February brings a sentimental air to the table. For Valentine’s Day – or any evening you want to show your beloved how much you care – expand your culinary skills with St. Martin’s Mint Herbed Crusted Rack of Lamb.
“The Mint Herbed Crusted Rack of Lamb is considered to be one of the most difficult dishes to prepare. When it is done right, the smell of it alone will incite romance,” says John Sarvarian, the European manager of St. Martin’s Bistro. “It is a true delicacy to the taste buds.”
Sarvarian suggests “having your butcher trim off two inches of fat between each chop in the rack, exposing the tips of the rib bones.” This is known as “frenching” the racks. To complete the entree, accompany the lamb with small roasted red potatoes and a medley of seasonal fresh vegetables such as asparagus, sugar snap peas and carrots.
In all fairness, St. Martin chef T. Pinda does have more than 50 years’ experience with French cuisine. But even amateur chefs like to master one great recipe.
So buy your Valentine’s Day card, set the table with flowers and candles, and get ready to show off.
MINT HERBED CRUSTED RACK OF LAMB
2 T. Dijon-style mustard
2 T. olive oil
2 T. fresh lemon juice
½ t. salt & fresh ground pepper, plus salt and pepper to taste
3 cups (6 oz) fresh herbed bread crumbs mixture (recipe follows)
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/3 cup minced fresh mint
3 racks of lamb, about 1 ½ pounds each, trimmed
¼ cup (2 oz) unsalted butter, melted
Position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 400 degrees. In a small bowl, whisk together the mustard, olive oil, lemon juice and ½ teaspoon each of salt and pepper. Set aside. In a food processor fitted with the metal blade, combine the bread crumbs, garlic and mint, and salt and pepper to taste. Process until well mixed. Set aside.
Lay the racks of lamb in a roasting pan, side-by-side and fat side up. Roast on the middle rack for 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and immediately rub the mustard mixture on the top of the lamb. Then spread the bread crumb mixture evenly on the mustard. Drizzle the melted butter evenly over the bread crumbs and return the lamb to the oven.
Continue to roast the lamb about 20 minutes, until crumbs are golden and an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest portion of a rack away from the bone registers 130-135 degrees or medium rare. Transfer the lamb to a cutting board, and cover with aluminum foil to rest for 10 minutes before carving. Slice the lamb between the ribs, and arrange two or three ribs on each warmed plate. Serve immediately.
FRESH HERBED BREAD CRUMBS
4 slices white bread
Pinch of salt & fresh ground pepper
¼ t. chopped fresh thyme or 1/8 t. dried thyme
¼ t. chopped fresh rosemary or 1/8 t. dried rosemary
Cut crust from bread and discard. Tear into pieces in food processor equipped with the metal blade or in a blender. Combine bread, salt and pepper. Process mixture until it forms crumbs. Add thyme and rosemary. Mix well. Set aside.