CARRE D’AGNEAU (roasted rack of lamb, for six)
2 racks of lamb, fully trimmed
1 clove garlic
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon dried thyme
2 to 3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
3 to 4 tablespoons olive oil or peanut oil
½ cup crumbs from fresh, white, non-sweet bread
3 to 4 tablespoons melted butter
watercress or parsley for garnish
French beans with glazed chestnuts to accompany (optional)
1. Score the tops of the racks lightly – making shallow, criss-cross knife slashes in the covering fat. Mash the garlic and salt together in a small bowl, mash in the thyme, then beat in the mustard and oil. Paint the mixture over the tops and meaty ends of the racks.
2. Set the racks meat side up on an oiled roasting pan and fold a strip of foil over the rib ends to keep them from scorching. (May be prepared several hours in advance. Cover and refrigerate).
3. Preheat the oven to 500* and set rack in the upper middle area. The first part of the roasting is to sear the lamb. When the oven is ready, put the racks in and set the timer for 10 minutes. When the time is up, slide the racks out of the oven and rapidly spread a coating of bread crumbs over the top of each rack, and baste with dribbles of melted butter.
4. Turn the oven down to 400* and roast the lamb for 15 minutes more, then begin checking. The lamb is done to a nice rosy rare at 125* on a meat thermometer – or when the meat, when pressed with your finger, begins to show a slight resistance rather than being squashy like raw meat. (When you have an expensive roast like this, it is better to err on the side of rareness.) Roasting time should total 25 to 30 minutes.
Sauce for the lamb
backbones from the lamb racks
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 chopped onion
1 chopped carrot
1 celery stick, chopped
2 tablespoons flour
½ cup dry white wine or vermouth
2 cups chicken stock
1 mashed clove garlic
½ teaspoon dried thyme
1 bay leaf
salt and pepper to taste
1. Whack the backbones into convenient chunks and brown them in a medium size saucepan with oil, onion and carrot. Sprinkle on the flour and let brown for several minutes, stirring.
2. Remove from the heat and blend in wine or vermouth and chicken stock. Bring to a simmer, skim off scum for several minutes, then add celery, garlic, thyme and bay.
3. Cover partially and simmer about 1-1/2 hours, skimming occasionally and adding water if the liquid evaporates below the ingredients.
4. Strain into another saucepan, degrease and carefully correct the seasoning. You should have a cup or so of delicious, slightly thickened light brown sauce that tastes like lamb.