In many people’s minds, rack of lamb is “a fancy hotel dish, topped with curly vegetables and served tableside by a guy in a tux,” said Andrew Carmellini in his new cookbook, Urban Italian (Bloomsbury). The former chef de cuisine at New York’s Café Boulud, Carmellini is now chef-proprietor of A Voce. He admits that rack of lamb “ain’t cheap, but it’s definitely worth the cash if you do it right.” When carving the meat, he advises, be sure to leave the fat intact. “That’s where all the flavor hides out.”
Recipe of the week
Rack of Lamb Glazed With Citrus and Vinegar
For the lamb:
2 tsp whole fennel seed (or 1 tsp ground)
Juice of 2 lemons
Juice of 2 oranges
1 clove garlic, peeled
2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 tbsp harissa or crushed red pepper flakes
2 full racks of lamb, about 2 to 2¼ pounds each (plan on 4 bones per person)
1½ tbsp salt
½ tsp coarsely ground black pepper
For the glaze:
½ cup balsamic vinegar
½ cup vin cotto (if you can’t find vin cotto, up the balsamic vinegar to 1 cup)
¼ tsp red pepper flakes
½ tbsp finely chopped rosemary
Sea salt for sprinkling
Toast fennel seeds in small pan over low heat until they become fragrant, about 2 minutes. (If using the ground fennel, don’t
toast it.) Blend fennel seeds (or ground fennel), lemon juice, orange juice, garlic, olive oil, harissa or red pepper flakes in blender on medium until combined, about 30 seconds. Place racks of lamb in large container; pour mixture over top. Cover with plastic wrap; place in fridge to marinate for at least 2 hours—the longer the better, up to 8 hours.
Turn broiler or grill to high. Remove lamb from fridge; allow it to come to room temperature on counter, at least 30 minutes. Reserve marinade. Season lamb on both sides with salt and pepper; place on roasting rack and put under broiler, on middle rack, or on grill with cap of fat facing down. Broil lamb until fat cap starts to caramelize, about 3 minutes. Rotate pan and continue broiling as it browns, about 2½ minutes more. Flip lamb racks over; continue broiling until fat on top has started to caramelize and render, about 5 more minutes.
Turn the oven to 400 degrees. Remove the lamb from the oven, brush it with the marinade on both sides, and then return it to the oven. Cook until your desired level of doneness: about 20 to 25 minutes for medium-rare (or 115 F on a meat thermometer). Remove the lamb from the oven and allow it to rest on the roasting rack for 20 minutes, so the meat becomes tender and juicy.
Cut the chops between the bones. Brush the lamb with the vinegar glaze and sprinkle liberally with sea salt. Serve immediately. Serves 4 to 6.
To prepare the glaze:
Combine the balsamic vinegar, vin cotto, and red pepper flakes in a small pot over high heat and allow the mixture to reduce by half, about 8 minutes. (Be sure to ventilate the kitchen well while you do this.) Remove the pot from the heat; add the chopped rosemary and mix to combine. The glaze should taste sweet, sour, spicy, and herby all at once.