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Valentines Dinner - first rack of lamb?

Want to make a nice, healthy-ish meal for my wife and I for Valentine's day. My inclination is to do a rack of lamb, despite not having made one before. I found a few good ideas online, seems pretty simple, marinate overnight in a savory mixture, roast for 20-30 minutes for a normal sized rack (I'll use a meat thermometer, what temp am I shooting for if we like protein med-rare? 135 or so?) and rest, per usual. Am I oversimplifying this? I've had lamb before and definitely enjoy it, I just haven't prepared it myself. I have a gas convection oven now and I've found I like to activate that about 5 minutes before finishing to give a nice browned crust to the roast.

I'm planning on doing a simple garlic mashed potato along with pan-fried asparagus with a simple hollandaise sauce. My wife loves hollandaise, I don't get all the fanfare but I will try it.

Does this sound like a reasonable menu? It sure beats eating out!

Thanks for any advice,

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  1. I wouldn't change a thing. She's a lucky lady.

    1. I'll point you to the Barefoot Contessa for the lamb and the asparagus with hollandaise.
      I've made both with success.


      Asparagus with Hollandaise:

      What's nice about oven roasting vs. pan roasting the asparagus is that you can roast it in the oven just as you pull the lamb and let it rest.
      Have a sheet pan with the asparagus ready to go, and you've go one less "a la minute" dish to worry about!
      The hollandaise in the blender is easy peasy and can be made a bit ahead of time too.

      Lucky wife!!

      For med. rare lamb, pull at 135 and let rest 10 minutes, tented with foil.

      1. I liked garlic mash potatoes, but consider Michael Symon's brown butter mash potatoes - http://www.foodandwine.com/recipes/br...

        I have made mash potatoes about every way they can be made, and my wife and I think these are the best. Don't worry about the crème fraîche, sour cream is just as good in this recipe (have tried both ways).

        Can't go wrong with asparagus with a simple hollandaise sauce, but if you can find the baby tips I think they are the most tender. With mature asparagus, I have read (and tried once) to peel them - I wasn't sure this made a big difference.

        With the lamb (and the expensive of it), I agree I would pay close attention to that meat thermometer - it would be terrible to overcook. And remember, the internal temp may rise 5 to even 10 degrees after removing it. We like our meat rare, but even if desiring med rare, I might take it out at 125... certainly if you are roasting at a high temp.

        1 Reply
        1. re: pegasis0066

          I'm with you on the 125. 135 is too well done for my taste.

          I like doing a simple rub the night before with mustard, garlic, ginger, a little soy and olive oil.

        2. You guys are awesome - I will look into that recipe for brown butter mash potatoes, I am a fan of Michael Symon.

          I plan on doing the blender hollandaise and roasting the asparagus is fine as well and would certainly make the timing a little easier; pull the roast out (and I agree, we like rare to mid-rare so 125 is fine) and then put the asparagus in while it rests. I like cooking that way so despite being eager to eat the meal, I have to wait for something to cook which gives me the proper resting time.

          Thank you!

          2 Replies
          1. re: toddrhodes

            On the blender hollandaise, it's been hit or miss with me. Sometimes the consistency is just right but other times it's a bit runny. I have learned that leaving it sit 30 min or more helps reduce the runniness, and that leaving it sit won't hurt anything, in terms of it going bad or it not being warm enough.

            There is nothing worse (ok there are lots of things worse but not in the sauce department) than runny hollandaise or bearnaise.

            1. re: pegasis0066

              Thank you so much for the advice. I've only done the blender hollandaise once and my wife loved it, hopefully I can repeat that this time :)

          2. I'd shoot for 120-125F, pull it an let it rest as the internal temp will rise.

            1. i have never marinaded lamb, just roasted as you explained with a light breadcrumb mixture on the back.

              If you go this route make sure to sear the fat first. Heat a cast iron til it smokes and hold the rack by the bones until the fat browns. You have to find a couple angles if you want to get all the fat.

