Rack of Lamb, Easter Edition

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Last weekend, I was looking for something unique to make for dinner. My family and I were headed over to the in-laws house for ham on Easter Sunday, so I was off the hook didn’t get to make anything for Easter dinner. We did have some friends come visit for dinner on Saturday night and that gave me an opportunity to smoke something this weekend. Hooray for friends! I decided to go out on a limb and try something new. What better time to experiment with cooking than with dinner guests? On my Instagram account (link in the IG icon at the top of the page) I have been seeing people from Australia post about smoking lamb, which I guess is more common down there than here in North America. If you’ve never had it before, lamb is a unique meat: it cooks to various levels of doneness like beef, is a bit gamey in flavor, and smells awful like fish when raw out of the package. I like that rack of lamb is a fairly quick smoke, lasting two hours. Here’s what I did for my maiden voyage with rack of lamb:

Meat: Rack of Lamb: two racks, 2.25 lbs. total

Ingredients (dry brine): 1 T kosher salt, 1/2 T rosemary

Ingredients: 2 T olive oil, 2 teaspoon Santa Maria seasoning

Wood: Apple

Smoke Temperature: 240°F/115.6°C

Time: 2 hours

Finish Temp.: 140°F/60°C

Lamb isn’t as abundant as other meats, so make sure to keep an eye out for grocery stores around that sell it. With it being not as abundant, it can be more costly than other cuts of meat. The racks of lamb I found were at Costco, which is known for being lower in price for quality meats, and cost $10.99/lb.

Costco comes through with the rack of lamb!
Costco comes through with the rack of lamb!

You may notice on the package it says the rack of lamb is “Frenched.” In culinary terms, this means the meat, fat, and cartilage between the tips of the bones are cleaned, making the bone exposed for a neater presentation. I remember in high school, “Frenched” meant something totally different.

WARNING: When opening the package, be ready to be slapped in the face with an awful stench coming forth out of the bag. I mentioned that lamb has a bit of a gamey taste, it also has a smell that will remind you of fish…if you dropped your fish in a sewer. Make sure to rinse the meat and dab dry with a paper towel.

Like pork ribs, they have a membrane on the bone side. It’s not mandatory to have it removed, but provides more of a clean bite through if you do. To peel off the membrane, use a knife to get between the film of the membrane and the meat. Once you have dug your knife under a little ways, grab a paper towel for a tight grip on the membrane and pull it off. It is supposed to be a clean rip off, but that has never happened to me. I’m still bad at it. If any of you have pointers, please let me know.

Insane in the membrane...
Insane in the membrane…

I decided to do a dry brine on the meat. The dry brine involves no water, but sprinkling the kosher salt and other ingredients and thrown into the fridge for some time. I did kosher salt and rosemary and had it in the fridge for about two hours. The salt penetrates the meat well and helps bring out the flavor.

Lamb, kosher salt, and rosemary
Lamb, kosher salt, and rosemary

As you may see in the picture, I scored the fat on the top part of the lamb. To score the fat means to cut through it, usually in a criss-cross pattern. I did this to help the brine, and later the seasonings, get to the meat better. After just under two hours, I pulled it out and put the olive oil, Santa Maria seasoning, and a wee bit more of rosemary on top.

Santa Maria seasoning and rosemary. (Not pictured: olive oil)
Santa Maria seasoning and rosemary. (Not pictured: olive oil)

Now that the smoker is up to temp with a mix of coals and apple wood in the firebox, I put the racks of lamb in the main chamber, bone side down, and let them stay there for two hours.

Racks on.
Racks on (chicken drumsticks in the background in case I screw these up).

Lamb can be finished to similar temps like beef. I looked at some various recipes and the concensus was they are good at 135-140°F, which is medium rare to medium. Even though they were in for two hours, I recommend using a digital meat thermometer to more accurately tell the temp on the meat. Adjust smoking time accordingly. Once you have reached that desired temp, you can either pull it out and let it rest or sear it and let it rest. Either way, let the lamb rest for about 10 minutes to let the meat get more juices in, which means more flavor.

Flame seared for 20-30 seconds on each side.
Flame seared for 20-30 seconds on each side.

And then this picture…

Nice rack.
Nice rack.

After resting, I cut it between the bones and we feasted in the juicy, medium rare goodness. Since the four of us never had rack of lamb before, we learned that 3 out of 4 adults prefer the taste of rack of lamb over…um, something else that might be almost as good.

The finished product.
The finished product.

I’m glad I tried something new here. I discovered I like lamb. I hope you give it a shot sometime!

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