Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Dijon Herb Crusted Rack of Lamb with Garlic Herb Potatoes


What can I say?  I love rack of lamb.  It's something I don't eat often.  As a matter of fact, I hardly ever cooked lamb because my kids and husband wouldn't eat it.  It all started one Easter when my children were very young.  I decided to make a leg of lamb for dinner.  Paul made it known that he wasn't a fan.  I was convinced that he did not like lamb based upon some bad lamb experience he had as a child.  I was going to change his mind.  As soon as the lamb hit the oven, and its aroma filled the house, Paul began making baby lamb noises.  Melissa began to cry, and Matt decided at that moment, he will never eat lamb.  Paul continued to make his baaaaaaa... baaaaaaa sounds, until the roast was done.  I ate alone that Easter,  like I was the monster that killed the lamb?  It really wasn't fair; no one ever made moooing, oinking, or clucking noises when I cooked their favorite meals!

Fast forward about 15 years.  Paul begins to open his mind to lamb...Matt still wouldn't eat it, Melissa hardly ate any meat.  I would occasionally order it when we would dine out; perhaps lamb in a Merlot reduction, grilled baby lamb chops or my favorite, rack of lamb.  Paul would taste it with an open mind.   A friend once served a grilled, marinated leg of lamb and Paul decided that lamb was not so bad after all.  Yes, I think he was traumatized by overcooked mutton before I met him.  Now that the kids are living on their own, I am free to cook what I please without fear of traumatizing anyone.  That's exactly what I did this past Sunday.

I knew Paul would be watching the Daytona 500.  I was feeling ever-so-slightly guilty because I kind of put the kibosh on taking a trip down to Daytona and Florida this week .  I wasn't quite ready for a vacation.  I'm also not a race fan.  I've humored Paul by going to a few races, I just can't share in his enthusiasm.  To make up for my selfishness, I decided to make Paul a special dinner, one that he wouldn't have had in Daytona.  Rack of Lamb, I decided.  I'm going to make him LOVE rack of lamb!  I figured if I encrusted the lamb in enough garlic, herbs, spices, and crunch...how could he resist?  As long as I was mincing up fresh herbs, I minced up a few more for some roasted potatoes.   A good bottle of red wine didn't hurt either.  You know what?  I think I have a full fledged convert on my hands!
Dijon Herb Crusted Rack of Lamb
Serves 2 or 3
Preheat oven to 450 degrees

Ingredients:
  • 1 rack of lamb, frenched and trimmed of excess fat
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt, divided: 2 pinches on the meat and the remainder in the crust
  • fresh ground pepper
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil, divided: 2 tablespoons in skillet, reserving 2 tablespoons for crust
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 cup panko
  • 2 tablespoons minced garlic
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh rosemary
  • 1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme leaves
Directions:
Take rack of lamb out of refrigerator.  Allow it to sit for 45 minutes before cooking.
Pat meat dry with paper towel.  Season with 2 pinches of salt and freshly ground pepper.

Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a heavy skillet that is large enough to accommodate the whole rack of lamb.  A cast iron skillet works well for this.
When oil is hot, sear the rack of lamb for 2 minutes on all sides.
Remove from skillet and allow to cool for a few minutes while you prepare the panko mixture.

In a large pie plate, mix the panko, garlic, rosemary, thyme, 2 tablespoons of olive oil  and the remainder of salt and a few turns of fresh pepper .

Brush rack of lamb with Dijon mustard.  This acts as the "glue" for the panko crust.

Place the rack of lamb in the dish of panko and gently pat the crumb mixture on to the lamb until evenly coated, leaving the bones exposed.


Cover the ends of the bones with aluminum foil.

Pour off any excess oil and fat from skillet, leaving a thin coat.
Place the rack bone side down in the skillet and roast in the center of a 450 degree oven for 15 minutes.  Turn heat down to 350 degrees and roast another 5 to 10 minutes.  After 5 minutes at 350, check temperature with an instant meat thermometer in the center of the meat, trying not to hit the bone.  Internal temperature should be 130 degrees for medium rare. 

Remove from oven and skillet.  Cover loosely with foil and allow to sit at least 5 minutes before carving.  Gently carve between the ribs, taking care not to disturb the crust.  Serve with garlic herb potatoes.
    Garlic Herb Potatoes
    Preheat oven 425 degrees
    • 1 pound small red potatoes
    • 1 tablespoon minced fresh rosemary
    • 1 teaspoon fresh minced thyme
    • 2 cloves minced garlic
    • 2 tablespoons olive oil
    • salt and pepper
    Scrub potatoes, cut them into quarters or halve the smaller ones.  

    Put potatoes in an oven proof dish.  Drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with garlic, herbs and salt and pepper to taste. Toss to coat potatoes.

    Place in 425 degree oven and roast for 45 minutes, stirring once half way through roasting, until nicely browned.

      When roasting potatoes at the same time as the lamb, I start roasting them at 425 for 20 minutes, before I put the lamb in the oven.  Then I continue to cook them along with the lamb - 450 for 15 minute and 5 or 10 minutes at 350.



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