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Lamb chop conundrum!

RUNNERFEMME Mar 18, 2008 07:24 PM

I'm hosting a dinner party Saturday (this week!) and am planning to serve oven roasted rack of lamb. I am a dinner party veteran and am pretty at ease with the whole deal, but i'm a bit stuck on this one. I loathe recipes with tedious last minute crap, b/c i want to spend time with guests as much as possible. So, i like to do as much ahead of time as possible. Here's the conundrum. I would like to brown the racks to form a crust before throwing them in the oven, but really do not want to deal with searing 4 racks of lamb -- spitting and smoking on the stove -- with guests there. If i sear them earlier in the day, coat them with my mess of herbs, mustard and bread crumbs & then refrigerate them until i roast them will they get gummy or nasty or lose their snappy seared crust? aaargh. suggestions? solutions? reassurance??

  1. h
    Harters Mar 19, 2008 05:03 AM

    I think you have to bite the bullet and sear just before putting them in the oven. Not that I've tried the fridge idea, but I think the crust would lose something.

    1. Caroline1 Mar 19, 2008 06:10 AM

      Whenever you serve something small in size like rack of lamb or lamb chops, unless you're serving them as leftovers, you will always have a lot of last minute details to take care of.

      If you haven't bought the lamb already, you might consider switching to leg of lamb. You can buy it boneless and stuff it, or serve it bone in and roasted with a nice parsley and breadcrumb crust, then in either case, carve at the table. Short of a lamb stew, this is the only way I know of to serve lamb and have time with your guests. Good luck!

      3 Replies
      1. re: Caroline1
        RUNNERFEMME Mar 19, 2008 06:22 AM

        Thanks, Caroline & Harters. I jettisoned the boneless leg idea b/c i think bone makes it taste so good and the rack is so elegant on the plate. i considered the full-on mother lode - the bone in leg, but after reading a lot about it, decided it might be a carving nightmare or cook unevenly do to its shape. I didn't want to make my guests be guinea pigs for my first bone-in leg -- and for me to be pissed when it flops. Hey, that's what family is there for. Built-in guinea pigs!

        1. re: RUNNERFEMME
          h
          Harters Mar 19, 2008 07:00 AM

          Bone-in is the only way to go with a leg. No problem with an overcook - there's so little meat at the really thin end. For carving, just cut down to the bone - so each slice has a little bit of all the depth, if you see what I mean.

          In the UK, we can buy either a whole leg or a half. The half is one of two cuts - either the fillet/chump end (which is the top more rounded half) or the shank/knuckle (the more pointy bit towards the foot). The fillet end is great to butterfly - take the bone out and "unroll" the meat; slash it to make it roughly the same thickness. Then roast or grill over charcoal. High heat and fast. Good in a sort of middle eastern style - maybe a sauce with yoghurt, garlic & mint

          If you do your bone-in, I also recommend a meat thermometer as suggested by ChefBoyAreMe. Roast at your normal roasting temperature until it comes to 63C (I don't know what this is in Fahrenheit). That will give you a perfectly pink roast. For sauce, a classic mint one (classic at least where I am)

          1. re: Harters
            pikawicca Mar 19, 2008 07:26 AM

            Mint sauce, yes; mint jelly, no!

      2. ChefBoyAreMe Mar 19, 2008 06:38 AM

        Cook them on the grill? High heat first to sear, then move to the cool side to roast? Maybe even some wood chunk (charcoal grill) or chips (gas) to give a nice smoky flavor?

        A clean kitchen, plus once the initial sear is done, you can probably walk away while they roast, especially if you have one of those wire thermometers with a digital readout you can leave outside the grill.

        1. pikawicca Mar 19, 2008 06:39 AM

          I would sear, then refrigerate the lamb. Make the crumb topping, but slap it on right before the racks go in the oven.

          3 Replies
          1. re: pikawicca
            woodburner Mar 19, 2008 08:00 AM

            I'm not sure it's worth searing at all... if you're going to use a nice mustard/bread crumb coating, which will brown up nice during roasting, then what's the point of searing first? It will not "sear in the juices..." That's a fairy tale. Just roast at a med-high temp... so it's one step. Prep with the mustard and crumb coating and fridge... then pull it out and roast.

            1. re: woodburner
              pikawicca Mar 19, 2008 08:31 AM

              You sear the meat for the flavor that the caramelization adds. With a small roast, such as a rack of lamb, you don't get the nicely-browned exterior that is produced by the much longer roasting time of, say, a standing rib roast. Hence, the searing step.

              1. re: woodburner
                b
                Boswell Mar 19, 2008 08:40 AM

                I was going to make the same suggestion---this is the way I always make rack of lamb, with great results.

            2. f
              fourunder Mar 19, 2008 08:47 AM

              Here a thread that may help you or lead you in the direction you are seeking:

              http://www.chowhound.com/topics/469686

              My best recommendation is for you not to refrigerate after coating and searing. If you can time your day to pre-sear the lamb with your coating to about two hours before you plan to serve, you need not refrigerate. It is best to finish the lamb in the oven starting with room temperature meat. Given that it is still cool this time of year, unless your indoor temperature is above 70*, I do not think you will have any problems. I used to work @ a very large caterer and the racks of lamb were prepared and finished off in the oven after being seared earlier and left standing for a couple of hours later to be finished off in the method I have described. Never had one problem or complaint from anyone.

