Serve a gourmet-inspired dish that's beautiful to look at and delicious to eat. Ask your butcher to make the crown rib roast, formed by tying two lamb rib racks together, then rub the roast with spices and bake. Serve with a side of couscous and spoon a little extra in the middle of the racks, for good measure.
2 lamb rib racks, 8 ribs each (4 1/2 to 5 lb. total; see notes)
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
About 1/2 teaspoon each salt and pepper
1/4 cup pine nuts
1 onion (8 oz.), peeled and finely chopped
2 pork Italian sausages (about 8 oz. total), casings removed
2 cups fat-skimmed chicken broth
1 cup frozen petite peas
1 cup couscous
1/2 cup each coarsely chopped parsley, fresh mint leaves (or 2 tablespoons dried mint), and fresh dill (or 2 tablespoons dried dill)
How to Make It
Rinse lamb roast, pat dry, and set on a metal rack in a shallow pan (at least 10 in. square). Mix ground cumin and 1/2 teaspoon each salt and pepper; rub onto roast, inside and out.
Bake lamb in a 450º regular or convection oven until a thermometer inserted horizontally through roast into center of thickest part reads 145º to 150º for rare, 35 to 40 minutes, or 155º for medium-rare, 40 to 45 minutes. If bone tips start to scorch, drape them with foil.
Meanwhile, in a 10- to 12-inch frying pan over medium-high heat, shake pine nuts frequently until lightly browned, about 3 minutes; pour into a small bowl.
To pan, add onion and sausages; stir frequently over high heat, breaking meat into small pieces, until lightly browned, about 10 minutes. Add broth and cover; when boiling, stir in peas and cover. When boiling again, stir in couscous, cover, and remove from heat. Let stand in a warm place 10 to 20 minutes.
As lamb roasts, in a food processor or with a knife, finely chop parsley, mint, and dill (or crumble dried herbs) and mix.
Transfer roast to a platter; keeping it warm, let rest 5 to 10 minutes. Stir herb mixture into hot couscous; fill center of roast with some of the couscous and spoon remainder around the meat. Sprinkle couscous with pine nuts. Cut lamb between ribs and serve chops with couscous. Add more salt and pepper to taste.
It's wise to order the roast a few days ahead. Have your butcher trim the fat from the lamb rib racks, trim the bone ends, cut off the backbone for easy carving between ribs, and tie racks together to make a crown roast. You can toast the pine nuts (step 3) up to 1 day ahead; cover and store at room temperature. You can also prepare the couscous (step 4), but don't add the peas; cool, cover, and chill. While the roast rests (step 6), in a microwave-safe bowl, mix peas with the cold couscous and heat in a microwave oven at full power (100%), stirring occasionally, until steaming, 3 to 4 minutes total. Mix the chopped herbs with the hot couscous and use more fresh herbs for garnish.
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