Rack of Lamb with Dijon & Panko Crust

Though we often think of rack of lamb as a special occasion dish because of the price, it’s quick and easy enough to prepare any night of the week. This classic French preparation is the way I learned to cook it over 20 years ago when I was an apprentice at L’Auberge Chez Francois, and it’s still my favorite method. You sear the racks in a blazing-hot pan, brush them with Dijon mustard, coat them with seasoned bread crumbs, and then finish cooking them in the oven. The meat turns out exceptionally flavorful, especially considering how simple the recipe is.

What You’ll Need To Make Rack of Lamb with Dijon & Panko Crust

rack of lamb ingredientsYou’ll need two 8-rib racks of lamb for this recipe (count on about 4 ribs per person). When purchasing, look for racks that are already “frenched,” meaning the rib bones are exposed and most of the fat layer has been removed. Even if the racks are frenched, they will likely need a bit more prep to remove additional fat and silver skin. I recommend asking your butcher to do this for you, as it is the only time-consuming part of the recipe, but there are great YouTube tutorials if you have to do it yourself.

Step-by-Step Instructions

Step 1: Season the Racks

To begin, sprinkle the lamb evenly with 1 teaspoon each salt and pepper.

seasoning rack of lamb with salt and pepper

Step 2: Sear the Racks

Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a heavy cast-iron or oven-proof stainless-steel skillet over high heat. With your exhaust fan on, sear the lamb for 4 minutes on the first side, or until nicely browned. (The bones of the racks will hang over the edges of the skillet; that’s okay.)
searing lamb on the first side

Turn the racks over and sear for 4 minutes more. Don’t worry about searing the ends; they’ll brown in the oven. (Although the lamb is eventually covered with mustard and panko, searing it first caramelizes the surface of the meat and gives it a highly flavorful crust.)

searing the lamb on the second sideStep 3: Prepare the Panko Coating

Meanwhile, in a small bowl, combine the panko with the remaining teaspoon of oil, the thyme, ¼ teaspoon salt, and a few grinds of black pepper.

panko coating ingredients in bowlToss until the panko is well-coated with the oil and seasonings.

mixed panko coatingStep 4: Coat the Racks with Dijon and Panko Mixture

Using a spoon or brush, spread the mustard all over the meat – you can do this right in the pan (after you’ve removed it from the heat), using tongs to maneuver the racks – then arrange the racks fat/meatier-side up in the skillet.

racks of lamb coated with Dijon mustard Sprinkle the panko mixture over the mustard coating on the top and sides of the racks (don’t worry about the bottom sides), pressing with your hands to adhere.

lamb coated with panko mixtureStep 5: Roast in the Oven

Slide the pan into the oven and roast for 15 to 18 minutes, or until a thermometer inserted into the center of one of the roasts registers between 135°F/57°C (medium) and 140°F/60°C (medium-well).

(If you don’t have an ovenproof skillet, transfer racks to a foil-lined baking sheet before roasting.)

cooked rack of lamb in skillet

I find that it’s hard to get an accurate read on a meat thermometer for rack of lamb, so I’d suggest using the timing guidelines given here instead of (or at least in addition to) a thermometer. The USDA recommends cooking lamb to a temperature of at least 145°F/63°C, but many people prefer it rarer. I think an internal temperature of 135°F/57°C (medium) is perfect, as the meat continues to rise several degrees while resting. If you’d prefer, cook a bit longer to meet USDA guidelines.

Step 6: Carve and Serve

Transfer the racks to a cutting board, cover with foil to keep warm, and let rest for 10 minutes. Cut into single or double chops.

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