and to use a meat thermometer to test doneness. You’re not really going to be able to tell how much it has cooked internally without the thermometer and there is nothing sadder than overcooked lamb.
*”frenched” is a term that means the bones of the rack of lamb have been cleaned of all meat and connective tissue. The butcher at your local market can usually do this for you. If you’re buying lamb that comes in a vacuum sealed plastic bag, usually it’s already been frenched for you.