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Roasted Rack of Lamb with Dried Fruit and Almond Stuffing

Rack of lamb is a luxurious and tasty cut: the meat stays tender when cooked as part of a roast, and the chops can be carved at the table for an elegant presentation. The stuffing in this recipe—a mix of dried cranberries, dates and almonds—is perfect for fall and winter. Accompany the lamb with herb-roasted potatoes (see related recipe at left).

Ingredients:

  • 2 racks of lamb, each 1 to 1 1/4 lb. (500 to 625 g), chine bone
      removed, frenched and well trimmed of fat
  • Olive oil for coating
  • 1 tsp. chopped fresh thyme
  • 1 tsp. minced fresh rosemary
  • 1 tsp. freshly ground pepper, plus more, to taste
  • Kosher salt, to taste

For the stuffing:

  • 1/2 cup (2 oz./60 g) dried cranberries
  • 2 Tbs. medium-dry sherry
  • 1/4 cup (1 oz./30 g) almonds
  • 5 dates, pitted and coarsely chopped
  • 1 Tbs. coarsely chopped fresh mint or flat-leaf parsley
  • 2 Tbs. unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1/4 cup (1/2 oz./15 g) fresh bread crumbs
  • 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
  • Freshly ground pepper, to taste

Directions:

Rub the racks of lamb all over with olive oil and then with the thyme, rosemary and the 1 tsp. pepper. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or preferably up to 12 hours. Let stand at room temperature for 1 hour before roasting.

To make the stuffing, place the cranberries in a small saucepan and barely cover with water. Add the sherry. Bring to a simmer, then remove from the heat and let stand for 10 minutes. Drain well. In a mini food processor, pulse the almonds for 2 seconds. Add the cranberries, dates, mint, butter and bread crumbs. Add the salt and season with pepper. Pulse to form a slightly chunky paste.

Place a large roasting pan inside an oven and preheat to 400°F (200°C).

Using a long, thin knife, such as a carving knife, cut a 2-inch (5-cm) slit all the way through each rack, right in the center, or eye, of the meat. Widen the slit with the handle of a wooden spoon. Poke about one-fourth of the stuffing into the slit from either end of each rack, pushing the stuffing with the spoon handle. Season the racks generously with salt and pepper.

Place both racks, rounded (fat) side down, in the preheated pan and roast for 10 minutes. Turn the racks over and roast until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the meat, not the stuffing, near the center registers 130° to 135°F (54° to 57°C) for medium-rare to medium, 12 to 15 minutes more, or until done to your liking.

Transfer the racks to a carving board, cover loosely with aluminum foil and let rest for 5 to 10 minutes. Carve into individual chops and serve immediately. Serves 4 to 6.

A note from the butcher: A rack can be frenched, exposing the tips of the bones. This is a beautiful presentation, but I like the flavorful meat between the bones! An experienced butcher will know how to skillfully trim the fat from the rack. This will eliminate the gamy flavor that many people associate with lamb.

—Ron Savenor, Savenor’s Market, Boston, MA

Adapted from Williams-Sonoma The Cook & The Butcher, by Brigit Binns (Weldon Owen, 2011).