Rack of Lamb: the Jewel of Elegant Dining

The icon for fine dining, according to many of America’s finest chefs, is not a steak. It is a rack of lamb. More and more consumers are learning that this elegant and tasty protein is “surprisingly easy to prepare at home,” according to the American Lamb Board, which represents the nation’s lamb producers.

“Rack of lamb has long been the centerpiece of extraordinary dining in restaurants around the world,” says Tony Catelli, CEO of Catelli Brothers, one of the largest processors and distributors of lamb In North America. “Now the American consumer has found that a rack of lamb needs little more than good seasoning and searing on high heat to create a flavorful and special meal at home,” Catelli explains.

A rack of lamb can be appetizingly served four ways:
•Frenched. An attractive presentation is created by merely removing a few inches of meat from the end of the bones. Lamb is often packaged this way in supermarkets.
• Lollipops. For a memorable appetizer, the rack is cut into individual chops and trimmed of all fat. This tasty “finger food” is popular at parties and celebrations.
• Crown Roast. By curving and tying together two frenched racks of lamb to resemble a crown, this roast is even better when filled with stuffing or roast vegetables.
• Rib Chops. Created by cutting one individual rib per chop from the rack roast.

You can find all of these cuts pre-packaged in the meat cases of most of America’s leading supermarkets, Catelli says. He also points out that rack of lamb recipes are easy and plentiful and can be found on his company’s website (CatelliBrothers.com) and at AmericanLamb.com

Now that the grilling season is upon us, lamb in all its forms is increasingly popular among backyard chefs. The American Lamb Board explains that “a rack of lamb can be cut into single or double chops and grilled or roasted on high heat to create a delicious, caramelized crust.” Home chefs can also roast the entire rack and then cut individual shops for serving. A small rack serves two, but for three or four a larger rack is required. The Lamb Board suggests that a whole rack can be oven roasted for 25 to 35 minutes, but that it should be seared first on both sides.

If you are a first time rack of lamb chef, here are some facts you should know:
• A rack of lamb (rack roast) usually has eight rib bones or eight chops and weighs from one to two pounds.
• Plan on serving at least two chops per guest.
• The rib bones on a rack of lamb are typically frenched. Tie two or three racks together to create a crown roast.