HERB-CRUSTED RACK OF LAMB

This herb crust is a delicious coating for rack of lamb, giving the already-succulent meat a subtle Provençal flavor. But if you’d rather not fuss with a crust, use the heat and timing directions in this recipe anyway- just eliminate the mustard and crumbs. Cooking time is the same for crumbed and uncrumbed racks of lamb.

SERVES 4 TO 6
1/4 cup, fresh parsley – minced
1/4 cup, fresh tarragon – minced
1/4 cup, fresh rosemary – minced
2 tablespoons, fresh thyme – minced
1 cup, freshly made bread crumbs – not too fine
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon, garlic – minced
1 1/2 tablespoons, oil-cured black olives – pitted and minced
1/2 cup, olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
2 racks of lamb (each about 2 to 2 1/2 pounds)
2 scant tablespoons, Dijon mustard

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Combine the fresh herbs, bread crumbs, garlic, olives, and 5 tablespoons of the olive oil. Season with salt and pepper and set aside.

In a large sauté pan heat the remaining 3 tablespoons of olive oil until hot but not smoking (the oil will ripple gently in the pan when it is hot enough). Season the lamb racks with salt and pepper, place them in the pan, and cook until crispy brown on both sides – about 7 minutes. If the racks seem crowded, use two pans, or do one rack at a time.

Remove the lamb racks from the pan and carefully brush each one with mustard on the section right over the eyes of the chops and the section directly in front of the eyes of the chops; this will create one mass of mustard over the rounded top and front of the racks (do not spread mustard on the skinny rib bones or on the undersides of the lamb racks). Gently pat the herb mixture onto the mustard coating, and place the lamb racks on an oiled roasted pan, crust side up. Cook in the preheated oven until the lamb reaches an internal temperature of 130 degrees – about 10 to 12 minutes (or 12 to 15 minutes for larger or fattier racks of lamb). Allow the racks of lamb to rest for 10 minutes before carving.

Recipe adapted from: The Dean & Deluca Cookbook, edited by David Rosengarten with Joel Dean and Giorgio DeLuca (Random House)