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Lamb can have a flavor that is a little too odd for some people and I do understand that but this week, I am going to show you how to do a smoked rack of lamb which is a lot more mellow tasting, can be served medium rare and has a buttery tenderness that will melt in your mouth and all of this in about 1.5 hours.
I have included several other helpful recipes that go with the lamb such as a buttermilk brine and an herb paste. Also you will find a delightful recipe for spiced baby potatoes.. an excellent side for the Easter meal.
Now, if your mouth is watering as much as mine, I think you'll agree that it's high time to get right into the meat of this newsletter!
What You'll Need
- 2-3 racks of lamb*
- 1 Tbs. extra virgin olive oil or spray olive oil
- 1/4 c. Jeff's rub
*I generally allow about 3-4 bones per person or 2 people per 8 bone rack
Note: The racks of lamb should already be “frenched” which means the meat is trimmed from the bones leaving the bones clean on one end as you can see in the picture below, if not, you can ask the butcher to do if for you or there are tons of videos online and on youtube.com on how to “french” a rack of lamb and it's pretty easy to do.
Removing the Membrane
Remove the membrane from the bone side of the lamb. This is just like on pork ribs and requires lifting up a little piece of the skin that is against the bones and peeling it all the way off.
How to Brine the Lamb
(This step is completely optional but I highly recommend it.)
Brining meat gives it great flavor and makes it more juicy but we also know that soaking wild or gamey meat in buttermilk takes the edge off of that strong taste. My buttermilk brine accomplishes both tasks at once.
If you want to get imaginative, you can add other things to the brine such as crushed mint leaves, cinnamon, hot sauce, whatever you think sounds good. My only suggestion would be to try your special creation yourself and make sure it turns out ok before using it on guests.
Buttermilk Brine for Lamb
- 1/2 gallon buttermilk
- 1/2 gallon water
- 1 cup kosher or sea salt
In a large plastic or glass container stir together buttermilk, water and salt until the salt is dissolved.
Place the lamb in a 2-gallon ziploc or in a shallow glass baking dish. Pour the buttermilk brine over the lamb to cover the meat. Close the bag or cover the bowl and refrigerate for 2 hours.
It will take 30 minutes or more for your smoker to get up to temperature so it is a good idea to let this happen while you prepare the meat for smoking.
Preheat a charcoal, gas or electric smoker to 200-225 degrees F using pecan, hickory, or apple wood chips or chunks for smoke. You can also mix all three together for a very nice blend.
If you are using a wood smoker, build a smaller than average fire so you can maintain a lower than average smoking temperature of around 200-225 degrees with the low side of that range being best. I recommend using pecan, hickory or apple for best flavor and mixing the three together is a great idea.
How to Prepare the Lamb
Rinse lamb under cold water and pat dry with a paper towel. Spray or brush on a light coating of olive oil to help the rub adhere to the meat. Sprinkle Jeff's rub onto the meat until you can just barely see the meat. (Coat without caking.)
I use a Bradley rack to carry the lamb out to the smoker. The good thing is that the meat can be left on the Bradley rack if so desired during the smoke making it very easy to remove and carry in once it is finished.
Smoking the Lamb
Once the smoker is running at about 200-225 degrees with 210 degrees being the most ideal temperature, place the lamb on the smoker grate with bone side down. Here you can see that the temperature is at about 180 degrees and it's almost ready.
Use a digital probe meat thermometer for accuracy and smoke the racks of lamb to medium rare (135-140 degrees F). I have been using the Maverick ET-733 and I love the way it. It is a wireless remote meaning it has a sending unit that stays at the smoker with 2 probes.. one for the meat and one for the smoker. You put the receiver in your pocket or clip it on your belt and off you go. Whether you are mowing, napping or just piddling around with something else, you always know the temperature of the meat and the smoker and it has up to a 300 foot range.
I used my Weber Smoky Mountain smoker (22.5 inch version) for these racks of lamb which is extremely easy to get started using charcoal and it will maintain a steady temperature for hours on end. This also comes in the 18.5″ size but I highly recommend the larger size.
Once the lamb reaches about 135 degrees (should take about 1 hour and 15 minutes or so), remove it from the smoker grate. Let the lamb rest for 5 minutes then cut into individual chops and serve immediately.
I like to spoon a little of my wife's herb paste (recipe below) over the lamb chops just before serving and it looks and tastes fit for a king!
- Remove membrane from bone side of ribs
- Brine ribs with buttermilk brine for 2 hours in fridge
- Rinse ribs in cold water
- Spray or brush on a light coating of olive oil to help the rub to stick
- Apply a light dusting of Jeff's rub recipe to both sides of the ribs
- Preheat smoker to about 210 degrees (200-225 degrees will work)
- Place racks on smoker grate with bone side down.
- Leave ribs in place until they reach 135 degrees (about 1 hr and 15 min)
- Remove ribs from smoker and let rest for 5 minutes
- Cut into individual chops and serve 3-4 per person
Herb Paste for Lamb
This is our completely original herb paste which is simply delicious and can be served dolloped onto the lamb chops or spooned over the chops and the plate in an artistic fashion if you so desire.
1/4 c. extra-virgin olive oil
3 garlic cloves, pressed
2 Tbs. chopped fresh thyme
2 Tbs. coarsely chopped fresh rosemary
1/4 c. chopped fresh basil
1/4 c. chopped fresh mint leaves
1/4 tsp. salt
Into a small bowl or jar, press the garlic cloves. Add all the chopped fresh herbs. Top off with olive oil and stir just to combine. Add salt and stir again. Add more salt to taste if desired.
Spiced Baby Potatoes
An all original family recipe that I think you will find yourself using again and again.. they are so good! My sister-in-law, PJ, created this recipe and of course shared this with us and now I have her permission to share it with you!
- 1 lb small new potatoes (unpeeled)
- 2 T. veg oil
- 1 clove crushed garlic
- 1 t. turmeric
- 2 t. ground coriander
- 2 t. black cumin seeds
- 2 t. sugar
- 1 T. chopped chives
- 1 T. chopped parsley (optional)
Bring a pan of salted water to a boil, put in the potatoes, and boil for about 5 minutes. Drain.
Heat the oil in a metal roasting pan on top of the stove over medium heat; add the garlic, turmeric, coriander and cumin seeds, and cook for about 1 minute. Add the potatoes, rolling them around to coat. Sprinkle with the sugar, and a little salt and pepper. Place in a 350 degree oven and bake for about 30 minutes, turning them occasionally. Just before serving, sprinkle with the parsley and chives.