              1. I adore rack of lamb, have made it often, and have tried many different recipes. Although not significantly different from some others, I thought the rack of lamb from Thomas Keller's "Ad Hoc at Home" the best I'd ever made. And his directions are absolutely spot-on. Bonus points: it can be prepped six hours ahead of time and brought to room temp before being roasted, making it perfect for a dinner party or when you have other last minute things you want to concentrate on.

                3 Replies
                1. re: JoanN

                  I found a copy of that recipe online, it appears to have been reproduced with permission, and it looks wonderful. Very thorough and easy to follow for someone without any experience with lamb. Thank you for the suggestion!

                  1. re: JoanN

                    I went ahead and picked up a copy of Ad Hoc at Home from Amazon. Sounds amazing, the more I've read about it!

                    1. Made this tonight, I used Keller's recipe from Ad Hoc at Home and Michael Symon's mash potato recipe but, I fully admit I did add a little garlic :) It was a wonderful dinner but pegasis was spot on, Keller's recipe calls for roasting at 425* and the rack rose in temp by over 20* after pulling it out at 125. Was it perfect? Nope. It was still absolutely delicious though and I learned something in the process. Thanks, as always, fellow CH'ers!


                      5 Replies
                      1. re: toddrhodes

                        Oh golly. Now I must go buy a lamb rack. That does look delicious.

                        1. re: toddrhodes

                          I don’t think I’ve ever encountered a 20 degree rise in temperature during carry-over cooking. That’s very surprising. For a standing rib roast the temperature may go up as high as 15 degrees, but I don’t think I’ver ever had a rack of lamb increase by more than 10 and usually it's more like 5 degrees.

                          Happy to hear it all worked out for you, even if it wasn’t perfect. I must say, it looks like a perfectly lovely dinner to me.

                          1. re: JoanN

                            Joan, what temp do you cook it at? I use a Maverick grilling thermometer, the kind that gives both grill and food temp, I just use the food probe indoors. I stuck the probe through the side of the rack, about 5" deep into the center of the meat. I noticed the temps ramped up quick... it took longer than 30 minutes to come up to 110 but once it hit 110 it shot up to 125 within a few minutes, then continued from there after pulling it out of the oven. I had it tented with foil for about 2 minutes and realized that was not helping. I should have maybe put it on a cooling rack instead of right on the cutting board? Thank you for the input, it is very valuable!


                            1. re: toddrhodes

                              When I made the Keller recipe, I followed his instructions and cooked the rack @ 425F. I've gone back to look at my notes, but I didn't write down any specifics for time or temperature which usually means the directions in the recipe were close enough for me not to have added any notes to the book. I use a Thermapen, and would have pulled the rack @ about 125F, nearly always put the meat on a cutting board to rest, and probably did not tent with foil since he doesn't suggest it. Did you put the rack in the oven with the meat side toward the back? I did, because he said to (and when a respected chef is that specific, I'll follow the instructions as written--at least the first time). I wonder how much of a difference that might make. No idea what the temp was after resting, but you can see from the photo I posted that it was pretty much spot-on medium-rare, which is just how I like it.

                              1. re: JoanN

                                I'm the same way when it comes to something as specific as the orientation of the meat in the oven. Our oven is extremely even-cooking, it amazes me every time. I follow the range manufacturer's recommendations for roasting poultry though since it is deep enough that I can put the pan in the long way and face the legs toward the back of the oven. I did have the Convection fan on for the lamb last night longer than I intended; I wanted to keep it on just for 10 minutes to promote browning but I left it on for a good 25 minutes so that may have contributed to the rapid rise in temp.

                                When I pulled the probe out for carving, the thermometer read 147* which I thought she was well overdone at that point but you are right, it looks like med-rare in the pictures. In reality, it was closer to medium but still heavenly - this was not only the first time I've prepared a rack, it's the first time I've ever eaten it!