Lamb is a super fancy meal that needs to be roasted forever and should only be eaten on seasonal occasions, right?
No way, Jose!
Yes, it can be fancy, and yes it most certainly should be eaten during the holidays, but I am a firm believer that rules are meant to be broken, so won’t be letting any of this restrict me… oh, but it is Easter, so why not just go with it?
Lamb can be considered fancy, possibly because of its price tag – but really, anything can be made fancy these days, can’t it? Seriously, we don’t cook a lot of lamb in our household – and to be honest with you, I’m not sure why. When I decided I wanted to cook some lamb this weekend, I had to ask myself, “How do you cook a rack of lamb again?”
The answer though, really is quite simple. And when it comes to a meat with such a deep, rich flavour, I truly believe simple is the only way to go. It needs to be simple so that tender meat can really shine – and so you can dish it up with a sock-knocking sauce!
So this lamb recipe is about as simple as it gets, yet still manages to be a showstopper when put on the table. It was my plan to put it out for Easter lunch but seriously, it didn’t even get that far – with everyone devouring it as an appetizer before the dining table even got a look in (on that note, this recipe is really delicious when paired with a Summer ale)… yep, this recipe is versatile enough to go both ways – a roast dinner centrepiece or, skip the potatoes and vegetables and turn it into finger food. If you (or perhaps more fittingly, your husband) happen to enjoy gnawing on bones as if they are lollipops, then this is the recipe for you.
When sourcing lamb, I generally try to seek out meat that comes from Victoria – the meat that comes from the high country of the state has a deep, rich flavour and makes for incredible eating. It really is no wonder that it is the largest lamb and mutton producing area in the country.
A rack of lamb will typically come with a fair bit of fat on it, so I look for racks that have been ‘Frenched’ – meaning that the meat, fat and sinew have been scraped away from the top bones. I leave the fat cap on the meaty part however, as it will melt through the meat while cooking and impart beautiful flavour whilst helping to keep the meat tender.
The lamb is seasoned really simply with some basic, but hugely flavourful ingredients: garlic, thyme, rosemary, lemon zest and the all important salt and pepper…. Which also forms a delicate crust that just tastes amazing. I try to allow these seasonings to sit on the lamb for a bit to marinate for a while before cooking… minimum one hour at room temperature, but wrapped up in the fridge overnight is even better. Then all you need to do is roast and within half an hour you will be unashamedly picking up the resulting cutlets and going to town like a caveman.
I prefer my lamb medium rare, but id you like yours a little more well done then, well, okay (my mother told me if you don’t have anything nice to say…), by all means cook it a little longer. I really don’t recommended however, as lamb is such a delicate meat that cooking it anything past medium rare, in my opinion, results in dry, tough and flavourless meat. But hey, your money, your tastebuds, your experience. If you aren’t entirely sure, or you are cooking for a lot of people, always go medium rare (there is nothing better than cutting into the rack to reveal that perfectly pink interior).
And finally, we need to talk about the sauce. Who would have thought some garlic and oregano would be so life-changing… but seriously, it’s that simple. The flavours just pair so beautifully with the tender lamb and as it is so similar to a fresh tzatziki, I can only imagine how incredible it would be with some spiced lamb kofta on some fresh pita. Next endeavour? Maybe.
So, I am happy to say that I now have a seriously delicious, go-to lamb recipe that is so incredibly easy that it can be belted out almost with my eyes closed. I’m glad I discovered it just in time for Easter, but it’s versatile enough to pull out on absolutely any day of the year too. YES!
Herb Crusted Lamb Rack with Yoghurt Sauce
- 1 frenched rack of lamb
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 1 tablespoon fresh rosemary
- 2 tablespoons fresh thyme
- 8 cloves garlic
- Zest of 1 lemon
- Large pinch salt and pepper, extra to taste
- For the Yoghurt Sauce:
- ½ cup Greek yoghurt
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
- Pinch salt and pepper
- ¼ Lebanese cucumber, finely diced
- 1 teaspoon olive oil
- Lemon zest, to taste
In a food processor, combine olive oil, rosemary, thyme, garlic lemon zest and salt and pepper. It should resemble a lumpy paste.
Meanwhile, gently score the fat cap on the lamb rack and season well on both sides with salt and pepper. Place the rack, meat side up, on a prepared roasting tray, then cover generously with the herb and oil mixture. Allow the meat to rest with the mixture atop for 30 minutes to an hour at room temperature or, seal with cling wrap and refrigerate overnight (see note).
Preheat oven to 220C. When ready to cook, place the lamb rack into the oven and allow to cook for 30 minutes or until a meat thermometer in the centre reaches approximately 65C. Remove lamb rack from the oven and allow to rest for at least 10 minutes.
While the meat is resting, prepare the yoghurt sauce by combining the yoghurt, garlic, oregano, salt and pepper and cucumber. Place in a serving bowl and drizzle with olive oil, top with a little zest to garnish.
Slice the rack into cutlets and serve with the sauce.
If refrigerating the lamb, remove from fridge and allow to come to room temperature before cooking, approximately 45 minutes.