Monday, December 28, 2009

Rack of Lamb

It's holiday time, and racks of meat certainly make for an impressive centerpiece. I've struggled with lamb as a "healthy" food - as it can be quite fatty. However, a well cut rack of lamb should have most of the fat removed by the butcher, and we can remove even more before cooking. Cooking methods matter. Roasting seals in moisture, with the additional benefit of draining away additional fats. Sometimes when meats are roasted without a covering of fat they become dry, but there's a few tricks that can be used to make sure meat doesn't dry out. Several of those tricks are used in this recipe. First of all, searing meat before roasting helps retain moisture during cooking. Adding a crust works to help retain additional moisture. Finally, make sure you allow the meat to "rest" after removing from the oven. This allows the juices to redistribute throughout the meat, so they won't flow out of the meat onto the cutting board.


2 racks of lamb, each about 1-1/4 pounds
1 tsp olive oil
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1/2 cup panko (dried bread crumbs)
1 cup fresh Italian flat leaf parsley
2 Tbs dried basil


Preheat oven to 425 F. Remove any excess fat from racks of lamb, making sure the areas between the chop handles are cleaned of fat. Mix panko, parsley and basil in a food processor or blender and pulse until well blended. Spread mixture on a flat surface like a plate or a sheet of wax paper. Heat olive oil until hot in a large saute pan. Season both sides of lamb racks with salt and pepper. Add lamb racks to hot pan and sear on all sides until brown, about 1 minute per side. Remove lamb from pan and roll in bread crumb mixture until well coated on all sides. Place lamb racks on an ungreased baking sheet and cook in the preheated oven until internal temperature reaches about 125 F for medium rare, about 18 minutes. Begin testing lamb for temperature at about 12 minutes, and continue testing every few minutes, as the size of the racks vary, so the cooking time will also vary. When done, remove the racks from the oven, tent with foil, and let rest for 10 minutes. Cut into chops and serve.

Serves 4 - 6

Stealthy Cooking Tip: Removing visible fat from meats before cooking can often lead to dry meats. Substituting a crust for the fat will help your meat retain its succulent flavor, while reducing the fat content.

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