This recipe is elevated by using high-quality ingredients, and especially fresh American lamb, which chef Cathal Armstrong prefers over the lamb that is frozen and imported. Lamb raised in the Shenandoah Valley is available at the Organic Butcher in McLean and at Wagshal's Market in Northwest Washington; find fresh turnips at farmers markets.
- 2 pounds turnips, peeled, trimmed and cut crosswise into very thin slices
- 3/4 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste
- 2 1/4 cups heavy cream
- 2 racks of lamb, bones trimmed (frenched), 12 to 14 ounces each)
- Canola oil, for the skillet
- Extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling
- Sel gris (organic French sea salt), for finishing
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Lightly grease an 8-by-8-inch baking dish with nonstick cooking oil spray.
Toss together the turnip slices, salt and pepper in a large bowl, then layer the slices evenly in the baking dish. Drizzle the cream on top. Bake for about 1 1/4 hours, until bubbly and browned on the top; the turnips will be tender in the center when pierced with a knife. Transfer to a wire rack to cool while you prepare the lamb.
Heat a large cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat.
Cut both of the lamb racks in half to make 4 equal portions; season all over with salt and pepper to taste.
Pour just enough oil in the hot skillet to coat the bottom. Add the lamb and sear for a few minutes on both sides. Reduce the heat to medium and cook, turning as often as necessary to brown all over, for about 20 minutes or until the internal temperature of the meat registers 135 degrees on an instant-read thermometer (medium-rare) or longer, depending on the desired degree of doneness.
Transfer the racks to a cutting board; let rest for about 5 minutes before cutting each rack in half (so there are two 2-chop portions for each serving). Divide among individual plates; drizzle with extra-virgin olive oil and sprinkle with the sel gris. Serve warm, with portions of the gratineed turnips.
From chef Armstrong of Restaurant Eve, Eamonn's a Dublin Chipper and the Majestic, all in Alexandria.
Tested by Bonnie S. Benwick.
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