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Grilled rack of lamb with walnut-mint pesto

May 21, 2008

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Serves 6

Most cooks sear lamb first, then transfer it to the oven to finish cooking. You can replicate this sear-roast process on the grill by moving the lamb from the hot part to a cooler part, then finishing with the cover on. It's a good idea to use an instant-read thermometer to check the doneness; the meat is expensive, so you want to cook it just right.

PESTO

1 1/2 cups fresh mint leaves
2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
1/2 cup chopped toasted walnuts
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan
1/4 cup olive oil
1. In a food processor, combine the mint, thyme, walnuts, and Parmesan.

2. Add the oil in a thin, steady stream until the mixture forms a thick paste. Refrigerate.

LAMB

3 racks of lamb (8 ribs each), bones and meat trimmed of most fat
2 teaspoons salt, or to taste
1/2 teaspoon pepper, or to taste
1/4 cup chopped fresh mint
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1. One day ahead (or at least 1 hour in advance), sprinkle the lamb with 2 teaspoons salt and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper. Sprinkle the meat with mint, oil, mustard, thyme, and garlic. Rub them all over the lamb.

2. Prepare a two-zone fire: On the gas grill, heat one of the burners to medium-high and the other two to medium-low; on a charcoal fire, put most of the coals on one side. Let the lamb sit out at room temperature while the grill heats.

3. Set the lamb on the grill fat side down and cook for 2 minutes. Move to the cooler part of the fire if it starts to burn. Turn and cook ribs side down for 2 minutes. Set the racks upright and cook for 1 minute.

4. Transfer the lamb to the cooler zone. Using two small spoons, coat the meat side with the pesto. Cover the grill. (Open the vent on the charcoal fire.) Cook 4 to 10 minutes longer or until the thickest part of the chops registers 120 to 125 degrees (for medium rare) on an instant-read thermometer.

5. Let the lamb rest on a cutting board for 5 minutes; cut into 2-bone chops. Tony Rosenfeld