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What is Rack of Lamb?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: Kristen Osborne
  • Last Modified Date: 12 September 2016
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Rack of lamb is a cut of lamb from the ribs. The rib section is cut out and roasted whole, brought to table in its complete form for cutting and serving. This is a popular cut of lamb in many regions of the world and there are numerous ways to prepare it. Most butcher shops carry rack of lamb in the spring, during lambing season, and can order it by special request at other times of the year. Off-season rack of lamb may be frozen rather than fresh, depending on availability in the area.

A typical rack of lamb is served with the trimmed bone ends protruding. In a variation known as a crown roast, the ends of the bones are capped with paper as a decorative element and the rack of lamb may be wrapped in a circle so that it resembles a crown. The origins of this dish appear to lie in England, and it continues to be popular during the holiday season and on other special occasions.

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Meat on this cut is tender, juicy, and flavorful. In addition to being roasted in an oven, rack of lamb can be prepared on the barbecue or spit as well. Glazes and sauces are used to preserve moisture while the dish cooks and to add flavor. Lamb can safely be eaten rare and is often taken out of the oven before it is completely cooked to allow the meat to cook through while resting without drying out or becoming leathery.

A simple roast rack of lamb may be made with a basic oil and herb rub. People can use a variety of sauces and marinades to prepare lamb, including Asian, Middle Eastern, and Indian inspired sauces. Popular accompaniments for this dish include roast vegetables, rice, yogurt dipping sauces, and mint sauces. The dish can be eaten cold or hot, although if lamb is going to be eaten cold, it needs to be refrigerated as soon as possible after cooking so bacteria do not have an opportunity to colonize the meat.

Fresh rack of lamb can be kept in the fridge for several days before cooking, or sealed tightly and frozen. Frozen meat will keep for six to eight months if it is packaged appropriately, although sometimes freezer burn may develop. When thawing meat, people should place the meat on a plate in the fridge, rather than thawing at room temperature, to reduce the risk of food-borne illness.

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