Rack of lamb and the grill have great chemistry. The intense heat of the coals produces a bold crust and melts away the meat’s abundance of fat, distributing flavour throughout while imparting a smokiness that’s the perfect complement to lamb’s rich, gamey flavour.
But the rendering fat can cause flare-ups that scorch the meat and impart sooty flavours, ruining this pricey cut. For a foolproof outcome, we trimmed the excess fat from racks of lamb and built a split fire around an aluminum pan, creating a cooler centre where the fat could safely render before we moved the lamb over direct heat to brown the exterior.
As a last step, we stood the racks up and leaned them together to brown their bottoms. Because lamb tastes so good on its own, it needed only a simple wet rub of robust herbs and a little oil brushed on during browning to enhance its flavour.
We were rewarded with rack of lamb that was pink and juicy, with a well-browned crust that contrasted nicely with the lush, ultra-tender interior.
We prefer the subtler flavour and larger size of lamb labeled “domestic” or “American,” but you may substitute lamb imported from New Zealand or Australia. Since imported racks are generally smaller, follow the shorter cooking times given in the recipe. We prefer rack of lamb cooked to medium-rare.
GRILL-ROASTED RACK OF LAMB
Start to finish: 1 hour and 30 minutes
4 teaspoons vegetable oil
4 teaspoons minced fresh rosemary
2 teaspoons minced fresh thyme
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 (1 1/2- to 1 3/4-pound) racks of lamb, fat trimmed to 1/8 to 1/4 inch and rib bones frenched
Salt and pepper
1 (13 by 9-inch) disposable aluminum roasting pan (if using charcoal)
Combine 1 tablespoon oil, rosemary, thyme, and garlic in bowl; set aside. Pat lamb dry with paper towels, rub with remaining 1 teaspoon oil, and season with salt and pepper.
‚Äî For a charcoal grill: Open bottom vent completely and place disposable pan in centre of grill. Light large chimney starter filled with charcoal briquettes (6 quarts). When top coals are partially covered with ash, pour into 2 even piles on either side of disposable pan. Set cooking grate in place, cover, and open lid vent completely. Heat grill until hot, about 5 minutes.
‚Äî For a gas grill: Turn all burners to high, cover, and heat grill until hot, about 15 minutes. Leave primary burner on high and turn off other burner(s).
Clean and oil cooking grate. Place lamb, bone side up, on cooler part of grill with meaty side of racks very close to, but not quite over, heat source. Cover and cook until meat is lightly browned, faint grill marks appear, and fat has begun to render, 8 to 10 minutes.
Flip racks bone side down and slide to hotter part of grill. Cook until well browned, 3 to 4 minutes. Brush racks with herb mixture, flip bone side up, and cook until well browned, 3 to 4 minutes. Stand racks up, leaning them against each other for support, and cook until bottom is well browned and meat registers 125 degrees (for medium-rare), 3 to 8 minutes.
Transfer lamb to carving board and let rest for 20 minutes. Cut between ribs into separate chops and serve.