Recipe - Mint Crusted Lamb Rack

Note to self: roasted mint does not look sexy even on a sexy rack (of lamb). Regardless, it sure tastes sexy, and our dinner of a mint crusted lamb rack was just perfect. I'm sure part of it has to do with the fresh ingredients we were able to use while making this - the herbs in Duc's indoor garden have proven very useful in our dishes. The lamb came from the impressive deal you can snag at Costco; no really, take a gander yourself. These came Frenched which means the meat has been shaven down/off the bone "handle" for easier eating but if you prefer them not Frenched, go for it! One thing I do like about cooking lamb and writing up recipes for it though is how simple making it really is - after all, the true flavors of the meat is what you're trying to taste and by keeping it simple, you let the lamb shine.

Step 1: Ingredients (yields 8 rib chops)

  • 1 rack of New Zealand lamb, Frenched
  • 2 tbsps garlic salt
  • 2 tbsps black pepper
  • 1/2 cup fresh mint, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup fresh sweet basil, finely chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced 
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • 1/4 cup olive oil + extra for brushing

Step 2: Prepping the lamb
I like to rub the meat with salt and pepper and let it sit before adding anything else to it. Brush a little bit of olive oil all over the rack to give it the barest of coats and to allow the salt and pepper to stick. Rub salt and pepper on all sides. Let sit in the fridge 15-20 minutes.

Step 3: Making the rub
Chop up fresh mint and basil. Mince three garlic cloves and crush one (I used a Microplane grater to get the same effect). Why not mince or crush them all? I like having the crushed garlic in there to help form a viable "paste" while the minced is for your eating pleasure afterward. Add in olive oil and mix thoroughly.

Step 4: Cooking
Preheat oven to 400°F. Cooking a whole rack requires both using the stovetop and the oven. I didn't chop it up beforehand so that the juices could stay intact. Think about how amazing it looks, smells, and tastes when you slice it after cooking, and those juices seep out. Yeah, exactly. Anyhow, in a large skillet on high heat with a tad bit of oil on the bottom, sear the meat on both sides. Basically the meat will brown just a smidgen before you know to take it off the heat. Place rack on a foil-lined baking sheet, and cover top & bottom with mint & basil paste.

Step 5: Finishing
You're going to cook it between 15-20 minutes depending on how rare you want the meat (though I prefer my lamb medium rare). In your cook time, remember that meat continues to cook even after you pull it from the oven from its internal temperature. Let the meat rest for a few minutes after removing it from the oven. Then slice and serve!

Photography by Duc Duong as he resisted eating everything immediately.