Tuesday, 19 January 2016

Pinenut Crusted Rack of Lamb

I used to make this as a special occasion meal when we were first married, and haven't made it for a while. My husband made a cribbage board for someone and was paid with four racks of lamb, and this was my chance to use one of them, as it was only the two of us for dinner.

I had just enough pinenuts and breadcrumbs to make the crust. I had four red potatoes, one chorizo sausage and a red pepper which I turned into a hash, crumbled with some blue cheese as the accompaniment to the lamb.

Turn the oven on to heat up to 350F. Have your rack of lamb ready, excess fat and silverskin removed, and the meat, fat and membranes that are in between the bones have been cut away. This is called 'Frenching'. You can ask your butcher to do this for you, or you can do it yourself, as demonstrated in this link

Make the crust by combining:

2 tablespoons roughly chopped pinenuts
2 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
2 cloves garlic, minced
Pinch of salt and pepper

Stir in:

1/2 cup fresh breadcrumbs
Olive oil

Add just enough olive oil to help everything stick together while remaining crumbly.

Lightly season the rack of lamb with salt and black pepper.

Add a drizzle of olive oil to a pan that can be put directly into the oven, and heat it until it is smoking hot.

Place the rack of lamb meat side down into the hot pan and sear.

When the meat has a nice brown crust, turn the rack of lamb over, and turn off the heat.

Using a spoon, spread a layer of Dijon mustard over the meat. I used about 2 tablespoons of mustard.

Gently press the crust onto the mustard.

Place the whole pan into the oven, baking until the lamb is cooked to your liking. Mine took about 25 minutes to our liking of medium.

The crust will be crunchy and golden.

Allow the meat to rest for 5 - 10 minutes before cutting it into individual chops and serving.

I served this with potato and chorizo hash, as well as asparagus. The richness of the lamb allows you to feed two people with one rack, giving you 3 or 4 lamb chops per person. I won't wait so long to make this again!

  • This recipe can easily be multiplied to serve more than two people. 
  • The crust can be made a day or two ahead, and kept in the refrigerator until needed.
  • The Dijon mustard helps the crust to stick to the lamb. You could also use pesto or roast garlic puree. Instead of plain Dijon, add some chopped rosemary, honey or spices to the mustard before spreading it onto the lamb.
  • As with most recipes, any nuts can be substitutes for the pinenuts. Some choices that work well with lamb are pistachios, pecans or hazelnuts.
  • Cheese can be added to the crust...finely grated or crumbled. Try blue cheese with hazelnuts. Other cheese to try included Parmesan, goat cheese or feta cheese.
  • Pork rack can also be used, just allow a longer roasting time, as it is a larger piece of meat. Herbs such as chopped fresh sage or rosemary can be added to the crust.
  • Rack of lamb is fairly pricey, but a little goes a long way as it is quite a rich meat. I do only ever make it for a treat, but you can still achieve the flavours and textures of this recipe by using it as a crust on other cuts of lamb if you want. Try using lamb shoulder to make an oven braised lamb, with vegetables and beans, and then add the crust to the top for the last half hour of baking.
  • You can also use the crust for other meats such as chicken breast or pork chops.


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