Tuesday, June 12, 2012

The un-fancy rack of lamb

When you think rack of lamb, you probably think "upscale," right? Fancy dinner, special event ...

Yeah, that's what I used to think, too. Until I started cooking a LOT more lamb. It's not that fancy - it's just a rib roast. A teeny tiny lamb-y rib roast.

Okay, maybe you think rib roasts are upscale, too, but roasts are probably the easiest thing to make. Get the internal temperature correct, and you've aced it. Season the outside, if you like. Or don't. It's hard to mess it up unless you set it on fire, overcook it to death, or leave it too raw. A meat thermometer solves most problems.

A while back I got an email from Superior Farms that asked if I wanted some lamb so I could enter their contest on Facebook. "What's the catch?" I thought to myself. Lamb isn't cheap, and shipping perishables requires good packaging and fast delivery.

The catch was that I was supposed to post a photo to their contest page on Facebook. So, um, you're going to ship lamb to me, and I need to post a photo to Facebook where I could win a contest? Uh ... okay, then.

The package arrived, and there was a boneless leg of lamb, ground lamb (I think it was two pounds) and a rack of lamb. And it arrived just in time for an early Father's Day feast. My in-laws love lamb, but they never have it at home, so I thought this would be a good treat.

It was fantastic.

Besides the star of the show - the rack of lamb - I made baby new potatoes, yellow squash, and lamb meatballs. The potatoes were pre-cooked, sliced in half, drizzled with olive oil, then finished on the grill to get a little crust on them. The yellow squash was sliced on the diagonal and I tossed them in a zip-top bag with some olive oil, salt, and spices before I grilled them.

But the star of the show - no doubt - was that rack of lamb.

Rack of Lamb (on the grill)

1 rack of lamb
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1/4 cup olive oil
2 teaspoons salt
2 tablespoons oregano

First, let's say that NONE of the ingredient amounts are set in stone. Adjust to your taste, and the size of your rack of lamb. Use rosemary or thyme instead of the oregano if you like.

And while we're talking optional, a clove of garlic mashed into the olive oil, or a sprinkle of garlic powder would be a welcome addition. The folks we were feeding aren't fans of garlic, so I didn't include any.

The preparation is simple: Combine the lemon juice, olive oil, salt, and oregano, and rub it all over the lamb. Toss the lamb along with the oil/lemon/spices that have dripped off into a plastic bag.

Seal it up and refrigerate if you won't be cooking within an hour or so.

Take the lamb out of the refrigerator an hour before grilling.

Preheat the grill, and grill the lamb on all sides. Turn the heat to medium or move the lamb to a cooler part of the grill and continue cooking, with the grill cover on, until it reaches your desired doneness.

It's hard to give a precise cooking time, because no two grills are going to heat to the same temperature, and no two racks of lamb are going to be the same shape and thickness.

The only way to know for sure if the lamb is done is to check the meat with a meat thermometer. The internal temperature of the meat will increase a little as the lamb rests, so pull it off the grill when it's about 5 degrees under your desired temperature.

Cover the lamb with foil as it rests - for a small rack 10 minutes is fine. If you cut it too soon, all the juice will run out, so don't be tempted.

Cut the lamb into portions between the ribs. Serve.

Disclaimer: I received the lamb for the purposes of entering the Superior Farms contest on Facebook. I was not required to write a blog post.