Apricot Roasted Rack of Lamb

Apricot Roasted Rack of Lamb Recipe

One of my favorite dishes, and one that was a staple in my home as a child, was le carré d'agneau persillé, or persillade-crusted rack of lamb. Today, I decided to make a slightly different version that incorporated exotic spices, sweet notes in the form of dried fruits such as dried apricots and almond, parsley and mint in the coating. 

To ensure that the meat was juicy and very tender, I marinated the lamb in an apricot, ginger, Baharat spices and buttermilk mixture. You'll have to let the lamb marinate overnight. It will take some patience until you're able to enjoy it but your efforts will be rewarded. Lastly, once the lamb was cooked, I covered it with the almond, parsley and mint coat for extra fragrance. 

Rack of Lamb

 

 

Ingredients

Yields: 6 servings

3 racks of lamb, about 5 pounds total
¼ cup almond meal
1½ cups buttermilk
1 (5.5.-ounce) can apricot nectar
5 dried apricots, finely chopped
1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger
¼ teaspoon freshly grated cinnamon
½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon Baharat spice mix (see tips)
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon black pepper, freshly ground
4 cloves garlic, finely minced and puréed
1 tablespoon horseradish mustard (optional)
1 tablespoon honey
2 sprigs fresh mint, finely chopped
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 lemon, zested and juiced
2 cups Italian parsley, tightly packed and chopped
4 tablespoons butter, diced

Directions

Seasoning the meat: Rub half the amount of garlic purée on the racks of lamb and season with kosher salt, cayenne pepper and black pepper.


For the lamb chop marinade:

In a bowl, combine the apricot nectar, 1 tablespoon chopped dried apricots, buttermilk, lemon juice, Baharat spice mix, ginger, cinnamon and 3 tablespoons of olive oil. Stir well.

Place each rack of lamb in a sealable zip-top bag (or the 3 racks together in a very large bowl). Divide the marinade among the 3 bags or pour all of it over over the racks in the bowl. Marinate in the refrigerator for at least 10 hours or overnight.


The following day...

Remove the meat from the refrigerator at least 30 minutes ahead of time to bring it back to room temperature before cooking.


For the herb coat: In a food processor, add the butter, remaining garlic and dried apricots and 1 cup parsley, 1 tablespoon fresh mint to the almond meal. Season with 2 teaspoons of horseradish mustard (if using), salt and pepper. Pulse until it forms coarse crumbs of butter, apricots and almonds. Pour the mixture into a bowl. Set aside.

In a separate bowl, combine the remaining parsley and mint.


Preheat the oven to 450°F.

Roasting the lamb:

Remove the lamb from the marinade. Pat the meat dry using paper towels.

In a large heavy-bottom pan, heat about 1 tablespoon of olive oil until it's really hot, almost to the smoking point. Place the racks of lamb, fat side up. Sear the meat for about 2 minutes until nicely golden. Flip the meat on the other side using tongs. It's important that you do NOT pierce the meat with a fork, so it stays moist and tender. Sear the other side for another 2 minutes. Immediately transfer the pan to the oven and roast the lamb for about 10 minutes.

Remove the lamb from the oven and cover it with a thin layer of apricot almond mixture by pressing it against the meat using a large spoon. Drizzle with a little oil. Return immediately to the oven and roast for another 13-15 minutes (16-17 minutes if you like it well done), depending on how pink you like your meat.

Remove the pan from the oven. Transfer the racks of lamb to a large platter. Cover with a piece of aluminum foil. Let the meat rest for 30 minutes to an hour before slicing; that way the meat stays very juicy and tender.


Assembly:

A mean thermometer should register 125-130°F for medium-rare meat. Coat the rack of lamb with the reserved mint and parsley.

Slice the lamb into 3/4" thick pieces, fanning the slices for a nice presentation; serve immediately.

I served the lamb chops with the warm tomato chutney, twic-baked potatoes and some greens.

Bon appétit!


Tips

I know a lot of people don't like lamb because they think it has strong flavor or smell. The reality is that, if you get really fresh, good quality lamb, it doesn't have an unpleasant smell at all. Greek, Middle-Eastern and Persian ethnic markets usually carry the best lamb because lamb is very common in those cultures.

Little reminder on how to obtain Baharat spice mix: In a pan, add ½ teaspoon cumin seeds, 1 teaspoon fennel seeds, 1 whole star anise, 4 cloves, 1-½ teaspoons coriander seeds and the seeds from 3 green cardamom pods. Dry roast over high heat for about 2 minutes and stir constantly. Remove the pan from the stove and add ¼ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg, 1 teaspoon of paprika, ½ teaspoon cayenne, 1 teaspoon garlic powder, ½ teaspoon turmeric, 1 teaspoon ground ginger and 1 teaspoon turmeric powder. Put the spice mix in a grinder (I use a coffee grinder that I keep exclusively for spices) and grind the mixture into a fine powder. Sift the powder through a strainer. Set aside until cool.

Buttermilk is a meat tenderizer to ensure juicy and moist meat. 

I use the parsley stems also, because that's where the flavor is the most potent.

The roasting time depends on how pink you like the lamb. If you' want to be absolutely sure, just place a temperature probe in one of the racks, and remove the lamb from the oven when the thermometer registers 130°F.

Wrap the ends of the bones with aluminum foil before placing in the oven to prevent them from burning so you'll have a nice, clean presentation.

Make sure to let the lamb rest before slicing it to ensure an optimum tenderness of the meat. To carve the rack of lamb, place it on a cutting board with the bones facing you. You can use the bones as a guide to  cut and separate the chops.

Count about 3 to 4 lamb chops per person.

Published By: Jacqueline Pham on February 4, 2015.


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