There’s nothing like a delicious roasted rack of lamb dinner to celebrate a special occasion! And, yesterday was special. Stan and I celebrated 13 years of being together. Now that we’re married, we don’t really celebrate our dating anniversary anymore, but on May 27, I always smile knowing it’s a special day.
As all relationships do, ours has greatly evolved in 13 years (and thankfully, so have our hair styles). When we started dating, I never imagined we’d one day get married. I was 18, a freshman in college, and I had gotten into a bar downtown with my pathetic fake ID. And there he was – the cute bar-back behind the bar in his Dr. Martens (a weakness of mine back then). He introduced himself, wrote his number on a pack of matches, and that was that! Fast forward 13 years, and we have a beautiful daughter, two sweet, wacky rescue dogs, and I’m happier than I’ve ever been.
So, even though we don’t do gifts and cards and the whole rigmarole on this day, I did want to do something special for Stan and Maddie. I have a few special occasion meals in my repertoire, but none elicit the same look of excitement on Stan’s face as my herb crusted rack of lamb. It’s, if I do say so myself, really delicious.
It’s also easy enough to make, and pairs well with just about any side dish. I’ve made it with rosemary polenta, roasted potatoes, mashed potatoes, mushroom risotto, and a few other things that aren’t coming to mind. Last night, I happened to have sweet potatoes on hand, so I used those.
As you will see in the video at the end of this post, she was a fan! She even loved gnawing on the lamb chop.
Without further ado, here are the recipes:
Herb Crusted Rack of Lamb:
The rack is seared, crusted with a delicious homemade garlicy, herbaceous, homemade breadcrumb mixture, and finished in the oven. You can use store-bought panko breadcrumbs, and elevate the flavor with chopped garlic, fresh rosemary and parsley, salt, pepper, and olive oil, but if you have a little extra time and a food processor, go for the homemade. It’s worth the extra 20 minutes!
- 2 (8 bone) racks of lamb, trimmed
- 1 cup seasoned breadcrumbs
- 1 demi-baguette
- Two tbsp. olive oil
- 4 garlic cloves
- 6 sprigs of fresh rosemary, stems removed
- Small handful of Italian parsley, large stems removed
- 2 tbsp. olive oil
- 2 tbsp. Dijon mustard
- Salt and pepper
To make the breadcrumbs, cut the demi-baguette into medium sized crouton shaped pieces, coat in olive oil, salt and pepper, and bake in a 350 degree oven. They’re finished when they are golden, and firm on the outside, but still soft on the inside – about 10 minutes.
Toss the croutons in a food processor with the garlic, rosemary, parsley, and additional salt and pepper, and pulse until they’re evenly broken down into large breadcrumbs. The mix should be a little moist from the olive oil used during baking. This is what will turn the breadcrumbs into the golden brown color we want during roasting. If it feels dry, add a little olive oil to the food processor and pulse until incorporated. Put the breadcrumbs in a large bowl.
When you remove the croutons from the oven, turn the oven up to 450 degrees for your lamb.
While the Croutons are baking, you can prepare your lamb. I leave quite a bit of fat on (most will cook off when searing), but I do remove any visible silver skin, as it’s inedible. It takes a few minutes, but it’s worth it. I use a boning knife, get right under it, and peel it off with your knife, careful not to cut into the lamb meat. Once the rack is trimmed to your liking, coat all sides with salt and pepper.
Now it’s time to sear the meat. I like using a large cast iron skillet, but any frying pan will work. Depending on how big your skillet is, you may want to sear the racks one at a time. Turn your stove on to medium-high heat, add the olive oil (enough to coat the bottom of the pan) and when the oil is hot (but not smoking) put the meat in fat side down. Sear it until it’s nicely browned (about 4 minutes) and then do the same to the bottom and sides.
When the rack is finished searing, move it to a lined baking sheet, and coat all sides with Dijon mustard.
Then, put the rack in the bowl of breadcrumbs, and coat on all sides, especially the top. I take a handful, and really press them down onto the meat, packing them on as much as I can.
Place the prepared racks on a baking sheet, and put them in the 450 degree oven for about 15 to 20 minutes. All ovens cook a little differently, so check the racks every so often to ensure the bread crumbs aren’t burning. If they look like they’re getting a little too dark, turn your oven down to 400 degrees, and let them cook a little longer.
I cooked my racks for 18 minutes, and then turned my oven down to 400 and cooked them for another five. They were a perfect medium rare.
Sweet Potato and Garlic Mash
These are super easy, healthy, delicious, and dairy free. I don’t add any milk or butter, as you would for a traditional mash potato – you can, but it really isn’t necessary.
- 5 sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into larger bite-sized pieces
- 6 garlic cloves, smashed, peel removed
- Olive oil
- Salt and Pepper
Toss the sweet potatoes and smashed garlic in olive oil, salt and pepper, and put in a single layer on a lined baking sheet. Roast them in the oven until they are soft, but not mushy.
The temperature really doesn’t matter too much. If I don’t have anything else in the oven, I usually roast them at 400 degrees. Since I was using the oven at varying temperatures for the croutons and lamb, I just put them in the 350 degree oven with the croutons, and then left them in there as the oven heated up to 450 for the lamb. Just keep your eye on them at the higher temp to make sure they aren’t burning.
When they are finished roasting (about 20 minutes), transfer to a big bowl, and mash them with a potato masher until they are your preferred texture. I like them a little more on the rustic side, but you can use an electric mixer if you like them smoother.
Another super easy and delicious side, these can be steamed, grilled, sautéed, boiled (though why would you want to), and my favorite, roasted.
- Bunch of asparagus
- Olive oil
- Half a lemon
- Salt and pepper
Much like the sweet potatoes, the temperature I use for roasting these depends on what else I have going on in the oven. If nothing else is in there, I’ll do 400 degrees. But, you can really do them at any temperature.
I prepare them by snapping off the bottom white part, and tossing the asparagus in enough olive to coat, as well as a drizzle of lemon juice. Top with a little salt and pepper, and they’re ready for roasting. They’re done when they’re wrinkly, but not pruney, if that makes any sense.
Spinach, Tomato and Gorgonzola Salad
This is super easy, and delicious! I really don’t measure when I cook, so I don’t have exact measurements for this salad. If you like it cheesier, add more cheese. If you like it tomato-ey, add more tomatoes… You get the drift.
- Grape tomatoes, sliced in half
- A wedge of gorgonzola, crumbled
- Balsamic vinaigrette
Put your dressing in the bottom of your serving bowl. I made my own, and I don’t keep track of the measurements. I did a couple glugs of balsamic vinegar, one glug of olive oil, a dollop of honey, a spoon full of Dijon mustard, and a dash of salt, pepper, and garlic powder. Whisk it together, and there you go!
Top the dressing with the spinach, tomato, and cheese, and wait to toss until just before you serve so it won’t get soggy.
So, that’s it! It was a delicious meal! Stan must have said 100 times how much he loved it. He even said it again a few times this morning.
Maddie was watching me cook from her Learning Tower. She was eating the sweet potatoes as I mashed them. And she had a few grape tomatoes and cheese nibbles while I assembled the salad. And then she ate a full meal of lamb, sweet potato, and asparagus. Check her out!
The only thing she didn’t try was our delicious A to Z Pinot Noir. You’ll have to wait a few years, sweetheart!
I hope you try these recipes and dazzle your loved ones with them. Let me know how it goes if you do!
And to my sweet Stan, happy anniversary, babe! The past 13 have been great, and I look forward to many many more with you. I love you.