There are few words that light up Mr. Cs eyes like the word “lamb”. He loves lamb just about any old way. But this recipe for rack of lamb that I adapted from an R.S.V.P. request in Bon Appétit a few years ago is one of his favorites. Mine too! In fact, I have never served it to anyone who hasn’t been absolutely charmed. Truly, what’s not to like? Rosemary, I’m convinced, was considered just a weed until someone paired it with lamb. And hearty red wine, you have a better use for it? And Dijon mustard, who ever invented it must have had lamb in mind. So you combine these three wonderful items with a few others simpatico ingredients and you are about to experience the real reason God gave us all those sheep to count!
So, if you are looking for something different and wonderful to serve on Christmas or for any other special occasion, this is the recipe for you. Just keep your side dishes fairly plain. Although a lovely rich cheesy potato gratin is very festive, it would not be as good with the rack of lamb as plain roasted potatoes. And a simply prepared dish of green beans or peas would be my choice for a veggie. Believe me the lamb is rich enough to carry the whole meal. Plan on 2-3 rib chops (we call them lamb lollypops) per person. Two racks of lamb are perfect for 4 people with maybe a couple left over if you’re lucky. (I personally have never been that lucky, but I’m sure the day will come. Probably the same day donkeys fly to the North Pole to visit Santa!)
- 1 c. Demi-Glace (under This & That) or 4 c. low sodium beef broth reduced to 1 cup
- ¼ c. dry red wine (like a hearty merlot)
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 ½ tsp. chopped fresh rosemary, divided
- kosher salt
- freshly ground black pepper
- 2 T. extra virgin olive oil, divided
- 1 lg. shallot, minced
- 3/4 c. dried breadcrumbs
- ½ c. finely chopped kalamata olives (about 4-oz.)
- 2 racks of lamb, room temperature (remove from refrigerator about 2 hours before needed)
- 2-3 tsp. Dijon mustard (depending on size or the racks)
Sauce: Combine the demi-glace (or reduced beef broth), red wine, garlic, bay leaf, and ½ teaspoon chopped rosemary together in a small heavy saucepan. Bring to a boil, partially cover, and simmer on low for about an hour or until reduced and thickened. (Watch carefully during this time.) Season the sauce lightly with salt and pepper. Set aside until the lamb is ready to serve. Can be made ahead of time.
Breadcrumb Mixture: Meanwhile heat 1 tablespoons olive oil in a large heavy fry pan. Add shallot and remaining teaspoon of rosemary; sauté until soft, about 3 minutes. Add breadcrumbs and sauté until well blended. Stir in kalamata olives and lightly salt and pepper to taste. (Don’t over salt because other ingredients, like the olives themselves and the Dijon mustard also contain salt.) Remove mixture from pan and set aside.
Lamb preparation: Add remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil to pan. Fry racks of lamb rounded side down until evenly brown, about 5-6 minutes. Transfer to a large rimmed baking dish or pan, seared side up. Spread with Dijon mustard. Press reserved bread crumb mixture onto lamb. Roast lamb in a pre-heated 400 degree oven for 12-15 minutes or until a meat thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the meat registers 125 degrees for rare or 135 for medium rare. Remove from oven and loosely tent with aluminum foil for 6-8 minutes. Cut lamb between bones and serve with reserved sauce.
Great served with simple oven roasted potatoes, a green vegetable, fresh fruit salad, chewy bread, and the rest of the bottle of merlot. (If it’s still around that is!)