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How to Grill the Perfect Rack of Lamb


Confession time: I have never grilled lamb. I’ve devoured it with gusto at Barbecue University and on the set of Steven’s TV shows. But grill it? I’m embarrassed to say no.

So, when Holy Grail Steak sent us a gorgeous Sonoma County rack of lamb that was raised in the heart of California’s wine country, well, what better way to get started?

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In never having cooked lamb before, I’m not alone. We Americans don’t eat much lamb—we average something on the order of less than two pounds per capita per year. (Compare that with the annual per capita consumption of 65 pounds of chicken and 55 pounds of beef.). But in this case, we’re outliers.

Travel the world’s barbecue trail and you’ll find vast numbers of lamb grillers. Lamb is the meat of choice for most of North Africa, the eastern Mediterranean, the Middle East, Central Asia, South Asia, and on down into Southeast Asia. On any given night, probably more people on Planet Barbecue are grilling lamb than any other meat.

Not that I needed convincing to fire up my grill. Here is how it all came together.

How I cooked Rack of Lamb

Beginning by making a spice rub for the lamb, spices that have an affinity for lamb. Then I toasted fennel seed, cumin seed, coriander, and black peppercorns in a medium hot dry skillet, let them cool, and pulsed the spices a few times in a spice mill to create coarse texture. If you do not have a spice grinder, use a mortar and pestle. To finish the rub, I added kosher salt and dried mint.

Rack of Lamb

Mint and lamb pair perfectly, so I also prepared a mint chimichurri to serve with the lamb. It consisted of finely chopped mint, parsley, and oregano, one finely diced shallot, four finely chopped garlic cloves, the zest and juice of one lemon, and olive oil.

The Big Green Egg EXL (BGE) was set for indirect grilling and heated it to 400 degrees. I added two cherry chunks to the coals to create wood smoke.

Next, I scored the lamb in a crosshatch pattern. The scoring looks cool, but it helps the rub to penetrate the lamb and release the fat has it melts. I painted the entire rack of lamb with Dijon mustard to add flavor and to help the rub stick the lamb. Also made sure to generously season the lamb with the spice rub and then placed it in the center of the BGE. I inserted the probe of a digital meat thermometer to track the temperature.

Rack og Lamb in the Big Green Egg

The high heat of smoke-roasting and the toasted spice rub created a tasty looking crust on the rack of lamb. Once the crust developed on the lamb, I basted it with melted butter using a bundle of fresh mint as my basting brush. I cooked the lamb to an internal temperature of 135 degrees for medium-rare.

The Results

After resting the lamb for ten minutes (do not skip this step or your lamb will be dry and the cutting board will be juicy). I sliced the rack of lamb into individual chops. The lamb chops looked juicy, and the blend of spices created a great crust on the lamb. The lamb was luscious, tender like a filet mignon, and delicious. I liked the contrast of texture between the crust created by the spice rub and the succulent lamb. The spice rub was flavorful, but not overpowering. The mint chimichurri added a freshness to each bite of lamb. I enjoyed the mint-shallot-garlic-lemon mix in the chimichurri. I served the lamb with grilled asparagus, smoke-roasted potatoes, and a grilled fennel-red onion-mint salad.

Rack of Lamb resting

Rack of lamb will be a repeat on the menu at my house based on the ease of preparation, short cooking time and the rave reviews from my wife, mother, and sister who joined me for my first, but not my last, go-around with lamb.

Recipe for Rack of Lamb

Rack of Lamb with Toasted Spice Rub and Mint Chimichurri

Rack of Lamb

Get The Recipe »

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