Rack of Lamb with Dijon & Panko Crust

Rack of lamb is special occasion-worthy but quick and easy enough to prepare any night of the week.
Rack of Lamb with Dijon & Panko Crust
The meat turns out exceptionally flavorful, especially considering how simple the recipe is.
11/6/2023
Updated:
11/6/2023
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Rack of lamb is often thought of as a special occasion dish because of the price, but it’s actually quite quick and easy to prepare. This classic French preparation is the way I learned to cook it over 20 years ago when I was an apprentice at L’Auberge Chez Francois, and it’s still my favorite method. You sear the racks in a blazing-hot pan, brush them with Dijon mustard, coat them with seasoned bread crumbs, and then finish cooking them in the oven. The meat turns out exceptionally flavorful, especially considering how simple the recipe is.

What You’ll Need To Make Rack of Lamb with Dijon & Panko Crust

(Courtesy of Jennifer Segal)
(Courtesy of Jennifer Segal)
You’ll need two 8-rib racks of lamb for this recipe (count on about 4 ribs per person). When purchasing, look for racks that are already “frenched,” meaning the rib bones are exposed and most of the fat layer has been removed. Even if the racks are frenched, they will likely need a bit more prep to remove additional fat and silver skin. I recommend asking your butcher to do this for you, as it is the only time-consuming part of the recipe, but there are great YouTube tutorials if you have to do it yourself.

Step-by-Step Instructions

Step 1: Season the Racks

To begin, sprinkle the lamb evenly with 1 teaspoon each salt and pepper.

(Courtesy of Jennifer Segal)
(Courtesy of Jennifer Segal)
Step 2: Sear the Racks

Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a heavy cast-iron or oven-proof stainless-steel skillet over high heat. With your exhaust fan on, sear the lamb for 4 minutes on the first side, or until nicely browned. (The bones of the racks will hang over the edges of the skillet; that’s okay.)

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(Courtesy of Jennifer Segal)
(Courtesy of Jennifer Segal)

Turn the racks over and sear for 4 minutes more. Don’t worry about searing the ends; they’ll brown in the oven. (Although the lamb is eventually covered with mustard and panko, searing it first caramelizes the surface of the meat and gives it a highly flavorful crust.)

(Courtesy of Jennifer Segal)
(Courtesy of Jennifer Segal)
Step 3: Prepare the Panko Coating

Meanwhile, in a small bowl, combine the panko with the remaining teaspoon of oil, the thyme, ¼ teaspoon salt, and a few grinds of black pepper.

(Courtesy of Jennifer Segal)
(Courtesy of Jennifer Segal)

Toss until the panko is well-coated with the oil and seasonings.

(Courtesy of Jennifer Segal)
(Courtesy of Jennifer Segal)
Step 4: Coat the Racks with Dijon and Panko Mixture

Using a spoon or brush, spread the mustard all over the meat—you can do this right in the pan (after you’ve removed it from the heat), using tongs to maneuver the racks—then arrange the racks fat/meatier-side up in the skillet.

(Courtesy of Jennifer Segal)
(Courtesy of Jennifer Segal)

Sprinkle the panko mixture over the mustard coating on the top and sides of the racks (don’t worry about the bottom sides), pressing with your hands to adhere.

(Courtesy of Jennifer Segal)
(Courtesy of Jennifer Segal)
Step 5: Roast in the Oven

Slide the pan into the oven and roast for 15 to 18 minutes, or until a thermometer inserted into the center of one of the roasts registers between 135 F/57 C (medium) and 140 F/60 C (medium-well).

(If you don’t have an ovenproof skillet, transfer racks to a foil-lined baking sheet before roasting.)

(Courtesy of Jennifer Segal)
(Courtesy of Jennifer Segal)

I find that it’s hard to get an accurate read on a meat thermometer for rack of lamb, so I’d suggest using the timing guidelines given here instead of (or at least in addition to) a thermometer. The USDA recommends cooking lamb to a temperature of at least 145 F/63 C, but many people prefer it rarer. I think an internal temperature of 135 F/57 C (medium) is perfect, as the meat continues to rise several degrees while resting. If you’d prefer, cook a bit longer to meet USDA guidelines.

Step 6: Carve and Serve
Transfer the racks to a cutting board, cover with foil to keep warm, and let rest for 10 minutes. Cut into single or double chops.

Rack of Lamb with Dijon & Panko Crust

Servings: 4 Prep Time: 15 Minutes Cook Time: 25 Minutes Total Time: 40 Minutes
Ingredients
  • Two 8-rib “frenched” lamb rib racks (1½ to 2 pounds each), trimmed of fat and silver skin (see note)
  • Salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • ½ cup panko
  • ¼ teaspoon dried thyme (or ¾ teaspoon finely chopped fresh thyme)
Instructions

Preheat the oven to 400 F (205 C) and set an oven rack in the middle position.

Sprinkle the lamb racks all over with 1 teaspoon salt and 1 teaspoon of pepper.

Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a heavy ovenproof skillet (cast-iron or stainless-steel; see note) over high heat. With your exhaust fan on, sear the lamb for 4 minutes on each side, or until nicely browned. Don’t worry about searing the ends; they’ll brown in the oven. (The bones of the racks will hang over the edges of the skillet; that’s okay.)

Meanwhile, in a small bowl, combine the panko with the remaining teaspoon of oil, the thyme, ¼ teaspoon salt, and a few grinds of black pepper. Toss until the panko is well coated with the oil and seasonings.

Using a spoon or brush, spread the mustard all over the meat—you can do this right in the pan (after you’ve removed it from the heat), using tongs to maneuver the racks—then arrange the racks fat/meatier-side up in the skillet. Sprinkle the panko mixture over the mustard coating on the top and sides of the racks (don’t worry about the bottom sides), pressing with your hands to adhere.

Slide the pan into the oven and roast for 15 to 18 minutes, or until a thermometer inserted into the center of one of the roasts registers between 135 F/57 C (medium) and 140 F/60 C (medium-well). Keep in mind that these temperatures account for the fact that the temperature will continue to rise several degrees while the meat rests. Transfer the racks to a cutting board, cover with foil to keep warm, and let rest for 10 minutes. Cut into single or double chops.

Note: The only time-consuming part of the recipe trimming the fat and silver skin off the racks. I recommend asking your butcher to do this for you, but if you have to do it yourself, this is a good tutorial.

Note: If you don’t have an ovenproof skillet, transfer the racks to a foil-lined baking sheet before roasting.

Note: I find that it’s hard to get an accurate read on a meat thermometer for rack of lamb, so I’d suggest using the timing guidelines given here instead of (or at least in addition to) a thermometer. The USDA recommends cooking lamb to a temperature of at least 145 F/63 C, but many people prefer it rarer. I think an internal temperature of 135 F/57 C (medium) is perfect, as the meat continues to rise several degrees while resting. If you'd prefer, cook a bit longer to meet USDA guidelines.

Nutrition Information

Per serving (4 servings)

Calories: 1,577, Fat: 145 g, Saturated fat: 61 g, Carbohydrates: 6 g Sugar: 0 g, Fiber: 1 g, Protein: 59 g, Sodium: 977 mg, Cholesterol: 302 mg
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Jennifer is a classically trained chef, Cookbook author, and busy mom. She became interested in cooking in college while studying abroad in France and living with a French family. She is a graduate of L’Academie de Cuisine. Visit OnceUponaChef.com.
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