French Roasted Rack of Lamb with Lemon Persillade Crust
Have I told you how much of a carnivore I was back when I lived in Paris? There wouldn't be a meal without meat or fish on my plate. One of my favorite dishes, and one that was a staple at my home as a child, was le carré d'agneau persillé, or persillade-crusted rack of lamb. We would have lamb at least twice a month and this was the preparation of choice.
What makes this dish so special is the slightly salted, green crust of persillade. The persillade crust is very versatile and can be used for eggplants, tomatoes or even roast cod. I love the flavor so much that after finishing off the lamb, I mop up whatever is left on my plate with a piece of baguette. A traditional persillade is made with flat-leaf parsley, but I fortify my version with cilantro. I think it gives the crust a little more punch.
It's very easy to make. Try it; you'll love it!
Yields: 6 servings3 racks of lambs, about 5 pounds total
3 slices fresh whole wheat bread (or white bread), diced
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon black pepper, freshly ground
5 cloves garlic, finely minced and puréed
1 cup flat-leaf parsley, tightly packed and chopped
1 cup cilantro (with its stems), tightly packed and chopped
2 sprigs fresh thyme, finely chopped
1 tablespoon Meyer lemon zest
1 teaspoon fresh rosemary, finely chopped
2 teaspoons fleur de sel (or regular salt), finely ground
2 teaspoons coarse grain mustard
3 tablespoons butter, softened to room temperature
1 tablespoon olive oil
Preheat the oven to 450°F.
Rub half the amount of garlic purée on the lamb and season with kosher salt and pepper. Let the lamb rest at least 15 minutes before roasting to make sure it's back to room temperature.
For the lemon persillade crust, put the diced bread into a food processor and pulse several times. Add the rosemary and pulse until finely ground. Add cilantro, parsley, the remaining garlic, thyme and lemon zest. Pour the mixture into a bowl. Add the mustard and softened butter. Set aside.
Brush a roasting pan with a little oil. Place the racks of lamb, fat side up. Roast the meat for 10 minutes.
Cover with the persillade crust by pressing it against the meat using a spoon. Drizzle with a little oil. Return immediately to the oven and roast for another 15-17 minutes (or 18-19 minutes if you like it well done), depending on how pink you like your meat. It's important that you do not pierce the meat so it stays moist and tender.
Remove the pan from the oven. Transfer the lamb to a platter. Cover with a piece of aluminum foil. Let the meat sit for at least 10-20 minutes before slicing.
Slice the lamb, fanning each slice for a nice presentation and serve immediately.
Serve with a gratin dauphinois or any other potato dishes and some greens.
I know a lot of people don't like lamb because they think it has an unpleasant smell. The reality is, 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.
It's important to use a fresh loaf of bread and not bread crumbs for the persillade crust because the final product will be much more moist.
Instead of serving boring plain mustard on the side, I always like to add a little moreflavor to the meat. You can serve a Béarnaise sauce (basically French tarragon, shallot and mustard), a green peppercorn truffle sauce, a Saigonese cinnamon balsamic reduction (brown sugar, balsamic vinegar, Saigonese cinnamon sticks and shallots) or even a wasabi-lime sauce.
I'm using the first harvest of Meyer lemons from our garden. The zest is very fragrant. If you don't have Meyer lemons, you can use any other citrus zest.
I use cilantro 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 to prevent them from burning so you'll have a nice, clean presentation.
Make sure to let the lamb rest for at least 10 minutes 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 where to cut and separate the chops.
Count about 3 to 4 lamb chops per person.
Published By: on October 12, 2009.