Rack of Lamb With Pecan-Mint Dipping Sauce 4.000

Scott Suchman for The Washington Post

Dinner in Minutes May 13, 2015

This cut's not your typical weeknight fare, so invite the neighbors or a pal who deserves a nice meal. Chef Virginia Willis's three-step cooking method ensures a juicy-crisped coating and a medium-rare finish on the meat.

Most racks of lamb come Frenched, which means the bones have been cleaned. If you’d like to keep them looking nice, cover them with aluminum foil before roasting and broiling. Keep in mind that the racks you buy in the supermarket will weigh a little over a pound; racks you get from your butcher may weigh 1 3/4 to 2 pounds, so they might need more oven time.

You’ll need an instant-read thermometer.

Serve with panko-crusted baked tomato halves and/or a mash of spring peas and mint.


When you scale a recipe, keep in mind that cooking times and temperatures, pan sizes and seasonings may be affected, so adjust accordingly. Also, amounts listed in the directions will not reflect the changes made to ingredient amounts.

Tested size: 4 servings

  • 1 rack of lamb, Frenched (a generous 1 pound; see headnote)
  • Coarse kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon-style mustard
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • About 12 pecan halves
  • 6 leaves mint
  • 6 sprigs cilantro
  • 1 cup plain low-fat Greek-style yogurt


Season the rack all over with salt and pepper. Let it come to room temperature for 15 minutes while you preheat the oven and prep the rest of the dish.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Mince the garlic and place half of it in a small bowl; stir in the mustard and crushed red pepper flakes.

Chop the pecans, mint and cilantro; you can pile the herbs together.

Combine the pecans, three-quarters of the herbs, the remaining garlic and the yogurt in a medium bowl; season lightly with salt and pepper, stirring to incorporate.

Grease a heavy, ovenproof skillet with cooking oil spray; heat over high heat. Add the lamb, (top) fat side down. Sear for a total of 6 to 10 minutes on all sides. Turn the rack so the top side is facing up; brush the garlic-mustard paste over it evenly. Transfer to the oven; roast for 12 to 15 minutes or until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the meat (away from the bone) registers 135 degrees.

Position an oven rack 4 to 6 inches from the broiler and move the skillet to that rack; increase the oven temperature to broil. Broil for 30 seconds to 1 1/2 minutes or until the coating is just browned but not burnt. Transfer the rack to a cutting board to rest for 5 minutes, then cut it into single or double chops.

Serve right away, garnished with the remaining chopped herbs. Pass the sauce at the table.

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Recipe Source

Adapted from "Lighten Up, Y’all: Classic Southern Recipes Made Healthy and Wholesome,” by Virginia Willis (Penguin Random House, 2015).

Tested by Bonnie S. Benwick.

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