A deceptively simple lamb recipe that allows the inherent tastiness of the ingredients really shine.
By Ann Kaufman
During the winter months, our whole family takes on a bear-like quality. We bundle up, lay together in a pile and generally hibernate. The only exception to that is that everyone seems to want to eat, for lack of a better word, “big meat.” Is it because we’re storing calories up so that we can brave the cold? Yeah, that (and not general gluttony) must be the reason.
One of my favorite weekday (yes, weekday) recipes is this very, very easy roasted lamb rack using just three main ingredients: lamb, rosemary and tomatoes.
Right before the season’s last gasp on really good tomatoes, I found a few boxes of really plump, juicy miniature heirlooms on sale at our neighborhood grocery store. I usually buy my lamb racks Frenched (get your mind out of the gutter! I mean with the fat/membranes/meat removed to separate out the rib bones from the meat), which makes not only for a beautiful presentation once the racks are roasted but also makes for a convenient holding stick for eating the lamb. This recipe came to me by way of Bon Appetit magazine years ago, and it’s become an ingrained part of my recipe brain (also in that brain, lest you think I’m some sort of recipe savant, is a terrifying large number of quotes from “Friends.” I guess sometimes brain holds what the heart wants it to?)
Anyway, I usually roast two racks of lamb at one time, because no one ever just eats one or two of these little ribs once I’ve cut them apart. The lamb roasts under high heat over a bed of the heirloom tomatoes, which burst while they’re cooking in the oven. As a result, the racks absorb the tomato juices, which de-emphasizes the natural gaminess of the lamb and provides added flavor where a marinade would do otherwise. Every time I pull my roasted racks from the oven, our dinner guests (or my family, depending on who’s around) always seem way more impressed than they should be. Either that, or they’re just hankering for lamb and know the quickest way to get to them is to compliment the cook. After a quick rest (to let the meat re-absorb some of the juices lost during cooking), I slice these babies up between the ribs and serve them to anyone walking through the kitchen. Everyone eats lamb differently — some are nibblers, others rip at the ribs like Fred Flintstone — but my favorite people to watch are the ones who use the lamb ribs as a pointer to emphasize while they chit-chat.
I mean, if there ever was a meat to be used as a conversation piece, this would be it.Print