The Challenges in Making a Crown of Roast Lamb

Crown of Roast Lamb

Photo Credit: Artizone

Crown of roast lamb is one of the most delicious and elegant dishes you can serve as the centerpiece of a celebratory meal. It is a dish that can stymie the ordinary cook, but a second look at how it is created will show that it is not all that difficult to prepare.

In the Foolproof Way to Cook Crown Roast of Lamb posted in Serious Eats, Daniel Gritze says, “Regal. I think that may be the best word for a crown roast of lamb—lamb racks that are tied together end-to-end into the shape of a crown. And just like the crowns that grace the heads of monarchs, crown roast of lamb is all about presentation.”

Creating the Crown: Ask the butcher to do it!

Possibly the first major challenge in creating a crown of roast is getting the ribs into that lovely shape. Daniel Gritze says: “…A lamb crown roast is formed by connecting at least two racks, usually with seven or eight bones each, end-to-end. The racks themselves come from the loins that run on either side of the lamb’s spine, with the rib bones attached (for presentation, those rib bones are frenched, or cleaned of meat and sinew). To get the normally straight racks into a curved shape, the butcher makes slits between each of the rib bones on the back sides of the racks (the sides that form the outer wall of the crown roast), allowing them to be flexed like an accordion…” The good news is, the butcher should be able to do that for you.

Keeping the Meat Browned and Perfectly Cooked: Do the stuffing separately.

The inner side of a crown roast is covered by a layer of fat that needs to be browned. If a rack of rib were cooked flat, this layer would be seared, but having the meat shaped into a crown will make this quite difficult. Cooking the stuffing together with the crown will make it next to impossible. Do the stuffing separately to make sure the whole rack is pleasantly browned, and simply add the stuffing before you serve the meal.

Perfectly Done Meat: Start low then crank it up!

You want your roast to be browned on the surface yet tender and juicy on the inside. Using high heat all the way can result in an unevenly cooked roast. Besides that, a really hot oven will oblige you to keep watch over your roast during its entire cooking time. One option to try is to cook it at low heat in the beginning and bring the heat up at the final stages of the preparation. This method is called the “reverse sear”; you sear the meat after it is done rather than before.

Daniel Gritze shares his own experience with this method, saying that a 3 ½ pound rack should take about 1 ½ hours to get to an internal temperature of 115°F in a 200°F oven. He adds: “To brown the roast, I remove it from the oven and then crank the oven to its highest temperature —in mine, that means setting it to broil. Once the oven is blazing hot, I put the roast back in, this time with the exposed bones covered with foil to prevent burning, and cook the roast until it’s 130°F internally and browned outside. You need to pay close attention during the browning step, since the racks are small enough that they can overcook in this short window. I’d check the temperature every five minutes or so, checking more and more frequently as it gets close to the final temperature…”

Serving the Perfect Wine with your Crown Roast of Lamb

You can’t go wrong by serving your crown of roast lamb with a bottle of Syrah, Bordeaux, or Barolo, but Tempranillo and Pinot Noir will do just as well. One thing with lambs is that it is one of the most, if not the most, wine friendly foods around. So, once you have your rack browned and ready, choosing your wine will be a totally easy and pleasurable task.

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