Easter Dinner: Herb Salt Lamb, (or Pork, Chicken, Cookies WhatEVER…)

Last weekend, wine writer Anthony Giglio tweeted the instagram, below, of a pork loin roast he’d slathered with an herb salt recipe I published years ago. The salt — garlic, salt and rosemary and sage chopped together by hand or in a food processor —proved to be an endlessly useful and versatile staple in both my kitchen, and Herb-Scented Tuscan Pork Roast one of my most widely-shared recipes.

I read Anthony’s very rosy Frenched pork loin as lamb and, it being close to Easter, assumed that Anthony had tailored the herb salt to suit racks of lamb, using thyme instead of sage, Provencal style. GOOD IDEA! It’s so easy to do: whip up an herb salt, rub racks of lamb with it and roast ’em.  Et voila: a chic, easy, delicious Easter dinner.

Here’s how to use the herb salt on lamb —whether rack or leg — as well as on just about whatever kind of roast you want to make for the holidays (or on butter cookies for that matter). 

Anthony Giglio

Anthony Giglio

You’ll find methods of making the herb salt by hand or processor here, or just WATCH me make it in this video with Lynne Rosetto Kasper of Splendid Table (you’ll see that you don’t really need a recipe).  Bear in mind you can use just about any combination of coarse herbs you want, sage, thyme, rosemary, savory, lavender, oregano. For lamb, I like to use the Provencal mix of rosemary, thyme and lavender, below.

Maria Robledo

Maria Robledo

…You can chop a bit of lemon zest into the mix…

Maria Robledo

Maria Robledo

Here is my tried-and-true method for roasting racks of lamb with a Provencal herb salt. For a great LEG of lamb roasting method, click here.

Recipe: Racks of Lamb with Provencal Herbs

Serves 4 to 6

Rosemary, Thyme  and Lavender Salt:
1 small garlic clove, peeled
2 teaspoons coarse (kosher) salt
1/3 cup loosely packed fresh rosemary leaves (from 6 or 7 sprigs), or a mixture of rosemary and fresh thyme leave
1/4 teaspoon dried lavender flowers or minced fresh leaves (optional)
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

2 racks of lamb, 1 1/2 to 1 3/4 pounds each, trimmed of excess fat
2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil

Rosemary, thyme and or lavender sprigs for garnishing

Make the Rosemary, Thyme and Lavender Salt.  If possible, season the lamb at least 1 hour and up to 24 hours ahead. On a cutting board, mince the garlic with the salt. Place the rosemary and lavender in a mound and coarsely chop them.  Add the garlic salt and the pepper and chop them together to make a coarse rub.

If the ribs haven’t been Frenched (trimmed), use a thin, sharp knife to slice between each rib just to the point where the meat starts; this will help the ribs to crisp as they roast.) Place the racks on a platter and rub them with the herb salt to coat completely. Set aside; refrigerate if you are not going to cook them within 2 hours. Do not cover with plastic wrap which traps moisture in the meat and inhibits creation of a crust.

Bring the meat to room temperature an hour before cooking.

To roast, position the oven rack in the center of the oven. Preheat oven to 425′ F. Place a heavy low-sided roasting pan or cast-iron skillet in the oven to heat 15 minutes.  Pat the racks dry with paper toweling. Coat the racks lightly with olive oil. Place the racks flesh-side down in the roasting pan.  Roast 15 to 20 minutes, until an instant read thermometer inserted in the thickest part reads 125′ for medium rare (the temperature will rise about 10 degrees out of the oven).  Remove the lamb from the oven and transfer to carving board.

Alternatively, you can roast the racks at 500’ for 12 to 14 minutes, turning after 7 or 8 minutes (when the meaty side is brown).

Allow the meat to rest 10 minutes before carving. With a sharp knife, slice between each rib to separate the chops and arrange on a warm platter and garnish with fresh herbs. Serve at once.

If you want to blow your guests minds, you can slice the entire loin off the rack of bones and serve the bones alongside medallions of lamb. Using a long thin knife, slice each loin off the bone in one piece; it will look like a log of meat. Cut the loins into thin slices and separate the ribs. Arrange slices and ribs on a platter or each dinner plate.

Maria Robledo

Maria Robledo

Stay-tuned for Anthony’s Easter wine recommendations.

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