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Rack of Spring Lamb with Roasted Garlic

Rack of Spring Lamb with Roasted Garlic
For this recipe, you (or your butcher) must first "french" the racks: Trim off 2 inches of fat and membrane between the ribs to expose the tips of the bones, then cut through the backbone between the ribs to make carving easier. Fresh spring vegetables, such as asparagus, baby carrots and new potatoes, make a delicious accompaniment.

Ingredients:

  • 2 heads garlic
  • 2 1/2 Tbs. olive oil
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 3 Tbs. whole-grain mustard
  • 2 Tbs. fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp. salt, plus more, to taste
  • 1/2 tsp. freshly ground pepper, plus more, to taste
  • 1 1/2 cups fresh white bread crumbs
  • 3 racks of lamb, each about 1 1/2 lb., trimmed of excess fat
  • 2 Tbs. unsalted butter, melted

Directions:

Preheat an oven to 400ºF. Discard the excess papery skin from the garlic heads and place in a small baking dish. Drizzle with 1/2 Tbs. of the olive oil and the water. Cover with aluminum foil and bake until soft, about 45 minutes. Let cool slightly. Leave the oven set at 400ºF.

Separate the garlic cloves and squeeze the pulp from the skins into a small bowl; discard the skins. Whisk in the remaining 2 Tbs. olive oil, the mustard, lemon juice and 1/2 tsp. each salt and pepper. In another bowl, season the bread crumbs with salt and pepper.

Lay the racks of lamb in a roasting pan side by side and fat side up. Roast for 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and immediately rub the garlic mixture over the fat side of each rack. Then spread the bread crumb mixture over the garlic mixture. Drizzle with the melted butter and return the lamb to the oven. Continue to roast until the crumbs are lightly golden and an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of a rack, away from the bone, registers 130° to 135ºF for medium-rare, or the meat is pink when cut into with a sharp knife, about 25 minutes more. Remove from the oven, cover with aluminum foil and let rest for 10 minutes.

Preheat a broiler. Uncover and place the roasting pan under the broiler 5 to 6 inches from the heat source. Broil the lamb racks until the crumbs are deep golden brown, 30 to 60 seconds.

To serve, place the racks on a cutting board and slice between the ribs. Arrange 2 or 3 ribs on each warmed individual plate.
Serves 6.
Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Seasonal Celebration Series, Spring, by Joanne Weir (Time-Life Books, 1997).