So traditional it is almost a cliché on restaurant menus, rack of lamb deserves its lofty status for one reason: it is delicious. Yet it is also very easy to prepare at home. Lowering the temperature and cooking it more slowly than is traditional results in juicy, succulent meat. If you prefer well-done meat, select a less expensive cut.
The structure and complexity of a Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon or Bordeaux complement the assertive flavors of this dish; recommended producers include Hartwell, Harlan and Caymus in Napa, and Châteaux Sociando-Mallet, Léoville-Barton and Vieux Château Certan in Bordeaux.
1 rack of lamb, trimmed and frenched
Freshly ground black pepper
1 cup dry red wine
1 fresh thyme sprig, plus additional sprigs, for garnish
1 small rosemary sprig, plus additional sprigs, for garnish
1 cup meat stock (lamb, beef, or duck)
2 tablespoons butter, chilled
Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F.
Season the rack of lamb all over with salt and pepper. Set a small roasting rack over a heavy pan, set the lamb on the rack, and place on the middle rack of the oven. Cook for 30 to 40 minutes, until the temperature in the center of the middle rib reaches 125 degrees F. for rare, 130 degrees F. for medium-rare, or 140 degrees F. for medium. Transfer the roasting rack to a work surface and cover loosely with foil.
Set the roasting pan over a high flame on top of the stove, add the wine and herbs, and cook, stirring to loosen any bits of meat, until the wine is reduced to about 3 tablespoons. Add the meat stock and cook until rich and thick. Taste the sauce and season with salt and pepper. Remove the sauce from the heat and discard the herb sprigs.
Warm dinner plates. Whisk half the butter into the sauce and when it is completely incorporated, whisk in the remaining butter. Taste and correct the seasoning. Cover the pan and set aside briefly. Carve the rack of lamb between the rib bones. Spoon pools of sauce in the center of each warm plate, set the lamb on top, garnish with herb sprigs, and serve immediately.