So, I will start by saying that this Dijon-Crusted Rack of Lamb was largely Rob’s creation; he even did the cooking. Its always nice when I can take a night off and let him do the work, it makes for a very romantic date night. In fact, many of our big weekend date night-in meals are his creations. There isn’t much better than a husband who can prepare a nice dinner is there?
This kind of recipe is really Rob’s bread and butter though. Its overall very simple to make but really deep in flavor and textural elements. Rob definitely tends to stay away from complex techniques but roasting meat and combining classic flavors comes very naturally to him. He stuck pretty French in style with this recipe, despite his Greek heritage and its focus on lamb. The recipe uses a dijon base coated in pretty classic herbs and spices; things like thyme, garlic, fennel, sea salt, and mustard seeds. One Mediterranean nod he did include though was za’atar.
He paired this with carrots that he roasted in the same skillet as the lamb. The carrots were prepped in a fairly basic style: olive oil, garlic, thyme, and lemon juice. When he pulled the meat to rest, Rob also added a little Cognac to the skillet to finish cooking the carrots in the oven with it turned off.
For serving, there are a few options but I think one definitely works better. You can go with the “lollipop” method, where you cut in between the ribs. What we found, unfortunately, is that this can be a bit tricky if the bones aren’t perfectly straight and can cause the crust to flake off. What I recommend, is closer to a beef rib roast; cut the meat away from the bone and then slice. You can get better portion size control this way and its just a bit easier to eat.
Wine Pairing: Rombauer El Dorado Zinfandel
We do not drink a lot of Zinfandel, in fact this was one of only two bottles we had in our wine collection. I wouldn’t say that we don’t like zinfandel, but it’s one of those wine varietals that generally needs to be pretty good quality. We saved this bottle for a lamb-based date night meal, so Rob decided to pull it to go with is rack of lamb.
To start off, Rombauer is a winery located in Napa valley. They have a collection of different vineyard locations that they get grapes from resulting in a number of variations on the same grape sometimes. While definitely bigger and bordering on mass market, they have a good selection of non-distributed wines. While the wine is good, I would say the best part of Rombauer is the location. The tasting room sits way up on one of the hills with great views of the valley. They also allow for picnics and have some great seating areas for that.
As for the wine, it paired so well with the lamb. It definitely was as bold as the Cabs we are used to drinking. We both found that it had a very smooth mouthfeel that didn’t have much by way of spice or pepperiness. If anything the overall taste was sweeter and vaguely reminiscent of port. I tasted a note of vanilla and Rob found it to have stone fruit and berry notes.
Dijon-Crusted Rack of Lamb
- 9-10 Rib Rack of Lamb
- 2 Garlic Cloves minced
- 1/2 Tsp Fennel Seed
- 1/4 Tsp Yellow Mustard Seed
- 1/4 Tsp Brown Mustard Seed
- 1/2 Tsp za’atar
- 1 Tbs Sea Salt coarse
- 2 Tsp Peppercorn
- 3 Thyme Sprigs leaves stripped
- 3 Tbs Dijon
- 3 Carrots peeled & cut into 2″ by 0.5″ pieces
- 5 Garlic Cloves smaller size smashed
- 2 Thyme Spigs leaves stripped
- 1 Lemon 3/4 cut in thin slices & 1/4 juiced
- 2 Tbs Olive Oil
- 2 Oz Cognac
- Salt & Pepper to taste
- Preheat the oven to 450F.
- Combine the fennel seed, peppercorns, mustard seed, za’atar, and thyme leaves in a bowl or mortar and grind slightly to crack the spices.
- Combine the garlic, cracked spices, and sea salt, mix evenly.
- Pat the meat dry, very lightly score the fat cap in a crosshatch, and salt/pepper both sides.
- Spread the dijon over the meat side in a thin even coating. Cover the dijon with the spice mixture in an even layer, lightly press into the dijon.
- Place the rack in the center of a skillet.
- Combine all of the carrot ingredients, except the Cognac, in a bowl and toss to evenly coat.
- Spread the carrot, garlic, and lemon around the meat in the skillet.
- Roast for 25 minutes for medium. Turn off the oven, remove the meat, tent, and rest for 10 minutes.
- Add the Cognac to the skillet and put the carrots back in the oven (leave it off, just want the residual heat) while the meat rests.
- To serve, either cut into lollipops or remove the meat from the ribs then slice.