The expense of rack of lamb usually elevates it to special-dinner status, with all the attendant anxiety about breaking away from anything but tried-and-true approaches. This recipe offers a great alternative to the classic Dijon mustard sauce and fancy baby vegetable garnishes so often seen with lamb racks. When my son was young, he referred to rack chops as “steak on a stick,” which jogged me into thinking about how I would handle rack of lamb if I had the same freedom to play around with seasonings that I did with kebabs. An old-fashioned Italian anchovy marinade for grilled lamb seemed particularly appealing. Why not go even one step further and serve the lamb with a Romaine salad dressed with anchovy vinaigrette and Parmesan croutons? The dish is filled with big appealing flavors and is a lot easier than the usual way of handling racks.
- 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 6 anchovies, rinsed and finely chopped
- 2 tablespoons grated lemon zest
- 2 tablespoons dried mint
- ¼ cup vegetable oil
- Two 7- or 8-bone racks of lamb, trimmed to leave a thin layer of fat, chine bone removed so you can cut between the chops
- 1 medium red onion, sliced into ½-inch-thick rounds
- ¾ cup extra virgin olive oil
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Eight ¼-inch-thick slices rustic bread
- 2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1 garlic clove, minced and then mashed with a pinch of salt to a paste
- 1 teaspoon minced shallots
- 6 anchovies, rinsed and finely chopped
- ½ teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- 1 head Romaine lettuce, washed, dried, and cut crosswise into strips 3 inches wide
- 2 ounces Parmesan cheese shavings
- 1 lemon, cut into 4 wedges
1. Mix the marinade ingredients together in a small bowl. Set the lamb racks in a nonreactive container and smear the meat with the marinade. Cover with plastic wrap and marinate in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours, or up to a day.
2. Preheat the oven to 450°F.
3. Toss the onions with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a small bowl and season with salt and pepper. Arrange in a single layer in a small roasting pan and roast until brown around the edges and tender, about 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and set aside.
4. To make the croutons, lay the bread slices in a single layer on a sheet pan. Brush each slice with ¾ teaspoon of the olive oil and sprinkle with 1 teaspoon of the Parmesan cheese. When the onions are done, bake the croutons for 5 to 7 minutes, or until the cheese has melted and the bread is toasted. Set aside. Leave the oven on.
5. To sear the lamb racks, heat 1 tablespoon of the vegetable oil in each of two large ovenproof sauté pans over medium-high heat. (If you don’t have two large ovenproof pans, sear the racks individually, then transfer to a large roasting pan that has been heating in the oven.) Season the lamb all over with salt and pepper. (Don’t scrape off the marinade.) Add the racks to the pans, meat side down, and sear until brown, about 4 minutes.
6. Turn the meat, then transfer the pans to the oven. Roast until an instant-read digital thermometer inserted in the center of the rack reads 125°F for medium-rare (120°F for rare). Start checking after 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and let rest. Return the onions to the oven to warm while you make the salad.
7. To make the dressing, combine the garlic, shallots, anchovies, and mustard in a small bowl. Whisk in the red wine vinegar. Whisk in the remaining ½ cup olive oil in a thin, steady stream until the vinaigrette is smooth and emulsified. Season with salt and pepper. Toss the lettuce in a large bowl with the vinaigrette. Taste, then season with salt and pepper if necessary.
8. Arrange the salad on a platter or individual plates. Sprinkle with the Parmesan shavings. Slice the lamb into individual chops and arrange in front of the salad. Drape the salad with the roasted onions and garnish with the croutons. Add a lemon wedge to each plate and serve immediately.
Nutritional information is based on 1/8 teaspoon added salt per serving, and 2lbs of racks of lamb.