5.21.2016

Problem Solved!

My mother made the best rack of lamb.

Hers is a recipe so easy to make that I call it "Monday Night Lamb." It takes minutes to prepare, and only 30 minutes to roast, which means you can have an elegant dinner on the table in less than 45 minutes on any given Monday night. There was only one problem...

Her recipe was a combination of several, and even included some cooking instructions from Julia Child. Actually, it was Julia's instructions that caused the problem. (Forgive me, Julia!). The high heat that Julia uses to sear the meat causes intense spattering, making an unholy mess of the oven and lots of greasy smoke fills the house. Markipedia is not amused.

I tried several things to remedy this: building up the sides of the roasting pan with foil; lowering the temperature; over-trimming the lamb; and testing different places in the oven. I tried everything I could think, but nothing seemed to work. In the end, we avoided making rack of lamb for years, even though we love it.

When in Memphis, Tennessee, recently, visiting friends Lea and Steve (I have known Lea since junior high in 1970), I made Mom's rack of lamb. I warned them about the spattering and they didn't seem to care.

They had some red potatoes on hand, and we decide to roast them as a side dish. Then I had my stroke of genius. (Well, maybe not genius...) I decided to minimize the number of pans in the oven, and I roasted the lamb on top of the potatoes in the same pan.

To my amazement, the potatoes absorbed the fat and kept it from spattering and smoking, and they cooked nicely with the lamb drippings. It was a win-win situation.

Skeptical that it was a fluke, I tested it again when I got home for our friends Laura and Arch, and it worked again.

Today, I made it the same way, but with one more change. I first lined the pan with rosemary branches so that some of the fat would go through the potatoes, producing a less fatty potato, while infusing them with rosemary. A great success!  Next, I may try a bed of thickly-sliced onions under the potatoes.

I served this with the wonderful Pétale de Rose rosé I mentioned when I made the Persian Baked Fish several weeks ago. It was a great combination; a Cabernet Sauvignon, Zinfandel, or hearty red blend would also work well.

Voilà! Problem solved; recipe evolution complete… for now.

~ David

Mom's Rack of Lamb, Redux

8-10 ten-inch-long branches of fresh rosemary
1 1/2 pounds waxy small-to-medium potatoes
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
salt
freshly ground black pepper
2 racks of lamb, frenched*, each about 1 1/4 pounds
4 tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary
1 shallot, finely minced
6 tablespoons panko, or traditional breadcrumbs
grated zest of 1 lemon
3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
4 tablespoons melted butter

Preheat the oven to 500°F.

Place 8-10 rosemary branches in the bottom of a lightly oiled baking pan.

Cut the potatoes into 1/4-inch slices - or thinner - and place in a large bowl. Drizzle with olive oil and season well with salt and pepper. Cover the rosemary branches with the potatoes. Place the potatoes in the oven for 10 minutes to begin their roasting.

While the potatoes are in the oven, wash and pat dry the racks of lamb. Score the fatty side in a diamond pattern, and top each rack with 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard. Sprinkle each with 1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary.

After the potatoes have roasted for 10 minutes, place the lamb on top and return to the oven for 10 minutes. Note: the photos show only one rack, as I was making this for two people, but this recipe is for two racks.

Meanwhile, mix together the shallot, breadcrumbs, parsley, and lemon zest. When the lamb has roasted for 10 minutes, remove from the oven and lower the temperature to 400°F. Divide the breadcrumb topping between the two racks and press it lightly into the mustard coating. Drizzle with the melted butter and return to the oven. Roast for 20 minutes more.

Remove the roasting pan from the oven, and place lamb on a cutting board, and cover with foil. Let the meat rest while you are plating the veggies and potatoes Remove potatoes from the pan and divide among 6 plates. Slice lamb and place three ribs on each plate. Serve immediately.

Serves 6.


    * "Frenching" isn't kissing! It is the process of trimming the end bones of fat and gristle up to the point where the saddle begins. Most racks of lamb in the U.S. is sold this way already, but you can ask the butcher to do it if it isn't already done.


34 comments:

  1. Hi David, my husband would love this. How clever to bake the lamb on top of the potatoes, such a elegant dish.

    We are now in the PNW, still getting settled. Heard they had 20 inches of rain in December. Take care!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Cheri - just dumb luck that it worked, but now I will do it every time! Have a good time in the NW this summer!

      Delete
  2. I hate spattered ovens. It's the main reason I don't make Thomas Keller's roast chicken as much as I'd like to. When I remodeled my kitchen I put in a range with 2 standard ovens. I knew they'd be hard to clean being under the stovetop, so I also added a small wall-mounted combination microwave/convection. I use that oven for messy jobs because it's so easy to clean. I could have saved a few bucks if I'd have known about the potato trick. GREG

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oooh. I have been craving a micro-convection combo for a long time - just to have a second oven! Glad to know it is easy to clean. Someday, it will be mine... (And now I need to find Thomas Keller's chicken recipe!)

