Tue Sep 6, 2011
Sorry if I left you hanging a little last week without any grand gesture for labor day—although, if you tried the beef satay, you know that it's nothing to scoff at—but I'm keeping good to my word and giving you something special now, this mustard and herb-crusted rack of lamb. Whether you consider this grandiose is subjective, but for me, I rarely cook lamb at home, and a doing a whole rack of lamb is like dream come true.
The reason this is such a big deal is mainly due to the scarcity of lamb in my household. I love the rich and full flavor of lamb, while my wife doesn't really care for it. That means on the few occasions I do cook lamb, I usually go for cheaper cuts, knowing that there could be a fair amount left over if I end up being the only one eating it. This has left rack of lamb off the menu at home completely, although I jump at the chance to order it at a restaurant.
This being my first rack of lamb, I let my butcher do the prep and consulted the always handy Cooks Illustrated on how to perfectly cook this somewhat awkward piece of meat on the grill. They recommended a multi-step process that started with cooking the rack fat-side down, close to the coals, over a two-zone fire, rotating half way through for even cooking.
After a nice brown crust had formed, the lamb was removed and slathered with Dijon mustard.
Then a mixture of bread crumbs, parsley, mint, and rosemary was applied to the top of the mustard, which worked as a "glue" to hold this tasty coating on.
The lamb then went back onto the grill, again not completely over the coals, and let cook until it hit 130 degrees for medium-rare.
My mouth was watering even before slicing into this lamb, but after seeing the perfectly pink meat, I was so over joyed. This had everything I love about rack of lamb—a silky meat that has some of the richness of heavier cuts, like the shank, but is more smooth and was just all around pinnacle of flavor. The herb crust was also fantastic, but I was in it for the meat, being all too happy to eat the portion my wife didn't finish. This was a truly special meal for me, and I hope it may just convince some of you that, while Labor Day has past, the best of grilling may still lay ahead.
Mustard and Herb-Crusted Rack of Lamb
1 cup fresh bread crumbs
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh mint
1 teaspoons minced fresh rosemary
1 teaspoon salt, divided
1 teaspoon black pepper, divided
1 tablespoons olive oil
2 frenched 7-10 rib racks of lamb, trimmed of all but a thin layer of fat, about 1 1/2-2 pounds each
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1. Mix the bread crumbs, parsley, mint, rosemary, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper together in a small bowl. Drizzle with olive oil and stir to combine. Set aside.
2. Let the lamb come to room temperature while preparing the grill. Light one chimney full of charcoal. When all the charcoal is lit and covered with gray ash, pour out and arrange the coals on one side of the charcoal grate. Set cooking grate in place, cover gill and allow to preheat for 5 minutes. Clean and oil the grilling grate. Season the racks liberally with salt and pepper. Place the lamb fat side down close to, but not directly over the coals. Cover and grill until well browned, about 8 minutes, rotating 180 degrees half way through. Remove racks from the grill and place fat side up on a platter or cutting board.
3. Spread the mustard over the fat side of the lamb. Carefully press the breadcrumb mixture into the mustard into each rack.
4. Place the racks back on the grill, fat side up, close to, but not directly over the coals. Continue to cook until an instant read thermometer registers 130 degrees when inserted into the side of the rack, another 8 to 10 minutes. Remove from the grill and let rest uncovered for 10 minutes. Cut between each rib into chops and serve.