Greetings fellow foodies! So today we'll tackle a sensitive topic amongst some of our fellow Egyptians...Lamb (ضاني). It's one of those things that you either like or dislike, with no middle ground. Not to mention that whenever you state your dislike; people will either completely agree with you, or give you jaw-dropping stares that imply you told them they were adopted. For the record, I was always a fan of lamb, but my taste buds were mainly familiar with the specific recipes we grew up with in Egypt, where it was only cooked in a handful of different ways and similar spices or marinades were generally used. That was until I was introduced to the lamb rack.
Considered by chefs to be one of the most delicate and highly coveted cuts of lamb; the rack is basically a set of ribs, usually about 6-8 together. They are left intact (not separated) and have the membrane on the inside of the rack removed and bones cleaned off till about the middle. This method of preparing the raw lamb rack is called frenching. It’s a tender cut which is mostly grilled or roasted, due to the fat layer on top, while being either herb-crusted, dry-rubbed, or lightly marinated.
I was surprised by how easy and quick it is to cook lamb rack and trust me, it's a must-try. You don't get the usual greasiness and strong flavour associated with the slow-roasted lamb leg or shoulder that we are accustomed to at giant Eid feasts. With this cut, however; you get a much more delicate flavour, crispy crust on the fat side, and a blushing medium rare center which cuts like butter.
Ever since I first tried cooking this at home; we've been having lamb rack at least once a month, for both it's great flavour and super-fast cook time. This recipe for spicy succulent is a definite crowd-pleaser that never fails to impress and deliver amazing flavour. I like to serve it up with a zesty couscous salad, or some simple roasted vegetables such as eggplant, asparagus, or courgette drizzled with olive oil and pomegranate molasses; it looks fantastic on the dinner table.
Total time: 40 mins or less
- A skillet (or heavy-based oven-proof pan)
- A sharp knife
- Meat thermometer *
- I had never believed in the need for a meat thermometer till I actually bought one. They are super cheap online and provide you with accurate instant readings on your meat's temperature. No more under or over cooked meats ever again! I definitely recommend investing in one.
- 1 Frenched lamb rack (7-8 ribs per rack)
- Olive oil
- 4-5 Tbsp Ras Al Hanout seasoning*
- Salt and pepper
- Ras Al Hanout is a Moroccan spice mix that you can usually buy straight from the store. However, if you can't get your hands on it; you can always make your own spice mix at home. When I'm short on Ras Al Hanout; I basically mix together some ground cumin, fennel seeds, paprika, coriander, a bit of chilli and a hint of cinnamon. You can get as creative as you like with this.
- Preheat the oven to 200℃, Gas Mark 6
- Score the fat side with a knife*, then dress lightly with olive oil.
- Scoring is the process of making shallow cuts along the fat side (without reaching the meat itself) to allow heat to penetrate and render the fat better, as well as prevent meat from curling in some cases. To score, use a sharp knife and lightly make long strokes along the fat. You can go whichever way you like, I usually go diagonally both ways to create a checkerboard-like pattern.
- On a large plate, spread the Ras Al Hanout spice mix and begin coating the rack until fully covered. Season with salt/pepper.
- Place a skillet (or oven-safe pan) on high heat then add a drizzle of olive oil. Once hot, place the lamb, fat side down, on the heat.
- Once the fat side has rendered down a bit and began to brown, flip around and sear the lamb rack on all sides.
- Transfer the skillet to the oven, roast, fat side down, for about 20 minutes to achieve a perfect medium-rare (internal temp of 135°F).
- Once cooked, remove from the oven, take the rack off the pan and allow to rest for at least 5 mins.
- Once rested, carve the rack in either singular ribs or 2 per cut.
Do you love or hate ضاني? Try this recipe and tell us if you like it down in the comments!