Roasted Rack of Lamb with a Curry, Date, Chili & Almond Crust
By: Chef Gordon Hamersley
You don’t have to be Julia Child – or Gordon Hamersley, for that matter – to roast a rack of lamb at home. This recipe, plucked from the pages of Hamersley’sBistro Cooking at Home, marries French and Middle Eastern flavors with a hint of Latin American spice for a dish that’s as exquisite as it is simple.
Soak the chili in hot water until softened, about 15 minutes. Chop the chili coarsely.
Heat about 3 tablespoons of the vegetable oil in a sauté pan over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until soft, about 10 minutes. Lower the heat to medium-low and add the curry powder. Continue to cook, stirring frequently, until the onion has browned, about 20 minutes.
Put the onion, ancho chili, dates and sherry vinegar in the bowl of a food processor and process until a paste forms. Transfer the paste to a bowl, mix in the almonds and the chopped mint, and season with salt and pepper to taste.
Heat the oven to 425 degrees. Season the lamb all over with salt and pepper. Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons oil in a large sauté pan over high heat. Brown the lamb, one rack at a time, meat side first. Turn, and brown the other sides. Remove the lamb from the pan, but don't clean the pan.
Allow the lamb to cool for a few minutes. Set aside 1/4 cup of the chili-date mixture. Using a rubber spatula or your fingers, spread a thin layer of the remaining chili-date mixture on the meat side of each rack.
Arrange the lamb in a roasting pan, preferably one with a rack, with the chili-date mixture facing up. Roast the lamb until it registers about 125 degrees Fahrenheit on a thermometer for rare; 130 degrees Fahrenheit for medium rare; about 15 to 20 minutes (begin checking at 15 minutes). Remove the lamb to a cutting board, cover loosely with aluminum foil, and allow the meat to rest for at least 5 minutes.
Pour off any excess fat from the sauté pan. Add the chicken broth to the pan and cook over high heat, scraping up the browned bits on the bottom of the pan, until the broth is reduced by half. Add the reserved 1/4 cup chili-date mixture to the sauce and whisk to combine. Season with salt and pepper.
Slice the lamb rack into one or two bone chops, and serve 3 to 4 chops per person. As you cut the chops apart, be careful not to let too much of the date crust fall off the meat. Spoon some of the sauce around the chops and decorate the plate with whole mint leaves.