      Delete
  3. Looks so delicious! I bet the potatoes are great too! This sounds like something I need to try for an elegant dinner at home. When you only make it for two people is all the baking time the same and everything?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Caroline - the cooking time is exactly the same whether you do one or two. I hope you and Mike like it!

      Delete
  4. The smell of this while cooking would have been incredible, David. I think I'd be mopping up those juices with lots of bread! Not until I chomped into that perfectly roasted lamb, of course.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I actually loved the potatoes with ALL the lamb fat - they were awesome... I just know I need to be a little more careful of my fat intake. :)

      Delete
  5. David, I love that those potatoes helped solve the spattering problem. I tend to stay away from dishes that make big messes too. I'm bookmarking this post! When Evan gets home, I'm gonna make this for an elegant grown-up dinner for two. I wish I could have some right now, looks wonderful! :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I hope you and Evan like it, Marcelle! Worse than cleaning the oven after these big messes, is the smell in the house for the next several days!

      Delete
  6. David, I use small red fingerling potato and put them whole. They cook nicely, pick up the flavor from the lamb without all the fat. The rosemary sounds like a nice addition I will try next time.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I will have to try using whole fingerlings - I might roast them a bit longer first, because the lamb cooks so quickly.

      Delete
  7. Beautiful. Problem definitely solved! So happy to see medium-rare lamb!!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Mimi - I, too, am always appalled by overcooked lamb!

      Delete
  8. What an amazing story David! I'm sure it wasn't too much of a hardship having to test the recipe again! I try to get a lamb from a local farm in the fall. Unfortunately, the small town butchers usually don't go beyond lamb chops in cutting sophistication.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sorry it is so hard to get a rack of lamb locally, Inger. Have you actually spoken to the farmer? Maybe no one ever asked!

      Delete
    2. The small farmers have a hard time finding good butchers at all now. Apparently it is somewhat of a dying art--isn't that sad? I could get a rack of lamb in Milwaukee. A few years back I did a great lamb crown roast (with oyster dressing in the middle). Ah, so much good food, so little time...

      Delete
    3. That is really sad. Out here in the West, cattle, pig, lamb, and goat farming is very big, and thriving. Lucky us! Your crown of lamb with the oyster stuffing sounds wonderful.

      Delete
  9. Dear David, lamb is very popular around here and we love it too. I can get really good quality lamb at a butcher not too far from where we live and I can see myself following your advice and making your "genius recipe" - sometimes things just fall in place perfectly...
    Liebe Grüße,
    Andrea

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Andrea - I always feel very lucky when something works, even if by accident! I hope you enjoy the lamb , and wish you all a beautiful weekend!

      Delete
  10. David - I'm so glad you found not only a clean but tasty way to prepare your mom's lamb. This sounds wonderful - we love lamb plus potatoes and rosemary. Thank you for sharing!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Nicole - and you can definitely do this with GF bread crumbs!

      Delete
  11. Oh my, It looks so yummy. Love how easy is to make it. Thank you!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Cindy - that is what I love about it, too. So easy!

      Delete
  12. Simply genius, David! Love the lining the pan with the rosemary idea! Now I'm hungry for lamb and potatoes!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Christina - wish I had thought of this year's ago!

      Delete
  13. I've had the pleasure of enjoying this meal with you--it is as wonderful as it looks, fellow readers--but I did not see you prepare it. A work of art indeed.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Susan. This is back in our rotation now that I have figured out the spattering issue!

      Delete
  14. The lamb looks beautiful! But you know I'd have to pass! I think it's the lamb fat that bothers me so no potatoes for me either :) The rest of my family however would LOVE this!
    Great idea with the splattering problem. I really detest that about roasting anything. I do so many chickens and my oven's a nightmare.
    I'm glad the lamb is back on your repertoire!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The potatoes and rosemary would work beautifully for chicken, too! Thanks for commenting, even though I know you don't love lamb. :)

      Delete
  15. David, this looks and sounds AMAZING! I love lamb and rosemary. Love your description Markipedia not being amused by the splattering. You're funny. Wish this was for dinner. :-)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Valentina! I have to say that it IS pretty good - definitely worth trying! Sometime, we will have to have dinner together!

      Delete

Thank you for taking the time to leave me a note - I really appreciate hearing from you and welcome any ideas you may have for future posts, too. Happy Cooking!

If you would like to receive follow-up comments, simply click the "Subscribe by E-mail" link to the right of the "Publish" and "Preview" buttons.