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Frenched Rack of Lamb with Feta Sauce

April 22, 2011

Welcome to the obligatory lamb-recipe-before-Easter post. Nice that I waited until the last minute, eh? I don’t feel too guilty, though, because, in all honestly, while lamb is all the rage this weekend, this isn’t really a recipe you’d prepare for a crowd.

Oh, you totally could prepare it for a crowd, but, rack of lamb is expensive, and you’d be standing out in chilly April weather (at least here … and we’re supposed to receive 4″ of rain by Easter Sunday, yaaaay Ohio Valley) hovering over a grill, with chocolate-revved kiddies running to and fro looking for the last egg. It might be a better recipe for a sunny, peaceful weekend when it’s just you and your honey.

Actually, the timing of this recipe is more because of my mom. She cracks me up. She knows that I’m a whacked out foodie, so on every visit or phone call she makes a point to ask what I’m planning for dinner that day.

“Lamb,” I said, with visions of feta sauce dancing in my head.

“Lamb?” she asked, shaking her head, trying to tamp down a repulsed grimace. “You sure do fix a lot of lamb.”

I thought about that for a long time. Do I fix a lot of lamb, a meat I had never even tried until three years ago?

Well, sort of. I mean, there’s this and this and this.

But I think what Mom is really responding to is the fact that I don’t eat much red meat at all, so when I answer something other than “chicken,” it really stands out to her. (That, and she doesn’t like lamb. It’s like the thing with Taco Bell, which is a guilty pleasure of mine, but a restaurant so repulsive to my mother that merely knowing that one of her kin ate lunch there irks her to no end.)

And here endeth SoupAddict’s familial history with lamb. Now on to the recipe.

The photos above show a rack of lamb that’s been Frenched; that is, meat and fat has been removed to expose the slender bones. This is actually the only way I ever see rack of lamb sold, but that could be something unique to my area.

A rack usually contains 8 ribs. You can separate them simply by slicing them apart between the bones. Or, what I like to do is to slice half of the ribs double-thick: every other rib is essentially removed, leaving a double-thickness of meat on both sides of the remaining bones (see photos above).

There’s something so very zen about grilling. Similar to puttering in the backyard garden, we connect to our ancient homo sapien roots when we cook outdoors over fire.

(Like, wow. Where did that come from? SoupAddict usually doesn’t have deep thoughts this early in the day.)

Have I mentioned feta sauce lately? No? Okay: “feta sauce.”  Feta sauce feta sauce feta sauce.

Serve with a lovely Greek salad and a glass of wine. But don’t invite SoupAddict. Rumor has it, she’s lamb crazy.

Frenched Rack of Lamb with Feta Sauce

Adapted from Barbecue University

1 frenched rack of lamb (your butcher will be able to prepare the rack, if it already isn’t packaged that way)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon dried oregano (preferably Greek)
1 tablespoon minced garlic
Coarse salt (kosher or sea) and freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup diced sweet onion
1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
Feta Cheese Sauce (recipe follows)

Serves 2.

1. Separate the ribs individually by slicing between the bones. Place in a baking dish and brush both sides with the olive oil. Sprinkle the oregano and garlic over both sides of the ribs, then season them with salt and pepper. Let the lamb marinate for 30 minutes.

2. Preheat the grill to high, preparing for direct grilling (that is, the lamb will be cooked directly over the flame).

3. When ready to cook, place the ribs directly on the grill grate and cook on all sides until nicely brown and to the desired degree of doneness, 3 to 4 minutes per side for medium rare; 5 to 6 minutes per side for medium. To test for doneness, use the poke method: When cooked to medium-rare, the meat should be gently yielding.

3. Transfer the ribs to a platter or plates and let rest for 2 minutes. Sprinkle the onions and parsley over the lamb and serve the Feta Cheese Sauce on the side.

Feta Cheese Sauce

Yield: Makes about 1 cup

3 ounces feta cheese, drained and crumbled (about 6 tablespoons)
1/4 cup milk or water
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
2 teaspoons sweet paprika
1/2 teaspoon hot red pepper flakes
About 3 tablespoons heavy (whipping) cream
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice, or more to taste
Coarse salt (kosher or sea; optional) and freshly ground black pepper

Puree the feta, milk, olive oil, mayonnaise, paprika, and hot pepper flakes in a blender until smooth. Add the cream and lemon juice and blend just to mix. The sauce should be thick but pourable.

Taste for seasoning, adding more lemon juice as necessary, and salt and pepper, if desired, to taste.

  1. Tom M. permalink
    April 22, 2011 3:34 pm

    Looks great. If I prepare this one it will be my first lamb-at-home experience. Drum roll, please. Thank you, Karen.

    BTW, I think the person who invented the charcoal chimney starter deserves a Nobel prize.

