A rack of lamb is to lamb what prime rib is to beef, that is tenderer and loaded with flavor. Of course, this means it's a little bigger investment, but if the occasion is right it makes a fantastic meal. Properly cooked, this is pure luxury.
Picking the Right Rack
A typical rack of lamb will be about 8 bones and will weigh in around 1 1/2 to 2 pounds though they seem to be getting heavier these days. On the bottom end, you have a thick, round piece of meat. On the rack, this is like a long, thin roast. Once cut it is a chop, similar to a small pork chop. Sticking up from the rack are the long bones. If you overcook or cook at too high a temperature these bones can burn and crumble. We will do what we can to avoid this.
A single rack of lamb is the perfect amount for two people so it makes a great main course for an intimate dinner. If you plan on one rack for two people you will probably have a chop or two left over for a late night snack. The secret is to keep it simple and to sear the lamb quickly over a hot fire then drop the heat to let the center roast. This will create the perfect caramelized crust while keeping the middle tender and juicy.
Start by visiting a reliable butcher and getting a good rack of lamb. Lamb is always a very high-quality meat. Lamb is graded with the same system as beef but the vast majority of lamb is graded choice or prime so you will have no trouble getting a good cut of meat. Ask your butcher to make sure and remove the thin skin from the outside of the rack and ask him to cut off the chine bone to make it easier to carve.
Prepping and Cooking the Rack
Next, you want to examine the rack of lamb to make sure that any loose pieces of fat have been removed. Dry it off with some paper towels and season with salt and pepper. Now wrap the bone ends heavily in foil to protect them. Place the rack on a hot, preheated grill for about 2 minutes per side to sear the surface. You want to keep the bones up, away from the fire so if you can place something on the grill, such as a loosely packed ball of aluminum foil, to prop the bones up it will definitely help.
Once you have done this, reduce the heat or move the rack to a cooler part of the grill to allow it to roast for about 20 to 25 minutes per side. You need a meat thermometer to test the internal temperature as you go. You definitely do not want to overcook this dish. Lamb reached rare at about 120 F / 50 C. and medium about 150 F / 65 C. Allow for the rack to gain a couple of degrees after you remove it from the grill. Allow about 5 to 10 minutes resting time before you carve it up.
To carve the rack of lamb, stand it up on the meat side with the bones curving away from you. Slide a sharp knife down, between the bones cutting gently through the meat. You should be able to see the bones all the way down along the back side of the rack.
Now you've mastered a truly fantastic dish.