This is a sophisticated way to serve rack of lamb, with a restaurant-quality sauce. It will take about 2 hours, start to finish, but the sauce and most of the prep work can be done 1 day ahead.
Most grocery stores sell racks of lamb that have been frenched, or trimmed to expose the rib bones, but to look really perfect, they require more trimming. For a special occasion, it's worth the extra money to go to a butcher who will take the racks "all the way down," removing the extra flap of fat from the loin, cutting away the meat between the ribs and scraping the rib bones clean.
- For the lamb
- 2 racks (20 ounces) lamb (8-bone), chine bone (backbone) removed, frenched
- 2 teaspoons smoked Spanish paprika
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1 clove garlic, crushed
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- For the jus (yields 1/2 cup)
- 8 ounces lamb riblets or shoulder blade lamb chops
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 medium skin-on onion, halved
- 1 carrot, cut in half, ends trimmed
- 1 stalk celery, cut in half crosswise
- 1 cup dry red wine
- 3 cups water
- 4 sprigs thyme
- 4 sprigs marjoram
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 1 teaspoon smoked Spanish paprika
- 1 clove garlic, crushed
Prepare the lamb for cooking: Wrap each bone with a strip of aluminum foil to prevent discoloration during cooking. Coat the meat liberally on both sides with nonstick olive oil cooking oil spray. Sprinkle each side with smoked paprika, salt, pepper and thyme, then rub the garlic clove all over the meat. Place the racks on a plate and cover them loosely with plastic wrap; set aside at room temperature.
To make the jus: Separate the meat from the riblets. (If using shoulder blade lamb chops, remove the meat from the bones and cut it into 2-inch pieces.)
In a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, heat the oil until it starts to smoke. Brown the lamb meat and bones for about 3 minutes on each side. Transfer to a plate and set aside; carefully drain any excess fat from the pan. Add the onion, carrot and celery, then return the pan to medium-high heat. Brown the vegetables for 1 minute. Return the browned lamb and bones to the pan. Add the red wine, then add the water, thyme, marjoram, salt and pepper. Bring the stock to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium-low and cook for 1 hour. Strain the mixture into a small saucepan, discarding the fat and solids. (There will be about 1 cup liquid.) Place over medium-high heat and add the tomato paste, smoked paprika and garlic. Cook for 10 to 15 minutes or until the stock has reduced by about half. Strain and set aside.
To finish the lamb: In a large, ovenproof saute pan or skillet over medium-high heat, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil until it starts to smoke. Remove any pieces of crushed garlic from the lamb. Place the racks in the pan with the top sides down and the foil-covered ribs extending over the sides of the pan. Sear the racks on 1 side for about 4 minutes, until well browned. Turn the racks over and remove the pan from the heat.
At this point, the lamb in the pan can be cooled to room temperature, covered with foil and refrigerated for up to 1 day. Before roasting, remove the pan from the refrigerator, uncover and let stand for at least 1 hour.
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Roast the lamb racks for 11 to 13 minutes, until a meat thermometer inserted in the center of the meat registers 125 to 130 degrees. Transfer the pan to the counter and cover loosely with foil. Let the meat rest for 15 minutes before serving. Discard the foil wrapped around the ribs.
To serve, cut each rack in half. Cut each half into two 2-rib chops. Turn 1 chop over and interlock the ribs. Place the chops on a dinner plate and top with a spoonful of warm Smoky Jus.
Recipe by David Hagedorn.
Tested by Michael Taylor.
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