    • SoupAddict permalink
      April 22, 2011 8:55 pm

      Totally agree about the Nobel prize. I would never have gone back to charcoal grilling without it!

  2. Susan Becker permalink
    April 22, 2011 3:49 pm

    Worth waiting alllllll week for. 🙂

  3. Cheryl Cooper permalink
    April 22, 2011 5:05 pm

    I was wondering if you could do this with regular ol’ lamb chops. They’re ‘spensive but not quite as spendy as the frenched ribs (which sounds kinda naughty, doesn’t it?). And they usually have real pretty lamb chops at Sam’s. Would that work as well?

    • SoupAddict permalink
      April 22, 2011 8:54 pm

      Chops would definitely work – in fact, Steve Raichlen’s original recipe calls for lamb steaks. (‘Round these parts, it’s hard to get anything other than a big ole leg of lamb or rib racks.)

  4. April 22, 2011 6:11 pm

    Oh that’s just beautiful. I love everything about this recipe, except for the fact that I saw it a week after I made rack of lamb. Similar spic treatment, but no grilling or feta sauce. Next time!

  5. Phyllis Ryan permalink
    April 23, 2011 7:39 am

    I had a friend who did lamb chops for us every summer. These look so good, and since I never got his recipe I will use this one.

    The sauce looks sooooooo good. Glad your are back. I missed your posts.

    • SoupAddict permalink
      April 24, 2011 11:47 am

      Thanks for hanging around with such patience!

  6. April 23, 2011 4:19 pm

    I am so looking forward to the return of grill season. You put together a lovely rack 🙂

    Venturing into my first ever lamb cooking foray tomorrow. The five pound leg of lamb is resting in the refrigerator unsuspecting of the atrocities that this inexperienced lamb-cooker is going to attempt with it… Sigh.

    • SoupAddict permalink
      April 24, 2011 11:49 am

      Those lamb legs are some hunks of meat! Fortunately, the handling of it is not nearly as bad as it looks, and I know you’ll do something fabulous with it!

  7. April 24, 2011 10:42 am

    Ooh, I’ve been wanting to make some lamb and these look delicious! I love the sound of that feta sauce!

  8. April 25, 2011 10:59 am

    How come I can’t bring myself to spend extra money on lamb, but I managed to come away with a $6 wedge of blue brie at the grocery store yesterday that we totally didn’t need? I need to put my priorities back in order and get me some lamb. And make your feta suace. Wowza.

  9. April 26, 2011 12:43 am

    Haha, I love this post. My mom doesn’t like lamb either. She hates it in fact. I think it’s not so much about the taste, but some sort of mental block around eating “exotic” meats. Despite her reluctance, the once a year Easter dinner was leverage enough to get it on our table Sunday night. This looks like a very delicious way to prepare it. And the feta sauce? I’m totally sold.

    • Maria permalink
      April 28, 2011 7:04 am

      Hello Elizabeth,
      I had a little chuckle at your mention of your mother eating “exotic”, meats.
      As an aussie, I grew up on lamb. It is considered our national dish. I’m ecstatic that lamb is being accepted more readily in the US. It really is a terrific flavour.
      My favourite way with lamb is slow roasted shoulder on the bone. I rub it with olive oil, season well with coarse salt and coarsely ground black pepper, sear it really well in a very large cast iron pan, or the heavy baking dish it will be baked in. Sit it on a couple of onion halves, roughly chopped carrots, ditto celery, a couple or three bashed garlic cloves and a good splash of white wine.
      Loosely cover with double layer of foil and bake at 150c, (about 320F), for about four hours. You can safely leave it in the oven for another two hours if you drop the temperature to 130-140c.

      When it’s cooked, it will literally fall apart. Serve it with gravy made from the pan juices. Heaven!

      That Feta Sauce sounds divine! I love feta cheese. My favourites are Danish and Bulgarian Feta. They are smoother and creamier, not as dry as Greek or Australian feta, which lend themselves more to marinating and salads than for using in sauces and cooking. The Danish and Bulgarian are also excellent in dips instead of the usual cream cheese.

      Sorry for the super long comment, but I just love lamb!!! 😉

  10. April 26, 2011 3:20 pm

    Lamb is my very favorite and this looks sooooo good.

    Glad to see you back, I was getting just a teensy bit worried!



  11. Anne-Marie permalink
    April 30, 2011 9:43 am

    Feta on lamb sounds perfect and soooooo much better than the traditional mint jelly. I have never understood that. Lovely photos, as always.

  12. Karen permalink
    May 12, 2011 12:52 pm

    That lamb looks fabulous! I’ve been tempted by the racks of lamb in the stores lately…this could be a great first grilled meal of the season.

  13. Susan Becker permalink
    May 24, 2011 9:29 am

    Where are you? I’m worried about you! Please let us know everything’s okay!

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