              I would further add that searing the meat before applying the coating is preferred from a practical stand point and for appearences. After searing the meat, let it cool before applying Dijon or Pommery Mustard(my preferred glue, rather than mayonaise). If you do not sear the meat before applying the mixture, you risk your lamb looking greyish and unappetizing when you pull it out of the oven

              2 Replies
              1. re: fourunder
                RUNNERFEMME Mar 19, 2008 09:42 AM

                thanks, everyone! Fourunder, you're a lifesaver. Your reply above says "pre-sear your lamb with coating", but the link says sear then coat. I plan to sear late in the day, then coat, then roast (425 until med rare - take out when therm reads 125 deg to allow continued cooking). i had planned to bring to room temp. before roasting, yes. In roasting, do you stand the racks on their ends facing one another, lacing the bones like clasped hands? That's what i had planned, but would love your input! I am so appreciative of everyone's input. i am new(ish) to the site & haven't posted in a while -- this help is fabulous.

                1. re: RUNNERFEMME
                  f
                  fourunder Mar 19, 2008 10:17 AM

                  RF,

                  I mis-spoke........maybe. Your actual method would depend on the following:

                  1, What your desired Coating will be,
                  2, The temperature you will be roasting the lamb racks at.
                  3, Lower temperature under 350*, sear with coating
                  4. Higher temperature over 400, maybe, maybe not

                  Sear, let cool, then coat is a safe guideline.

                  but if you are using Nuts or say Panko, searing with the coating is acceptable and possibly preferred. . The choice is yours.

                  I would stand the racks on the bones, with the bones touching the bottom of the pan, inter-laced, the meat towards the outside edge of the pan and not touching the pan bottom......do not crowd the meats and use a roasting pan large enough where the meat is a few inches away from the edge to ensure proper heat circulation......be sure the pan is not more than three inches high, and please do not throw out the pan juices. If you stand the racks on the meat down with the bones in the air, depending on how the racks were "Frenched" and the fat layers remaining, you risk the chance of too much fat in the bottom of the pan and the coating falling off.

              2. rabaja Mar 19, 2008 10:31 AM

                Season, coat with your seasoned panko, (Oil is key here, a good one. Herbs and a little mustard would be nice as well), sear. Reserve to a plate, keep at room temp before finishing in the oven, 400 works for me. Rest, cut just before plating.
                You don't really need to refrigerate the chops unlesss you're searing them way ahead of time. It will prolong your roasting time.

                4 Replies
                1. re: rabaja
                  RUNNERFEMME Mar 19, 2008 11:53 AM

                  Fourunder - (I was about to call you "FU", but that somehow gave the wrong impression..;))..and Rabaja, thank you. Here's the plan for the coating: i usually make a paste of grainy dijon, olive oil, kosher salt, pepper, rosemary, thyme,parsley, garlic & shallot (love me some shallot); then roll in fresh breadcrumbs, which have been lightly tossed with olive oil and maybe a smidge of salt. B/c the coating may be to thick to achieve the goal of searing, I will oil, S&P and then sear; then coat; let sit out and then roast @ 400+ until medrare. I will make a pan sauce too. Suggestions for that are most welcome. (And do you think panko would be better than fresh crumbs? can't decide. certainly panko is easier than making fresh, but not a big deal..).

                  I don't mean to sound dramatic, but I cannot tell you how lovely it is to have people actually respond to my questions with helpful answers! So, thank you.

                  In case anyone's interested, here's the full menu for the evening:

                  - fresh english pea soup served in very small portion (amuse bouche size) in beautiful crystal vodka shot glass (tall glass, but holds very little) with a just a bloop of creme fraiche & a sprig of something pretty - alongside a salad of shaved fennel, blood oranges and kalamatas;
                  - herb crusted rack of lamb (THE lamb!); farro risotto with mushrooms & sage; roasted asparagus w/ toasted marcona almonds, lemon & a sherry vinaigrette;
                  - for dessert - individual choc/amaretti cakes with 1-2 melon ball scoops of homemade amaretto ice cream; and a small platters of homemade lemon slices candied in lavender syrup (to die for...made it lastnight) for group picking.

                  1. re: RUNNERFEMME
                    rabaja Mar 19, 2008 04:30 PM

                    actually your fresh breadcrumbs will probably be nicer than the panko, you're right.
                    Your menu sounds great too! Enjoy!

                    1. re: RUNNERFEMME
                      f
                      fourunder Mar 19, 2008 07:43 PM

                      RF,

                      You would not have been the first to address me with FU.

                      Please note....buttered bread crumbs brown better with butter than olive oil. consider at least a 50/50 mix.......

                      1. re: fourunder
                        RUNNERFEMME Mar 27, 2008 04:15 PM

                        BTW - as a follow up - the lamb was divine.. thanks all.

                  2. sarah galvin Mar 19, 2008 04:52 PM

                    I have made the Parslied Rack of Lamb from Silver Palate for a crowd and it was easy. It is all done in the oven at 500. Place meat side down for 8-10 min. Turn meat side up and pat your crumb mixture on top. Roast 5 more min for rare. Have the crumb mixture made earlier. I have made it for stand-up party and sliced individual ribs with a small rack.

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