For many years Spence and I enjoyed Scallops Chambord on New Years Eve with a chilled bottle of Prosecco, a roaring fire and a great movie. We looked forward to this decadent meal with the anticipation of kids on Christmas morning.
That changed after I lost Spence in 2017. I put the tradition on pause, it felt too sad to continue it. I hoped I’d feel differently one day and this year I did. The passage of time, gratitude for good health and so many blessings in my life allowed me to embrace our tradition once again. It was fabulous!
Mom is joining me for today’s Easter dinner and for the last week I was on the fence about what I’d fix. Mom is easy as she loves everything I cook – and tells me I should be on Chopped (home chef edition), with my inevitable win launching my own Food Network show but I digress.
A few days ago I saw rack of lamb and the decision was made. Mom and I both love lamb chops and I’ve made those many times. I’ve cooked rack of lamb only once and grilled it. It was delicious though my friend Terry had to start my grill as the one time prior that I’d lit it, I blew the lid back and lost all my arm hair. Spence was always my grill master and though Mom would (and could) light my grill I had decided to go a different way.
After scanning cookbooks and Pinterest for ideas I quickly realized that I hadn’t picked up fresh herbs – never a problem from May-October when my herb garden provides more than I need. What’s a girl to do? It was noon, my homemade croutons were done and cooling, our favorite Rhubarb Custard pie is in its final 20 minutes of cook time, sweet potatoes poked and ready for baking, my dijon vinaigrette prepared. I’m still in my jammies and not enough time to shower and run out for fresh herbs before mom arrives. Though dried herbs might work, I knew I could do better.
Then it hit me – make a crust using pesto with its lovely green color and fresh herb flavors mixed with Panko breadcrumbs, both of which were in my gourmet pantry! Brilliant kitchen hack if I don’t say so.
Pesto Panko Crusted Rack of Lamb – serves 2-4
1 rack of lamb
1 c Panko breadcrumbs
2 T pesto
salt & pepper
Several hours before dinner mix together the breadcrumbs and pesto. Score the fat side of the rack, salt and pepper to taste. Wrap the bones in foil to prevent burning. Cover all sides of the rack with the breadcrumb mixture using more on the fat side which will be face up when cooking. Pat it down to make the crust. Refrigerate for several hours.
Two hours before you’d like to serve dinner, remove the rack from the refrigerator and allow to come to room temperature for 45-60 minutes. Pre-heat the oven to 425 degrees. Line a rimmed baking pan with parchment paper and place the rack into the pan. Drizzle a little olive oil over the rack.
Cook time will depend on how rare you like your chops – check at 15-18 minutes for rare to medium rare (my preference) by inserting a meat thermometer look for the internal temp of 120 degrees. Remove from oven and tent, the temperature will increase to 125-130 degrees; allow it to rest for 10 minutes.
Remove the foil. To preserve the crust for serving and presentation, I cut them 2 bones per chop. I served these with a nice bottle of red wine, spinach salad with homemade croutons and Dijon vinaigrette, the aforementioned baked sweet potatoes with butter and fresh grated nutmeg – and of course the pie.