Using one of the most succulent and tasty cuts of lamb, this marinated rack of lamb is paired with creamy herbed parmesan polenta and a delectable gravy.
Coming from New Zealand, lamb has featured prominently in my past. The lamb dish that really stands above all the others, even those roast legs of lamb my mother made, was a marinated rack of lamb dish at a Cambodian restaurant in Wellington called the Angkor. Such a great restaurant. I had to leave New Zealand and move to South East Asia when they closed.
The rack of lamb cut is the most expensive cut of lamb, for a good reason. When cooked to perfection, it is tender, succulent, and delicious. However, because there is very little fat in this cut, overcooking will result in something dry and chewy. Take care of cooking time!
New Zealand lamb is exported around the world, including to Saigon, my adopted home. Australian lamb is even easy to get here and a little cheaper. But for this dish, I went top-shelf.
When buying a rack of lamb, buy it “cap off”. This means that the layer of fat that covers a large part of the rack has been removed. You can do it yourself, but it is a bit fiddly.
Perfectly seasoned and cooked rack of lamb is delicious without the addition of any other flavour components. However, in trying to recreate that Angkor experience, at least my memory of it, a marinade was essential. This doubanjiang, miso, garlic, and ginger marinade not only helped tenderize the lamb, but it also introduced an Asian flavour dimension that worked perfectly with the distinctive flavour of the lamb.
Doubanjiang, aka toban djan or chilli bean sauce, has its origins in the Sichuan province of China. It is an essential ingredient in málà style dishes. Such a dish on delectabilia is Sweating Mussels. Doubanjiang should be available from the Asian section of your supermarket. The ubiquitous brand is Lee Kum Kee.
The herbed parmesan polenta
Polenta, while having its origins in Italy, is such an adaptable ingredient that it is right at home here with the Asian flavours coming through in the lamb and gravy. The flavour from the parmesan cheese, together with the fresh herbs, make this an accompaniment worthy of its place next to the amazing lamb.
Polenta is very easy to make. With the quantities given, you will likely end up with more that you need. No problem. Here are a few other delectabilia recipes that feature polenta.
The gravy is an essential component of this dish, enhancing both the lamb and the herbed polenta. It is a pan gravy made from the roasting juices from the lamb, together with shiitake mushrooms, chicken stock, and some of the marinade. There do seem to be quite a few steps just for the gravy, but it is so worth it.
Do note the cooking time for the gravy. It needs to simmer for 10 minutes or so. This is because it contains some of the marinade that had been sitting with the raw lamb overnight. For food safety reasons, that marinade needs to be well cooked.
Marinated rack of lamb with herbed parmesan polenta
Marinated rack of lamb
- 2 Racks of lamb cap off (500-600 g each)
- 1 large onion
- 2 Tbsp Doubanjiang aka toban djan. Or use gochujang
- 2 Tbsp red miso
- 1 Tbsp brown sugar
- 2 Tbsp crushed garlic
- 2 Tbsp grated fresh ginger
- 60 ml soy sauce
- 60 ml mirin
- 1 Tbsp sesame oil
Herbed Parmesan Polenta
- 1 cup polenta medium grind
- 5 cups water
- 1 cup parmesan cheese finely grated
- 30 g butter
- 1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 cups mixed herbs basil, mint, shiso, parsley…
- 1 cup brown chicken stock
- 1 cup water
- 5 fresh shiitake mushrooms
- 10 g butter
- 4 Tbsp marinade
- 1 Tbsp all purpose flour
Marinate the rack of lamb
- Whisk the marinade ingredients together.
- Trim the fat layer (the cap) from the lamb if you didn't buy it "cap off".
- Smear the marinade over the lamb and put into ziplock bags. Expel as much air as possible and seal.
- Massage the marinade into the lamb.
- Marinate the lamb in the refrigerator overnight.
Cook the rack of lamb
- Preheat the oven to 200 degC fan on, or 220 degC with no fan.
- Remove the marinating lamb from the refrigerator and remove the lamb rack from the marinade. Retain 4 Tbsp of marinade for the gravy.
- Wipe the marinade off the lamb, and allow it to come to room temperature, around 30 minutes.
- Cut the large onion into 1cm thick slices.
- Grease the bottom of a roasting pan with some vegetable oil.
- In a hot skillet, sear the lamb on the top and bottom.
- Sit the lamb racks on top of the onion in the roasting pan. Lean them up against each other.
- Roast the lamb for 15 minutes, turning the pan half way through.
- Use a meat thermometer to ensure the internal temperature of the meat is around 55 degC for medium rare, or 60 degC for medium. If not there yet, pop back in the oven for another 5 minutes.
- When the desired temperature has been reached, remove from the oven.
- Transfer the lamb racks to a plate and cover with foil. Let rest for 15 minutes.
- Retain the onion and juices in the roasting pan for the gravy.
Herbed Parmesan Polenta
- Combine the water and polenta in a large bowl and allow to soak overnight.
- Transfer the polenta and water to a saucepan and bring to a boil, stirring frequently.
- Reduce to a medium-low heat and continue cooking for 30 minutes. Stir frequently. Use a spatula to scrap the sides and bottom of the saucepan.
- Remove from the heat and whisk in the salt, olive oil, butter, and parmesan.
- De-stem and coarsely chop the herbs.
- When the polenta is cool enough to touch, stir in the herbs.
- Finely chop the shiitake mushrooms.
- In a small saucepan, sauté the mushrooms in the butter for 5 minutes.
- Add the chicken stock and water to the saucepan. Bring to the boil then reduce to a simmer.
- When the lamb has been removed from the roasting pan, sprinkle the flour over the onions. The onions will be charred by this point, and there will be some meat juices from the lamb.
- Put the pan over a medium low heat and stir the flour together with the meat juices and onion. When the paste formed by the flour and meat juices is bubbling, pour in the chicken stock.
- Swirl around the pan, scrapping off any brown bits from the bottom.
- Tip back into the saucepan and bring up to a high simmer.
- Add the 4 Tbsp marinade and stir in. Simmer for 10 minutes. The gravy should thicken and darken.
- Strain the gravy through a fine strainer.