Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Cooking: Rack of Lamb with Moroccan Spices

Our local grocery had a special on these little "half-racks" of lamb, so I grabbed one for dinner this evening. Usually, I just season rack of lamb with salt, pepper and a little thyme, but I felt like something different. Having read a recipe for home-prepared preserved lemons, a staple of Moroccan cooking, in this morning's newspaper, an idea formed. Having a preserved lemon in the refrigerator sealed the deal.

I prepared the roast the way I always do, removing all the silverskin, then tying the roast between the ribs. Removing the silverskin gives your diners a more pleasant experience at the table, as they don't end up with something in their mouth they can't possible chew. Tying the roast results in a lovely plump chop when the roast is carved.

I peeled several cloves of garlic and put them on my cutting board with a healthy pinch of kosher salt, about 1 1/2 teaspoons of cumin seed, and a generous grinding of Mignonette pepper, which is a blend of black pepper, white pepper, and coriander seed. I minced that until it was pretty fine. It smelled heavenly.

Next, I removed and discarded the inside flesh from half a preserved lemon, then rinsed the rind in cold water. I chopped the rind into small dice, then mixed it with the herb/garlic mixture. The smell got even better.

I brushed the roast with a little olive oil, then packed the spice/lemon melange all over the top.

Into a preheated 450° oven on a rack set in the middle of the oven, for about 25 minutes, until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part read  130°. Out it came to rest, covered with foil, for at least 10 minutes. I actually ended up letting it rest longer, as it took my sweetie longer to get home from work than I had planned for, but I just put it back in the oven (now turned off) for about 5 minutes prior to carving.

I removed the strings, carved, and plated it up. The longer-than-usual resting period resulted in a lovely uniform pink throughout the entire chop.

And the final verdict? Delicious, although I liked it better than my companion, who liked the flavor but didn't like eating the lemon/herb crust so much. I, on the other hand, scraped every last bit of it up and slathered it on each and every forkful. We had the chops with a baked garnet yam and a green salad, which were lovely accompaniments.

I probably won't make this on a regular basis (my sweetie prefers my usual preparation) but might make it again some time if I find myself with an extra preserved lemon.


  1. I'd eat that. Sounds absolutely wonderful. Please show me how to tie a rack of lamb sometime? I have no clue.

  2. I used to do this elaborate thing with one long piece of butcher's twine, but now I just cut as many short pieces as there are spaces between the ribs, loop the twine around and tie with a simple square knot. I use thick twine so it doesn't cut into the meat, and pull it pretty tight. I'll show you some time!