Pan-Seared Oven-Finished Salt and Pepper Rack of Lamb with Crispy Smashed Potatoes and Roasted Asparagus

It was the day before Easter and I still didn't know what to make for our Easter dinner.  This year it was going to be dinner for two, my husband and me. This was good news since "life" had been busy lately. I had already done quite a bit of food preparation on Saturday for our church's Easter morning pancake breakfast, so I wanted to make something simple but tasty.  My husband thought I should make "Pan-Seared Ribeye" and "Steakhouse Baked Potato" for dinner because "it's easy and tasty".  He was right on track with the easy and tasty part, but it didn't seem like a special "Easter" meal.  With one last trip to the grocery store the decision was made when they still had 2 racks of lamb left.  I bought one for $27 dollars. Gulp. I kept telling myself if we went to a restaurant that served us French-cut lamb chops each entree would be $27 dollars. My only worry then became that I would over cook them. I was really bummed when I overcooked our "Prime Rib Roast" last Christmas.  It's extra frustrating when I overcook an expensive cut of meat.  And, guess what? I have never cooked a rack of lamb before.  (Cue the dramatic music). I figured this is the perfect time to give it a try though when it was just the two of us.  Sometimes you just have to go for it, and I have a decent record when it comes to pan-seared meat.  I almost didn't take pictures thinking there is no way this is going to be blog worthy on my first try.  Then I thought, "if this turns out great and I don't have pictures I'll be kicking myself." As you can see, I'm blogging about this whole dinner. I want to record all the steps for future reference. My husband told me, "I knew dinner would be good, but it was great." That's the best praise I could get!

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Pan-Seared Oven-Finished Salt and Pepper Rack of Lamb with Crispy Smashed Potatoes and Roasted Asparagus

1 rack of lamb
1 lb of fingerling potatoes
1 quart of chicken broth
1 bunch of asparagus
olive oil
salt and pepper

For the Roasted Asparagus (I made these just like I did before except I omitted the granulated garlic)

1. Wash, trim, peel the stalks with a potato peeler, and lightly coat the stalks with some olive oil, salt, and pepper.  Set the spears aside to roast in the toaster oven later.

For the Crispy Smashed Potatoes (I made these just like the Crispy Garlic-Smashed Potatoes except I omitted the garlic)

1. Place washed potatoes in the chicken broth over medium-high heat and bring to a soft boil.  Maintain the soft boil until the potatoes are fork tender.

2. Heat olive oil in a large frying pan and gently smash each potato with the heel of your hand or large spoon. Fry the potatoes on medium heat until crispy on both sides.  Sprinkle both sides with salt and pepper. Place potatoes in an oven-safe dish in a 200 degree oven to keep them warm. I did this in two batches.

For the Pan-Seared Oven-Finished Salt and Pepper Rack of Lamb (I took much of the advice from the editors of "Cook's Illustrated" in their book "The Best Meat Recipes" page 271)

1. Trim the large layer of fat from the rack.

2. Keep trimming all the fat possible including the thin layer of meat to expose another layer of fat.

3. At one point I thought I was messing up and trimming too much. Actually, I was freaking out. I thought for sure I was messing up this $27 dollar cut of meat. (I'm still having trouble getting that through my head). I was shocked at how much fat came off such a small rack of lamb. However, it was important to get to that silver membrane, and get rid of that too. You can see the pile of fat to the left and the thin strips of meat to the lower right. (I plan on keeping these thin layers of meat which look like gyro meat for a lamb sandwich). 

4. Remove the potatoes from the oven and set on the back burner that vents the oven heat. Preheat oven to 425 degrees, and preheat a couple tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat in an oven-safe frying pan.  Pat the rack of lamb dry with paper towel because dry meat browns better. Sprinkle the rack of lamb generously with salt and pepper. Place the rack of lamb in the frying pan meat side down to sear and brown.  Let it sear for 3 to 4 minutes on one side.

5.  Flip to the other side.

6. Roll back to the meat side down position and place the pan in the oven for 11 minutes or until desired doneness. The 11 minutes gave us the perfect medium rare.  There will be varying degrees of doneness between 11 and 15 minutes.  NOTE: when I put the lamb in the oven, I put the asparagus in the toaster oven.

7. Remove the rack of lamb from the oven and frying pan to the cutting board and let rest for 5 minutes.

8. The rack had 8 chops so we each had 4 served with some of the potatoes and asparagus.  This really turned out better than I expected, and the ingredient list is surprisingly short.

NOTE: by the way the lamb sandwich was delicious.

1. I made tzatziki, and slathered it on a baguette portion.

2. I fried the left over lamb slices like bacon.

3. Put it all together.

4. If I had red onion I would have added it, but it was delicious without it.


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  2. Looks like you made a good decision on the meat selection.
    Your cooking instincts are spot on. These chops look as good as
    the ones I had at Pappadeaux's in Dallas. Bet they tasted yummy.
    I could have dove into that sandwich too. m

  3. Pappadeaux's? I'll definitely take that as a compliment even though my favorite is really Pappasito's. I still think they make the best fajitas I've ever had. I'll have to write an official review for them. There is a Pappadeaux's in Denver but not a Pappasito's - boo!

  4. Have been cooking rack of lamb for years, but have never removed the fat and silver skin as you suggested. This technique resulted in the very best rack of lamb! With little fat, there was much less smoke in cooking, yet the flavor
    was just as intense. The cooking times were absolutely perfect for medium rare. you can be certain I will be using this recipe from now on.

    1. Hi,

      I've been traveling a lot for work lately and am just catching up on some thank you notes. Thank you for taking the time to let me know that you tried the lamb and that it worked well for you. Really encouraging.



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