Rack of lamb is one of the easiest roasts to prepare, yet to serve it just right requires attention to time and temperature.
Buy the meat from a professional butcher and choose American lamb because it’s meatier than the New Zealand variety, though not always as easy to find.
Buy a rack that is “frenched,” with all the bones removed except the ribs and almost all the fat and silver skin as well; some fat is necessary to keep the roast moist and prevent it from drying out as it cooks.
A full rack has eight ribs; be sure to insist on a cut closest to the loin, with at least eight ribs between the shoulder and the leg.
For an attractive presentation, roast the whole rack and then slice rosy pink slabs on the bone to create “lollipops.” Serve three to four per person.
For the plum compote
4 black plums, pitted and sliced thinly
10 leaves of fresh mint, chiffonade (shredded)
1 teaspoon sherry wine vinegar
Salt and pepper to taste
For the lamb
1 tablespoon coarse sea salt
1 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
1 teaspoon dried oregano
½ teaspoon ground mustard
1 pinch cayenne pepper
1 8-rib rack of lamb, frenched
2 tablespoons of olive oil
For the carrots
12 baby carrots with greens attached (six per serving)
1 teaspoon fresh ginger
1 clove garlic
1 teaspoon honey
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon sherry wine vinegar
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon pepper
1 sprig of thyme
Make the compote first.
Combine all ingredients in a bowl at least one hour ahead of time to marinate. Serve at room temperature.
As a rule of thumb, plan for 10 minutes of roasting time for each inch of thickness.
Roast the Lamb
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
Mix together the salt, pepper, oregano, mustard and cayenne in a small bowl and coat the roast with the mixture. Drizzle the meat with the olive oil. Allow the roast to marinate for 10 to 15 minutes.
Arrange the roast on a roasting rack and place in the oven. After 10 minutes, reduce the oven temperature to 325 degrees. Avoid opening and closing the oven because doing so lowers its temperature and affects the cooking time. Cook the meat for an additional 10 to 15 minutes.
Check the internal temperature of the roast with a meat thermometer; the probe end of the thermometer should be inserted into the center of the thickest part of the meat for an accurate reading. Look for an internal temperature of 120 degrees. Lamb should be served medium—pink but not “blue” in color. Once the roast is cooked, remove it from the oven and allow it to rest for 10 minutes; it will continue to cook for a few minutes after it comes out of the oven.
Slice the roast along the bone of each rib.
Roast the Carrots
Trim the greens of the baby carrots, leaving 1 inch of greens from the top. Peel the carrots. Toss the carrots with the rest of the ingredients. Allow to marinate for 10 minutes.
Heat an oven-proof skillet over a medium flame for about 2 minutes. Toss all the ingredients into the pan. Place the pan into the oven along with the lamb roast and roast for 20 minutes.
A plum compote, which should be made at least an hour ahead, is served as a side dish along with the baby carrots.
See photos of the process below.