Saturday, May 28, 2005

Recipe: Roast Rack of Lamb

Roast Rack of Lamb, or Carré d’Agneau au Moutarde is a French favourite that is served in fancy restaurants all around the world. It is not all that difficult to prepare in the home kitchen, but unfortunately, because lamb is not a very popular meat in Singapore, it's hard to find good racks of lamb. Cold Storage sells them, but they are very tough and gritty. A better option is one of the many retail butchers that are springing up, like The Swiss Butchery, Huber's, Meat The Butcher, The Butcher etc If you find a good source, stick to it.

The lamb rack has to be Frenched. What does that mean? It means the excess fat has been trimmed and the bones have been scraped down to expose the ribs. Seriously. Thankfully, the author of a cookbook I read had a much better definition. "Frenched" basically means "get your butcher to do it". Life is far too short to be worrying about things like that.

Certain dishes are simply classics, and you will know this because all the recipes are more or less the same. Roast rack of lamb is one of them, as you will see here and here. Essential ingredients are Dijon mustard, breadcrumbs, rosemary, thyme and of course, lamb.

This particular recipe is courtesy of Anthony Bourdain, from his Les Halles Cookbook, with a few modifications.

Roast Rack of Lamb (Serves 4)

2 racks of lamb, Frenched
Salt and Pepper
2 Tbsp/28ml olive oil
2 Tbsp/28ml butter
1 Cup/225ml red wine
1 Cup/225ml lamb/beef/veal stock
1 garlic clove, slightly crushed
1 bouquet garni
5 Tbsp fresh thyme leaves
5 Tbsp chopped fresh rosemary leaves
5 Tbsp/70g Dijon mustard
1 cup bread crumbs

Feel free to use more thyme, rosemary, mustard and breadcrumbs if you need to. More in this case is better.

Rack of Lamb meez

First, your mise en place. I was only cooking for 3, and since my mother and sister have small appetites, I only needed one rack. On average, most people eat about 3 or 4 cutlets each though.

Sauce reduction

Bring your wine, stock, garlic and bouquet garni to boil in a small saucepan, then lower to a simmer. Simmer till the sauce is reduced by half.

Herbs and breadcrumbs

Mix your rosemary, thyme and breadcrumbs in a dish wide enough to hold your lamb rack(s). You can add some chopped garlic to the breadcrumbs as well, or anything that catches your fancy. Not something stupid like soy sauce though.


Brown your lamb on all sides to get the flavours going, and caramelise the natural sugars in the lamb and to help the breadcrumbs adhere to the oily surface. No wait, oil reduces friction. Whatever. Once that's done, transfer your lamb to a baking tray. Discard the oil from your pan, and pour in some of the simmering sauce to deglaze the pan. Pour the deglazing liquid back into the rest of the sauce to impart a full-bodied lamb flavour to your sauce. The sauce, incidentally, should be almost half-reduced by this time, so make sure you remember to turn off the heat.

Slathered with mustard

Turn your attention back to the lamb and slather on the mustard. Use a mild Dijon so you won't have to worry about overpowering your lamb. Try and cover everything to help the breadcrumbs stick.

Herb Crust

Coat your lamb with the herb-breadcrumb mixture, packing the crumbs as tightly as possible onto the surface of the lamb. The tricky buggers have a habit of falling off after they're roasted, so try and pack in as much as possible. If you're using two racks, after you've coated them both with crumbs, place them on the baking tray, skin sides up, bones interlocking to aid heat circulation.

Pop your lamb(s) into a preheated 200C oven for 20 minutes for medium, give or take a minute or two. If you want it well done or rare, you're crazy, so figure the timing out for yourself. If you have a meat thermometer, by all means use it.

Roast Rack of Lamb

After 20 minutes, remove your lamb from the oven and let it rest for 5 minutes. This helps to redistribute the juices and prevents excessive moisture loss when you carve the lmb. Not too long though, or your lamb will get cold. You can then proceed to cut the rack into cutlets with a sharp knife, divide it onto plates and spoon the sauce over.

Lamb Cutlets

Serve with assorted vegetables and/or mashed potatoes if so inclined.

Sleepy now, look for updates over the weekend.

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