Welcome to the obligatory lamb-recipe-before-Easter post. Nice that I waited until the last minute, eh? I don’t feel too guilty, though, because, in all honestly, while lamb is all the rage this weekend, this isn’t really a recipe you’d prepare for a crowd.
Oh, you totally could prepare it for a crowd, but, rack of lamb is expensive, and you’d be standing out in chilly April weather (at least here … and we’re supposed to receive 4″ of rain by Easter Sunday, yaaaay Ohio Valley) hovering over a grill, with chocolate-revved kiddies running to and fro looking for the last egg. It might be a better recipe for a sunny, peaceful weekend when it’s just you and your honey.
Actually, the timing of this recipe is more because of my mom. She cracks me up. She knows that I’m a whacked out foodie, so on every visit or phone call she makes a point to ask what I’m planning for dinner that day.
“Lamb,” I said, with visions of feta sauce dancing in my head.
“Lamb?” she asked, shaking her head, trying to tamp down a repulsed grimace. “You sure do fix a lot of lamb.”
I thought about that for a long time. Do I fix a lot of lamb, a meat I had never even tried until three years ago?
But I think what Mom is really responding to is the fact that I don’t eat much red meat at all, so when I answer something other than “chicken,” it really stands out to her. (That, and she doesn’t like lamb. It’s like the thing with Taco Bell, which is a guilty pleasure of mine, but a restaurant so repulsive to my mother that merely knowing that one of her kin ate lunch there irks her to no end.)
And here endeth SoupAddict’s familial history with lamb. Now on to the recipe.
The photos above show a rack of lamb that’s been Frenched; that is, meat and fat has been removed to expose the slender bones. This is actually the only way I ever see rack of lamb sold, but that could be something unique to my area.
A rack usually contains 8 ribs. You can separate them simply by slicing them apart between the bones. Or, what I like to do is to slice half of the ribs double-thick: every other rib is essentially removed, leaving a double-thickness of meat on both sides of the remaining bones (see photos above).
There’s something so very zen about grilling. Similar to puttering in the backyard garden, we connect to our ancient homo sapien roots when we cook outdoors over fire.
(Like, wow. Where did that come from? SoupAddict usually doesn’t have deep thoughts this early in the day.)
Have I mentioned feta sauce lately? No? Okay: “feta sauce.” Feta sauce feta sauce feta sauce.
Serve with a lovely Greek salad and a glass of wine. But don’t invite SoupAddict. Rumor has it, she’s lamb crazy.
Frenched Rack of Lamb with Feta Sauce
adapted from Barbecue University
1 frenched rack of lamb (your butcher will be able to prepare the rack, if it already isn’t packaged that way)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon dried oregano (preferably Greek)
1 tablespoon minced garlic
Coarse salt (kosher or sea) and freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup diced sweet onion
1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
Feta Cheese Sauce (recipe follows)
1. Separate the ribs individually by slicing between the bones. Place in a baking dish and brush both sides with the olive oil. Sprinkle the oregano and garlic over both sides of the ribs, then season them with salt and pepper. Let the lamb marinate for 30 minutes.
2. Preheat the grill to high, preparing for direct grilling (that is, the lamb will be cooked directly over the flame).
3. When ready to cook, place the ribs directly on the grill grate and cook on all sides until nicely brown and to the desired degree of doneness, 3 to 4 minutes per side for medium rare; 5 to 6 minutes per side for medium. To test for doneness, use the poke method: When cooked to medium-rare, the meat should be gently yielding.
3. Transfer the ribs to a platter or plates and let rest for 2 minutes. Sprinkle the onions and parsley over the lamb and serve the Feta Cheese Sauce on the side.
Feta Cheese Sauce
Yield: Makes about 1 cup
3 ounces feta cheese, drained and crumbled (about 6 tablespoons)
1/4 cup milk or water
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
2 teaspoons sweet paprika
1/2 teaspoon hot red pepper flakes
About 3 tablespoons heavy (whipping) cream
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice, or more to taste
Coarse salt (kosher or sea; optional) and freshly ground black pepper
Puree the feta, milk, olive oil, mayonnaise, paprika, and hot pepper flakes in a blender until smooth. Add the cream and lemon juice and blend just to mix. The sauce should be thick but pourable.
Taste for seasoning, adding more lemon juice as necessary, and salt and pepper, if desired, to taste.