For a special dinner, most people expect a big hunk of meat plated in all its glory. Big hunks of meat tend to impress and rightly so. This rack of lamb recipe from Urban Italian has a vinegar glaze which should taste "sweet, sour, spicy, and herby all at once." Paired with a spicy citrus marinade, this seriously hits up all your taste buds.
One of the things I love about Carmellini's recipes is that even though it calls for vin cotto and harissa here (ingredients that aren't exactly in everyone's pantry), he offers easy substitutes like balsamic vinegar and red pepper flakes. So there's no last minute rush to the store and I can make a rack of lamb and enjoy all that a caramelized fat cap has to offer.
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- For the lamb:
- 2 teaspoons whole fennel seed (or 1 teaspoon ground)
- Juice of 2 lemons
- Juice of 2 oranges
- 1 clove garlic, peeled
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon harissa or crushed red pepper flakes
- 2 full racks of lamb, about 2 to 2 1/4 pounds each (plan on 4 bones per person)
- 1 1/2 tablespoons salt
- For the glaze:
- 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
- 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 1/2 tablespoon finely chopped rosemary
- Sea salt for sprinkling
To prepare the lamb:
Blend the fennel seeds (or ground fennel), lemon juice, orange juice, garlic, olive oil, and harissa or red pepper flakes in the blender on medium until combined, about 30 seconds.
Place the racks of lamb in a large container and pour the mixture over the top. Cover with plastic wrap and place in the fridge to marinate for at least 2 hours—the longer the meat rests in the marinade the better, up to 8 hours.
Turn the broiler or grill on to high.
Remove the lamb from the fridge and allow it to come to room temperature on the counter, at least 30 minutes. Reserve the marinade.
Season the lamb on both sides with the salt and pepper, place it on a roasting rack, and put it under the broiler, on the middle rack, or on the grill with the cap of fat facing down.
Broil the lamb until the fat cap starts to caramelize, about 3 minutes. Rotate the pan and continue broiling as it browns, about 2 1/2 minutes more. Flip the lamb racks over and continue broiling until the fat on top has started to caramelize and render, about 5 more minutes.
Turn the oven to 400°F. 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.
To prepare the glaze:
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.
To finish the dish:
Cut the chops between the bones.
Brush the lambs with the vinegar glaze and sprinkle liberally with sea salt. Serve immediately.