Cooking with Alison

Herb and Pistachio Crusted Rack of Lamb Recipe

In Red Meat and Eggs on October 4, 2013 at pm


I love rack of lamb, but the idea of cooking it myself was intimidating, because I was worried that I would undercook or overcook it and waste an expensive cut of meat.  Although I prefer my beef steak blue rare, I find that lamb is best enjoyed medium or medium rare.  I decided to take on this challenge for Mother’s Day and, luckily, it turned out beautifully.  I used the touch method (also known as the finger test) to check the doneness of the meat every 5 to 10 minutes to ensure that I didn’t overcook it.  Since I kept letting the heat out of the oven, it took about 40 minutes for my roast to reach medium doneness (20 minutes longer than expected), but it was delicious.

Note:  I personally don’t like the flavour of mint, but since mint is a common accompaniment for lamb, you could add a couple of fresh mint leaves to the other fresh herbs in this recipe.  I’d also like to note that using nuts instead of the typical bread crumbs for the crust happens to make this entree gluten free.

Herb and Pistachio Crusted Rack of Lamb Recipe

serves 5

1 or 2 frenched racks of lamb with a total of 10 ribs, trimmed of all but a thin layer of fat and at room temperature

2 cups of pistachio nuts, shelled

1 large handful of fresh Italian parsley

1 bunch of fresh thyme, leaves separated from stems

1 or 2 sprigs of fresh rosemary, leaves separated from the stems

4 to 6 tablespoons dijon mustard or honey dijon mustard

olive or vegetable oil

1/2 teaspoon coarse Kosher sea salt

pinch of freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F with the rack set in the middle of the oven.  Place a lightly greased roasting rack in a roasting pan and set aside.  In the bowl of a food processor fitted with a metal blade, pulse the pistachio nuts until they are coarsely chopped.  Then add the parsley, thyme, rosemary,  salt, and pepper, and pulse until the herbs are chopped as well.  Then with the motor running, add 2 1/2 tablespoons of oil in a steady stream and process until the herbs are finely chopped and thoroughly mixed with the pistachio nuts.  This herb and nut coating should hold together when pressed.  If it is too dry or crumbly, pulse in more oil 1/2 tablespoon at a time.  Place the mixture in a wide mouthed shallow plate or bowl and set aside.

Heat a large, heavy bottomed skillet over medium high heat.  When the pan is hot, add a drizzle or two of oil.  Once the oil is hot, but not smoking or burnt, then brown each side of the rack(s) of lamb.  This should only take up to 1 minute per side.  Use a spoon to spread a thin but significant layer of dijon mustard all over the meat.  Then gently press handfuls of the herb and pistachio mixture all over the meat, ensuring that a thin but significant coating adheres to the meat.  

Then place the rack(s) of lamb onto the prepared roasting rack in pan, fatty side up.  Roast the lamb until a meat thermometer inserted diagonally into the center of the thickest part of the meat registers 130 degrees F for medium rare or 140 degrees F for medium.  Alternatively, you could determine the doneness of the meat by using the touch/finger test (see instructions here).  It will take anywhere between 20 minutes and 45 minutes.  The crust should be nicely browned and the meat should be shriveling away from the bones.  It is very important not to overcook the meat.  Immediately transfer the rack(s) of lamb to a cutting board and allow them to rest for 10 minutes.  Then use a large, sharp knife to cut the rack into individual lamb chops.  Serve immediately.


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