This herb crusted rack of lamb recipe is going to be your next go-to meal for when you need to impress but are short on time. It's quick, easy to prepare, and perfectly balances the savoury lamb and mustard with the herbs in the panko crust.
What is Rack of Lamb?
First things first: rack of lamb is a cut that sits perpendicular to the spine, and includes 16 ribs, usually sold in packages of eight. The meat attached is the loin meat, and is also what lamb chops are made out of. This is a really tender and flavorful cut, making it an easy choice for a centerpiece at a dinner party. The taste is reminiscent of beef, but honestly, still very different. The difference comes from something called the branch fatty acid, which leaves the unique taste in your mouth. The taste also depends of the quality of the lamb, the cut, how it was raised, and, if it's cooked properly. These factors are all important to look at when you're trying lamb. I've definitely had lamb with super pungent flavour, and it was certainly not my favourite. However, After perfecting this recipe I can say that I'm a huge lover of lamb, in particular this panko-crusted rack of lamb.
Do I need to French it?
A Frenched rack of lamb just means it's had some of the meat and fat removed from the bones, making for a prettier presentation (think those lamb or pork chops you see with a ton of bone exposed, and then a more circular portion of meat at the top). To me, it's totally unnecessary. However, you can ask your butcher to French it for you, or do it yourself (mind you, this takes a little practice, I'm still not good at it). I would say if it's a chill dinner for two, don't worry about it. If you're making it for a crowd at Easter or Christmas, go to the extra effort. It will be worth the ooo's and ahhhhh's when you set it down on the table.
What to Serve with Panko Crusted Rack of Lamb
There are so many great sides that could go with this dish. In the spring, I would suggest anything asparagus or pea based. In the winter, mashed potatoes or carrots would be a great choice! Here are a few of my suggestions below:
Warm Zucchini Salad with Mint and Pistachios
The Best Make Ahead Mashed Potatoes
Bacon Fried Brussel's Sprouts with Dill
Cardamom Maple Carrots with Orange Cream
There are so many great wine pairing options for herb crusted rack of lamb! If you want to stick with the classic, you can't go wrong with a good Cabernet Sauvignon. The main thing you want to look out for though is a wine with a high acidity. Lamb is pretty fatty, so you want something that's going to cut through a bit of that. A Syrah is also a fantastic choice to go with lamb: it's full-bodied and bold flavours will pair perfectly the the distinctive lamb taste (plus it goes really well with lots of different herbs, which is perfect for this recipe in particular).
Lamb brings out a bold flavour, so we're going to need to match that. In this recipe, the main flavours we're brining are Dijon mustard, a variety of fresh and earthy herbs, and garlic. Drooling yet? Me too.
What Temperature Should I Cook Rack of Lamb To?
This recipe should be cooked to a perfect medium-rare. It is of course possible to cook it more, but I really don't recommend it. To me, it changes not only the texture (making it super tough and harder to chew), but the flavour as well. You're going to start getting a lot more gaminess coming out in a well done rack. It's just not a great choice for a well done piece of meat.
What we're aiming for here is 125°F. To get there, I highly recommend an instant read meat thermometer, and taking it out at 119°F. The rack is going to keep cooking after it comes out of the oven, and by 130°F, it's going to be overdone. Keep an eye on it, it will only take 15-20 minutes in the oven!
How much do I need to cook?
Typically, I count on 2-3 chops per person when I cook this rack, and a rack contains eight chops each. So for 2 people, one rack should be just fine (unless you're both really, really hungry). If you're feeding 3-4 people, I would definitely go with two racks.
Herb Crusted Rack of Lamb
- Oven safe skillet
- Instant Read Meat Thermometer
- 1 rack of lamb
- salt and pepper for seasoning
- 3 tablespoon olive oil divided
- 2 tablespoon dijon mustard
- 1½ c panko breadcrumbs
- ¼ c fresh parsely chopped
- ¼ c fresh mint chopped
- 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
- 2 tablespoon fresh oregano leaves
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon pepper
- Preheat your oven to 400°F.
- Heat an oven-proof saucepan over medium high heat (cast-iron works great for this recipe). Meanwhile, season the rack of lamb with 1 tbsp. of olive oil, salt and pepper.
- Once the pan is smoking hot, add the rack of lamb, searing on all sides until deeply golden and crusted. Turn off the heat and set lamb aside, out of the pan.
- Make your crust. Combine panko, herbs, more salt and pepper, and the remaining 2 tbsp. of olive oil. Stir until well combined.
- Spread Dijon mustard over the rack of lamb until well coated. Place lamb back in the same pan you seared in in (if there's too much grease, carefully empty until there's about 1 tbsp. left). Cover the lamb in your panko mixture (there will be a ton of panko, this is okay! Use as much of it as you can).
- Place the lamb in the oven for about 20 minutes, until the internal temperature reaches 120°F for medium rare.
- Remove from the oven, and let rest for 10 minutes. The lamb should now be 125°F.
- Slice into individual chops, and serve. (A lot of the crust may fall off when you're carving, don't worry about it! Just spoon it back over the chops when you're done).
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