Rack of lamb has always sounded like a dish that should be prepared only for special occasions or ordered in a fine dining restaurant – that is, until I learned how ridiculously easy it is to grill!
The meat attached to the rack is some of the most tender and succulent that you can get. Similar in texture to filet mignon, it pretty much melts in your mouth. The rack is is the cut that the the long, elegant thin-boned lamb chops and lamb “lollipops” come from. However on the grill, it is better to cook the entire rack and then cut it into chops after the meat has rested.
My preferred method of grilling a whole rack is to use both direct heat for getting that great crust with a little char and then finishing it to medium-rare (or your preferred temperature is) with indirect heat. I find this to be the best way to avoid 10 minutes of moving the meat around the grill to avoid flare-ups.
The rub for this particular recipe would be great on any cut of lamb, including a boneless leg. Coriander seed has a wonderful lemony quality that sits very well with the fresh rosemary. The addition of the lemon zest gives the finished lamb an intoxicating lemony perfume. The rub has sufficient salt for 2 pound of meat, so if your leg of lamb is 4 pounds, double the rub recipe (and so on).
Rosemary and Coriander Crusted Rack of Lamb
serves six to eight
2 lamb racks, trimmed and Frenched*
1 tablespoon coriander seeds
1 1/2 teaspoons black peppercorns
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh rosemary
Zest from one lemons
Olive oil, for drizzling
Rinse lamb and pat dry with paper towels. Toast the coriander seeds in a dry pan over medium heat until fragrant; about 1 to 2 minutes. Transfer toasted coriander seeds and black pepper to a spice grinder (or with mortal and pestle) and finely grind. Transfer to a small bowl and stir in the salt, chopped rosemary, and lemon zest. Rub over the meat of lamb racks using all the seasoning. Marinate/cure in refrigerator for at least 4 hours and as long as overnight loosely covered with plastic wrap. Remove from refrigerator 45 minutes before grilling to take the chill off the meat.
Set up grill for two heat zones – both direct and indirect cooking over medium-high heat. Brush and oil the grates when ready to grill.
Drizzle olive oil over both sides of the meat and then lightly cover the bare lamb bones with foil to keep them from burning. Place the racks fat side up on the direct side of the grill. Cook for 8 minutes; flip and cook for 2 minutes to get a little char on the crust – beware of flare ups. Then stand ribs on end, leaning against each other, and brown the ends for a couple minutes. Move to the indirect side of the grill, cover and continue cooking for about another 10 minutes. The lamb will be done when the internal temperature of the meat reaches be 130°F for medium-rare. Remove from grill and let stand for 5 minutes before cutting into portion size chops.
*Frenched lamb racks have had the meat scraped away from the bones for better cooking and a more attractive presentation. Have your butcher trim and French the racks for you or check out this video from Fine Cooking to give it a go yourself.
Cheers and Happy Grilling!