Classic French-style (Herb Roasted) Rack of Lamb

Main Dishes, Recipes

This year, our family decided to save a turkey and go a nontraditional but still festive route for our Thanksgiving meal. Everyone gathered in our tiny, humble apartment and the NomCats prepared the dinner for six. A highlight of the dinner was the classic French style racks of lamb served over com do (Vietnamese tomato red rice) — the epitome of the beautiful fusion of French-Vietnamese cuisine.

NomCat tip for the ingredients:

The Lamb: We bought ours from Costco. They are sold as full racks, vacuum-sealed, trimmed, and ready to go – all for less than $20 a rack of 8 chops. If you’re looking to avoid the holiday rush, these packages freeze well and defrost just in time if you remember to move them to the refrigerator one full day in advance. (Or if you have trouble with clearing out your freezer like we do, the packages are well-marked and dated. We recently cooked a rack after months in the freezer, and it was still tender and delicious!)

Without further ado, here’s our recipe for pulling off one of these beauties:

Beautiful, isn’t it? (And yes, we like our lamb very rare.)

Ingredients:

1 full rack of lamb (8 chops)

2 teaspoons dried rosemary

1 teaspoon dried thyme

2 cloves minced garlic (or 1 teaspoon garlic paste)

Salt & pepper to taste (we used Himalayan pink salt, which adds crunch with a more delicate saltiness)

Olive oil (about 2 tablespoons or so)

Let the lamb sit out on the counter to bring it closer to room temperature. If it is still cold, it will be very difficult to cook evenly. (Thanks for this tip, Simply Recipes!) Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. If you are making the com do to accompany the lamb, you’ll want to start the pot of rice now. In a small bowl, mix together the herbs, garlic, salt, pepper, and olive oil to form a marinade-like paste. Liberally spread this paste over the rack, focusing on the meaty portions (*Note: you can do this in advance and let it sit in the refrigerator overnight to marinate).

All herbed up and ready to go!

Place fat side up (so the bones will make it look like a dome) on either a foil-wrapped baking sheet or in a Pyrex baking dish. Score the fat and then put it in the oven for 7 minutes. You can take this opportunity to work on any side dishes.

After the time has elapsed, turn the heat down to 300 degrees and continue cooking. The time will depend on how large the rack is (the ones we get from Costco are consistently 1.5 pounds each) and how rare you like your lamb. We like ours rare and bloody, so the initial 7 minutes plus another 7-10 was perfect.

Hot out of the oven!

For our family dinner, we took the racks out at the rare point, carved into single chops, and pan seared the rest to temperature for those who preferred it medium-rare or well done. Be sure to let the meat rest a bit before slicing. Otherwise you’ll lose all of the wonderful juices!

Searing up some chops for the med-rare and well-done folk.

We like to serve 2-3 chops per person, crisscrossed over a mound of the com do or alongside roasted potatoes, haricot verts (green beans), grilled asparagus… whatever your stomach desires!

Adapted from this recipe.

Tried this recipe yourself? Let us know how it goes! Comment here or send us a message. We’d love to hear from you :)

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A Docked “Galley” in Morro Bay

Central Coast, Food Adventures

In a recent weekend trip to Morro Bay, we were trying to find a relatively nice sit-down restaurant to dine on Saturday evening. Many of the oceanfront restaurants seemed to cater to tourists and a brief glance of their menus didn’t spark any interest.

After doing a brief search on Yelp!, we decided to check out the menu at The Galley Seafood Grill & Bar and a place to stay at the adjoining inn. Although the inn had booked out along with every inn on that street, the manager recommended we make reservations in advance for The Galley.

The Galley Car

The host, John, was very friendly and took our reservations for 8:30pm. After a few hours of walking around and realizing that Morro Bay is a small retirement ocean-side town that, after the peak summer season, had very little to do, we decided to arrive at The Galley a full hour early. John, who had seen us hovering around over the menu outside deciding in advance what we wanted to order, came out and offered to seat us earlier if other parties had not arrived by 8:15pm. It was difficult not to notice how busy they were despite being in the off-season. We even noticed John turning away other parties due to the number of reservations.

We came back later and by this point, both he and another staff member had recognized us and immediately showed us to our table. We were seated in a corner section in the dimly lit Galley which was frequented by an older and local crowd.

Let’s start with the table bread. Alice and I are both suckers for warm ciabatta and look what they had…mini ciabatta loaves, served with homemade whipped herbed butter.

Mini Ciabatta Loaf

We decided to splurge, ordering up a half dozen oysters that, according to our server Jennifer, came from British Columbia. These things were ginormous, a lot larger than the Fanny Bay varieties served at seafood restaurants in Santa Monica and Venice during happy hour. They were sizable and very briny, delicious.

Oysters On The Half Shell

Alice knew exactly what she wanted for her entree, the Pan Seared Scallops, a Galley specialty. The scallops were moist and perfectly cooked — a beautiful golden sear on the outside, nice and opaque on the inside. The garlic mashed potatoes, made with Yukon Golds, was flavorful and even better with the pan jus drizzled on the plate. The assortment of steamed vegetables were well cooked and nothing was soggy. Bringing a bit of autumn into the kitchen, the “garnish” was a slice of steamed kabocha, wonderfully sweet and starchy.

Pan Seared Scallops

Torn between the Blackened Local Snapper, Pan Seared Scallops, and Rack of Lamb, I asked Jennifer for her recommendation but she made a simple suggestion: get what you crave. Rack of Lamb, rare, was the final verdict. I had to ask her if they would be able to do that because some restaurants refuse to serve lamb rare in fear of diners getting sick, but Jennifer seemed confident that their quality was high enough to serve it however I wanted.

The lamb was amazing, very tender on the inside and seared to a slight crisp on the outside. Again, a very sizable portion with 4 double-ribs. I wasn’t a huge fan of the Kalamata tapenade but that is a personal preference. The garlic mashed potatoes, tucked under the rack of lamb, were a big hit as well but I wish they had given a larger scoop.

Rack of Lamb – Rare

After Alice and I polished off our plates, we finished up with the Grand Marnier Crème Brûlée. I amused myself for the longest time saying the name while waiting for our dessert, it just rhymed so well! (Try saying it out loud, noting that Marnier is pronounced like marn-yay, not mar-nee-er.) I have to say this crème brûlée marginally overtook the Vanilla Bean Crème Brûlée we had at Opal in Santa Barbara, which, for its simplicity, was very high in quality. However, the Grand Marnier added an extra citrusy zing that was different from just vanilla beans. Five stars for sure.

Grand Marnier Crème Brûlée

Overall it was a great experience with phenomenal service through the whole night, even before we were seated. The food was excellent and the staff extremely accommodating.  Shout out to John for his amazingness of working to getting us seated earlier than expected and Jennifer for being so attentive to our needs and excellent recommendations. We will definitely be back if we find ourselves in Morro Bay again.

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Check out The Galley: www.galleymorrobay.com/

899 Embarcadero
Morro Bay, CA 93442

See their Yelp reviews here.