When I first made this dish, I was apprehensive. I had only ever eaten rack of lamb at restaurants and considered it ‘fancy fare’ for the top chefs to make. Who was I kidding? It’s so easy to make and quite filling, even though it doesn’t look like a lot of meat when compared to burgers, ground meat or even stews.
I decided to continue on the theme of working with dates and create a date puree to act as a thick sauce, much like a BBQ sauce would be added to meat on the grill, although I’ve made this rack of lamb on the stove top. I like it for an intimate Iftar dinner for 2-4, served with rice, couscous or pappardelle pasta.
The spices I used are typically Moroccan (i.e. cumin, cinnamon, ginger, cardamom, etc.) just because that’s what I’ve been craving, but you could swap out some of your own that you think would go well with the deep and sweet flavor and creamy thick texture of Medjool dates.
- ¼ cup Medjool date puree (alternatively, 1 cup pitted and chopped Medjool dates)
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 ¼ pound rack of lamb
- 2 tablespoons onion, minced
- 2 teaspoons fresh ginger, minced
- 1 clove garlic, crushed and chopped
- ½ teaspoon salt, or to taste
- ¼ teaspoon turmeric
- ½ teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 1 teaspoon cardamom pods
- A pinch of saffron in 1 cup water
- Ingredients for the Date Puree (optional)
- 25 Medjool dates
- If preparing your own date puree, do this ahead of time as it must go into the pan as the lamb is searing in a pan over the stove top.
- To make your own date puree, remove the pit from the dates and add them to a pan of boiling water that covers the dates completely. Let boil on medium-high heat for 40 minutes, or until the mixture has thickened and you see only about 1-2 tablespoons of liquid at the bottom of the pan. Use a food mill to completely grind the skins into the mixture. Set aside or chill until ready to use. Lasts about 7-10 days in the refrigerator.
- To prepare the lamb, preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Make sure the lamb is completely dry of any liquids before cooking. Gently heat the olive oil in a large oven-safe saute pan. Add the rack of lamb, fat side down and increase the heat to medium-high. Sear the meat on one side until it has browned, about 3-4 minutes. Turn the meat over and repeat. Once it has browned on the other side, add the onion, ginger and garlic to the pan. Use a wooden spoon to move the ingredients around so they don’t burn. Add the salt and spices to the pan, too. To a cup of warm water, add the saffron. The water should quickly turn to a golden yellow color. Add this liquid with the saffron threads to the pan.
- Give the pan a whirl to make sure all the ingredients are evenly spread out. Cover and place the pan in the heated oven. Roast for 40 minutes, removing the cover for the last 5-7 minutes. Once finished, remove the pan from the heat and cover again for 10 minutes before cutting so that it retains all of its juices. To serve, cut each piece vertically from each of the bones in the rack.