Roasted rack of lamb is an elegant dish with tender bone-in juicy meat. This recipe is paired with a red wine Zinfandel mushroom sauce for a gourmet dinner made right at home! This post is sponsored by Terra d’Oro Winery. All opinions are my own.
When a rack of lamb hits the dinner table, eyes grow wide and mouth’s water. With a few simple cooking techniques, a beautiful juicy roast is prepared in under an hour. Are you ready to impress your guests or that special someone?
When cooking lamb, I like to make a sauce to compliment the red meat. I choose to make a savory mushroom sauce simmered in a bold red wine. You’re not going to be able to resist diving into to this feast. So grab a wine glass and give yourself a generous pour, this meal is worth the cooking time!
How to Select and Cook a Rack of Lamb
- Purchasing: There are typically two commercial lamb options. Smaller sized racks from New Zealand or Australia have a gamey flavor due to a more grass-based diet. And larger sized racks from America which tend to be raised in Colorado, or the Midwest, have a more mild flavor due to the grain-based diet. For this recipe, I used New Zealand sourced meat. Just make sure to adjust for cooking times for the smaller racks.
- Lamb Cut: A “frenched” rack of lamb is used in this recipe. Muscle and fat are trimmed to expose parts of the bone. Look for about an inch of fat above the main eye of meat, cutting more fat as needed.
- Cooking: A brief sear in a hot pan encourages flavor and color development of the protein through Maillard browning. The hot temperatures also help the fat from the lamb to render and flavor the rest of the roast. The lamb meat finishes cooking in the oven so that moisture is retained.
- Temperature: Target an internal meat temperature of 120 to 125°F for medium-rare, and 130 to 135°F for medium, as there will be about 5 degrees increase after resting due to carryover cooking.
After the lamb finishes cooking in the oven, the gorgeous roast is ready to carve, but hold on a second! Resting the lamb chops before slicing will help retain the moisture inside that you worked so diligently to preserve. At least 10 minutes is the optimal time for resting. This process allows the water that has been squeezed out of the muscle fibers during cooking to reabsorb.
Golden crust, juicy, tender and irresistible meat, just how lamb should be! As the lamb cooks, there’s time to prepare a delicious sauce to serve with this meal. The good news, it requires opening a bottle of wine if you haven’t done so already.
Thickly sliced mushrooms are sauteed with fragrant onions and garlic and then simmered in red wine. What elevates the sauce to the next level is the variety of wine specially selected for this dish. I chose Terra d’Oro 2015 Zinfandel, grown at Deaver Vineyard in Amador County. The grapes come from 134-year-old vine Zinfandel, harvested in small hand-picked quantities.
The grapes are aged for 16 months in premium French and American Oak barrels for a toasty, butterscotch and sweet caramel character in the wine. The deep garnet red color with aromas of clove, allspice and cracked white pepper elevates the flavors and intensity of the mushrooms. The characteristics of this single-vineyard Zinfandel become even more concentrated as the sauce reduces. It’s divine!
This gourmet lamb dish requires just the right wine to serve alongside the meal to complete the experience. The Terra d’Oro 2015 Zinfandel used in the sauce is the ideal pairing. This bold red wine highlights a palate with crisp and juicy layers of blackberry, plum, and cinnamon. The toasted spice notes and robust tannins and a balanced complexity to each sip. A splendid way to celebrate the autumn season through a culinary adventure for the taste buds, cheers!
Use Two Cooking Methods for Rack of Lamb
If the rack of lamb is cooked the entire time on the stove, there is potentially more moisture loss leading to overcooked and dry meat. The stovetop pan can reach 400 degrees easily within minutes, which is great for searing and color development, but not for nailing a nice warm medium-rare center. The heat transfer is not as controlled or consistent on the stovetop compared to an oven.
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Rack of Lamb with Mushroom Sauce
Rack of Lamb
- 2 pounds rack of lamb, frenched
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- kosher salt, for seasoning
- black pepper, for seasoning
Red Wine Mushroom Sauce
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- ¼ cup minced yellow onion
- 8 ounces brown mushrooms, ¼-inch thick slices
- 1 cup Zinfandel red wine
- ½ cup unsalted chicken stock
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- 1 teaspoon chopped thyme
Rack of Lamb
- Adjust the oven rack to the center position and preheat to 350°F.
- Remove any excess fat from the lamb, leaving a thin layer. Dry with paper towels. Season both sides generously with salt and pepper.
- In a large 12-inch skillet heat oil over medium-high heat. Once the oil is hot add lamb fat-side down, cook until both sides are browned about 3 to 4 minutes per side. Sear the bottoms and sides for 30 to 60 seconds until browned, 8 to 10 minutes total for searing all sides.
- Transfer skillet to the oven and roast lamb fat-side up, until the center of the meat reaches 120°F to 125°F for medium-rare about 10 to 20 minutes, and 130°F to 135°F for medium, about 20 to 30 minutes.
- Allow meat to rest for 10 minutes before slicing. Meanwhile, make the red wine mushroom sauce.
Red Wine Mushroom Sauce
- In a medium skillet heat oil over medium heat. Add garlic and onions, saute for 30 seconds.
- Add mushrooms to the pan, saute until softened, 6 minutes.
- Add wine and chicken stock to the pan, turn heat to high. Simmer until liquid is reduced to ¾ cups.
- Turn off heat, whisk in butter and thyme. Taste sauce and season with salt and pepper as desired.
- Serve lamb with mushroom sauce and pair with Zinfandel red wine.
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