We’ve partnered with Whole Foods Market to bring you a dinner party-worthy recipe for roasted rack of lamb cooked alongside root vegetables and served with a vibrant honey orange sauce. Jump to recipe.
After a summer of casual outdoor dining, I’m eager to embrace the small formalities of fall entertaining. Crisp tablecloths, linen napkins, and the ring of stemware all sound pretty good right now. And while I like to serve my guests memorable food made with care, I like to spend time with them too. In the interest of having it all, I’ve been working on recipes that come together simply while also delivering a bit of wow factor. This celebratory roasted rack of lamb is made with tender Icelandic lamb and is wonderful as the centerpiece of a fall dinner party or as an alternative (or addition) to the Thanksgiving turkey.
Pasture-raised Icelandic lamb, exclusively available in the US at Whole Foods Market through late November, is exceptionally mild, so even those normally averse to lamb will be won over. Icelandic lamb is raised traditionally in highland pastures and is grazed on sedge, willow berries, and wildflowers. Because of its mild flavor, Icelandic lamb is more versatile than other varieties, complementing a wide range of flavors – feel free to experiment! If you’d rather stick closely to this roasted rack of lamb recipe, you’ll find everything you need at your local Whole Foods Market. (I do recommend calling ahead to make sure your local store has the lamb in stock.)
Most elements of this recipe can be readied ahead of time – the spice rub needs time to penetrate the lamb (overnight is best), and the vegetables and other elements can easily be prepped a day ahead and kept in the fridge. The night of, simply roast the lamb and vegetables together and use the pan drippings to create a flavorful orange and white wine sauce.
A dinner party-worthy recipe for roasted rack of lamb that's cooked alongside root vegetables and served with a vibrant honey orange pan sauce.
- 2 racks Icelandic lamb (4 - 5 pounds each)
- 1 teaspoon cumin seed
- 2 cloves garlic , peeled and minced
- 3 teaspoons sea salt
- 1 tablespoon finely grated lemon zest
- 1 tablespoon finely grated orange zest
- 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
- 1 bunch young carrots with greens attached , scrubbed with greens trimmed to 1-inch, and halved lenghtwise
- 3 small turnips or rutabagas , peeled, core trimmed, and cut into 1/2-inch thick half moons
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- sea salt
- fresh ground pepper
- 2 shallots , peeled and minced
- extra virgin olive oil as needed
- 1 - 2 oranges
- 1 cup dry white wine , divided
- 2 tablespoons honey
- fresh thyme sprigs , as a garnish
- pomegranate arils , as a garnish
At least 3 hours ahead of time, but preferably the night before, prep the spice rub. With a mortar and pestle or small food processor, grind cumin seed into a powder. Add garlic and sea salt, and mash into a paste. Fold in citrus zests and thyme leaves. (Reserve juice of orange used for zesting.) Rub both racks of lamb all over with spice mixture. Cover and refrigerate for at least 3 hours or preferably overnight.
An hour before roasting, set lamb out to come to room temperature.
A half hour before cook time, preheat oven to 450 degrees F.
To prep the sauce, use a peeler to remove 4 (4-inch) long strips of zest from an orange. Cut into thin slivers. Next, squeeze 1 cup of orange juice. Set aside.
Next, heat a wide, deep-sided skillet over medium-high heat. One at a time, sear both racks of lamb on all sides, about 1 minute per side. Remove pan from heat and set aside.
Toss vegetables with a tablespoon of olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt and pepper. Arrange on bottom of roasting pan, set roasting rack in place and place seared racks of lamb on top with the bone side facing down. Roast 12 - 17 minutes, or until the internal temperature reaches 130 (for rare) or 135 (for medium-rare).
Rest lamb on cutting board – the temperature of the meat will continue to rise as lamb rests. Remove roasting rack, turn vegetables, and slide back into the oven. Cook vegetables another 10 minutes, or until tender, while lamb rests.
While lamb rests, set the same skillet used earlier to sear lamb over medium heat. Add shallots and a drizzle of olive oil (enough to make 2 tablespoons fat – there should be some accumulated fat from searing the lamb), and cook until shallots are translucent and a deep golden brown, about 5 minutes. Add 3/4 cup wine, orange juice, 2 tablespoons zest slivers (reserve remaining zest for a garnish), and honey. Cook, stirring frequently, as sauce bubbles rapidly and thickens considerably, eventually turning a deep golden brown, about 15 minutes. Once sauce has reduced and thickened to a saucy consistency, turn heat to low. If needed, adding a little at a time, add up to another 1/4 cup wine to thin sauce.
To carve lamb rack into chops, set rack upright with rib bones facing up. Slide a sharp knife between each of the rib bones. Arrange roasted vegetables and lamb chops on a large warmed platter. Garnish with sprigs of thyme, reserved orange zest, and pomegranate arils. Serve with orange sauce.