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Add Grilled Rack of Lamb to your Repertoire!

Uncooked Rack of Lamb

Whether you celebrate Easter, Passover, or simply the arrival of Spring, make rack of lamb the centerpiece of your table. It’s not only tender, flavorful, and versatile, but it’s the perfect size for the diminished family gatherings we’ve become accustomed to during the past year.

Grilling Rack of Lamb

If you didn’t grow up eating lamb, you’re not alone. Bob Kennard, the Welsh author of a delightful book called Much Ado About Mutton (Merlin Unwin Books, 2014), noted, “I am told that someone’s uncle or father came home from the war and wouldn’t allow sheep meat in the house — they never wanted to see it again. It just went completely out of fashion.” In fact, Americans eat less than one pound of lamb per year.

That’s exactly what happened in my family. My father, a World War II veteran, unilaterally declared lamb (or any sheep’s meat) to be persona non grata at our dinner table. So I was well into adulthood before I first tasted this wonderful, mild-tasting protein. I have even given it to my notoriously-difficult-to-buy-for boss and friend, Steven Raichlen, for his March 11th birthday.

If you cannot find rack of lamb at your local grocery store, know you may have to order it from the meat department or your local butcher shop. (My local market does not carry it, but was happy to order it with a 2-week lead time.)

A friend—a dyed-in-the-wool lamb lover—has often served at dinner parties rack of lamb from Australia that she purchases from a “big box” store. Like me, she slathers it with mustard and herbs and grills it. Steven’s recipe, Rack of Lamb in a Mustard Crust, I’ve been enjoying for years, is very similar. We prefer to use racks of lamb that have been “frenched,” i.e., meat and sinew have been cleaned off the bones, leaving succulent chops.

There are subtle differences between lamb raised in different countries. I’ve enjoyed lamb from Iceland, New Zealand, Australia, Greece, Spain, Italy, and North America. In my experience, the North American lamb is the mildest. If you’re a lamb connoisseur, we’d love to hear about your favorite source!

And for maximum tenderness, we hope you cook the lamb to medium-rare (pink on the inside, but warm—about 130 degrees).

As for side dishes, lamb is a genial partner to many vegetables and grains. Try Lemon-Sesame Asparagus Rafts, Greek Garlic and Lemon-Roasted Potatoes, or risotto. As for wine, a young Bordeaux or a nice Cabernet pair beautifully with roast rack of lamb.