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Mar 18, 2008 07:24 PM

Lamb chop conundrum!

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??

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  1. 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. 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

        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

          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)

      2. 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. 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

            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

              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

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

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


              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

                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


                  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 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 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.