Tasty, Pretty, and Pretty Easy: Roasted Pomegranate and Orange Rack of Lamb
[Jump right to the recipe: Roasted Pomegranate and Orange Rack of Lamb]
While we always have Mexican food on Christmas Eve (look for my chocolate dessert tamale recipe coming soon), Christmas dinner is whatever I darn well want it to be in any given year. I typically cycle through the old stand-bys: crown roast of pork, beef tenderloin, standing rib roasts, etc. This year, some time in early November, I decided early on that we were having lamb and I spent the ensuing seven weeks on the hunt for just the right lamb recipe. My goal was to find something easy enough to do that I could enjoy Christmas day with my family without spending hours in the kitchen and that would “feel” like Christmas.
Pomegranate is all the rage these days, and for some reason citrus and Christmas just go together for me, so when I came upon this Lamb Chops with Pomegranate Relish recipe on the Epicurious site, I knew I was on to something. The one big change I made to this recipe was to marinade two racks of lamb and roast them in the oven rather than marinating chops and cooking them individually. For the purposes of Christmas dinner racks of lamb are a little more impressive and I didn’t particularly want to grill on Christmas (shocking, I know, for a girl from Texas). Because I used whole racks and I knew they would take up more room in a bag for marinating, I doubled the marinade recipe. I also didn’t serve the relish with the lamb this year because, honestly, I didn’t feel like supreming oranges on Christmas. I expect I will serve this again as grilled chops in the spring and will definitely make the relish then as I expect the colors will be fantastic.
I think that lamb is possibly the easiest first “rack-o-meat” that anyone can cook because it’s not so huge as to be unwieldy, it works well with so many flavors, and it’s just beautiful when you serve it. Be sure not to overcook it and the results will amaze guests.
Recipe: Roasted Pomegranate and Orange Rack of Lamb
- Difficulty: Medium
- Serves: 8
- Prep Time: 30 minutes
- Marinade Time: 1-2 hours
- Cook Time: 45 minutes
- 2/3 cup fresh orange juice
- 2/3 cup red wine (such as Pinot Noir)
- 1/2 cup unsweetened pomegranate juice
- 4 Tbsp. honey
- 2 Tbsp. olive oil
- 2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
- 1 tsp. dried oregano
- 1 tsp. dried rosemary
- 2 racks of lamb, approximately 8 chops each, frenched
- Salt and pepper
- Whisk orange juice, wine, pomegranate concentrate, honey, oil, garlic, oregano, and rosemary in a non-reactive bowl to make the marinade.
- Marinate lamb in a glass dish covered with plastic wrap or in a zip-top bag in the refrigerator for 1 to 2 hours, turning once.
- Preheat the oven to 400.
- Remove the lamb from the marinade and remove any pieces of oregano or rosemary still clinging to the lamb.
- Heat a large sauté pan over medium-high heat and add 2 Tbsp. of olive oil.
- Season the lamb well with salt and pepper.
- Sear fat side down until golden, about 7 minutes. Turn over so that the fat side is up and roast in the oven for 20 to 30 minutes.
- Remove the lamb from the oven, place it on a cutting board, tent with foil, and let rest for at 10 minutes before cutting.
Recipe for Success
- Start with a rack of lamb that has been frenched – which any good butcher will happily do. The top of the lamb bones won’t be nearly as pretty if they are covered in fat.
- Use a good wine in the marinade, one that you would be happy to drink. I used a 2005 Terra Valentine Pino Noir that I bought in Napa last year and that I planned to serve with dinner that night.
- Sear the racks in before popping them into the oven is also critical because it gives you a pretty brown crust that you won’t otherwise get if you just roast the meat.