Nothing spells “holiday” like a centerpiece rack of lamb on the table. Not only does it look impressive, it’s surprisingly easy to make. With only a handful of ingredients and very little prep time, this recipe lets the meat tell the story. Fresh herbs and garlic merely complement the lamb’s deep flavor. Given the simplicity of the preparation, one has flexibility with side dishes. Mushrooms are a classic partner, especially with right bank Bordeaux, but greens and stuffing pair well, too. 

 

To Pair: Merlot-based Saint-Emilion 

 

The Bordelais know that an elegant right-bank Merlot performs miracles when matched with lamb. Medium-bodied with plush tannins, a thread of minerality, and plummy fruits, a good bottle from Saint-Emilion would best suit the flavor and occasion.  

 

Wine to Find: Château Corbin, St. Emilion Red Bordeaux, 2012, $34

One of few Bordeaux properties run by a woman, Château Corbin has been managed by Anabelle Cruse-Bardinet since 1999. A Bordeaux University oenology graduate who represents the 4th generation of the family, Château Corbin is one of the oldest estates in Saint-Emilion (which sits on the Pomerol border). Today, the vineyards are tended using environmentally-friendly viticultural methods to produce polished cherry- and mineral-flecked wines. The 2012, readily available in the market, has a nice touch of age on it for a fantastic price. Get two bottles. 

 

Serves 6-8 

Total time: 1 Hour

 

Ingredients

Lamb

2 racks of lamb (1 ½-2 pounds each), frenched and trimmed of all but a thin layer of fat

1 tablespoon grapeseed oil (or oil with high smoke point) 

Kosher salt and black pepper for seasoning

Herb Rub

½ -1 head of garlic, cloves unpeeled and minced (to taste)

1 ½ tablespoons fresh rosemary, finely chopped  

1 ½ tablespoon fresh thyme, finely chopped 

1 ½ tablespoons fresh flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil 

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

 

Directions

1. Put oven rack in middle position and preheat to 350°F. Next, brown the lamb. Heat a 12-inch heavy-bottomed skillet over high heat, at least 2 minutes, until hot. Pat lamb dry, then season heavily with salt and pepper. Add oil to the skillet, then brown racks on all sides, about 10 minutes per rack, working in two batches.

2. While meat browns, combine garlic, chopped herbs, olive oil, salt and pepper in a mortar. Using the pestle, grind ingredients into a rough paste. 

3. Remove lamb from skillet and let cool for a few minutes. Being careful not to burn fingers, coat the meaty sections of ribs with the herb mixture, pressing gently to adhere. 

4. Transfer racks to a roasting pan. Roast 15 minutes, then cover lamb loosely with foil and roast 5 to 10 minutes more (or until a thermometer inserted diagonally into center of meat registers 120-125°F, depending on desired doneness). Cover and let rest 10 minutes. The temperature will continue to rise, 125°F for rare or 135°F for medium rare.

5. Carve racks between rib bones to make 4 double chops per rack. Transfer to plates and serve.