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...
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
Mom's Rack of
branches of fresh rosemary
1 1/2 pounds
waxy small-to-medium potatoes
extra virgin olive oil
ground black pepper
2 racks of
lamb, frenched*, each about 1 1/4 pounds
chopped fresh rosemary
panko, or traditional breadcrumbs
of 1 lemon
chopped fresh parsley
oven to 500°F.
rosemary branches in the bottom of a lightly oiled baking pan.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.