by Karin Calloway
Racks of lamb are perfect for entertaining because they require little last-minute preparation. The presentation of beautiful Frenched racks of lamb is simplified by asking your butcher to French the racks for you.
This recipe was originally developed using boneless lamb loins. The loins are a restaurant product, but if you have access to them, by all means substitute them for the bone-in racks of lamb. Just rub the loins in the black pepper and red chili flakes along with a drizzle of olive oil, set them aside for 30 minutes and then roast them at 475 degrees for 10 minutes.
The sauce for the dish was inspired by a classic Spanish red-wine dessert sauce. Since a sweet mint sauce traditionally accompanies lamb, this sauce provides a similar flavor with a more upscale flair. The sauce can be made a day ahead. Just reheat it before serving.
Rub lamb all over with the black pepper and red pepper flakes. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for one hour. Bring to room temperature before roasting.
Combine wine, balsamic vinegar and sugar in a Dutch oven and simmer until reduced to 1 1/2 cups, about 20 minutes.
While wine simmers, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a small sauté pan. Add garlic and simmer until soft, about 10 minutes. Remove pan from heat and let cool a few minutes. Mash garlic to a smooth puree with a fork.
When sauce is fully reduced, remove from heat and stir in garlic and mint leaves. Set aside until ready to use. Warm sauce before serving. Season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper and whisk in the whipping cream, if desired.
Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Heat a large oven-proof sauté pan over medium-high heat. Drizzle with remaining olive oil and add lamb. Brown on all sides and then place in the preheated oven and roast the lamb until the desired doneness is reached (125 degrees for medium-rare), about 15 minutes. Serve one whole rack per person or slice and serve several chops per person. Drizzle with some of the glaze.
Makes 8-10 servings.
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Serving lamb in the spring is a culinary tradition that dates back to the time when lamb was not available year-round. Despite the continuous availability of lamb today, the tradition still holds.