Herbed Rack of Lamb with Port Fig Sauce

Lamb is a wonderful meat that lends itself to many beautiful dishes, but a common theme across all of them is to keep it simple so that the delicious, gamey flavor of lamb can shine through. With the spring season comes the new lamb season, and so I have prepared a number of lamb dishes. Today’s dinner: an herbed rack of lamb with a sauce composed of a port reduction and dried figs.

Herbed Rack of Lamb with Port Fig Sauce

This was simply delicious. The ideal way to eat lamb is medium rare so that it is juicy, tender, and just bursting with a distinct flavor. One of my favorite preparations of rack of lamb is herb encrusted, but one thing that never quite sat right with me was the bread-crumby texture of the herb crust–it always bothered me, because when you go to eat it or cut the rack, so much of it crumbles off and is lost! So I tried to apply some of the same flavors and ideas, but just not the full on, classical herb crust. So after browning the rack, I pressed it in some diced herbs so that it would still have those herby, earthy flavors clinging to it, but in a lighter way. I then roasted the rack and prepared a sauce from the juices, port, and dried figs for a really rich sauce. All combined, this was a delight to eat and almost shockingly quick and easy to prepare. The only disappointing part of this dish was that I couldn’t get my hands on a whole rack of lamb. However, since I had my heart set on a rack of lamb for dinner, I had to buy it already partially chopped (e.g. in 2 or 3 rib chunks), but if you have the option, you should most definitely get a whole rack. But hey, you make do and adjust to what’s available, right?

  • 8-10 rib rack of lamb
  • olive oil
  • salt
  • pepper
  • few sprigs of thyme
  • 1-2 sprigs rosemary
  • handful of basil leaves
  • 8 dried mission figs
  • 1/2 cup port
  • 1/2 cup chicken stock
  • 1 tsp balsamic vinegar

First, for both appearances and for helping the fat to render out, score the fatty side of the rack with diamonds, cutting only deep enough to puncture the fat but not the flesh. This will give your final plating extra sexy points, and why would you ever opt to have fewer sexy points? Also, preheat the oven to 400°F.

Rack of lamb

Now, lightly coat the rack with olive oil (since it is an awkward shape to deal with in the pan, oiling it up front is easier), rub with salt and pepper to taste, and brown it (fatty side first) in a hot, lightly oiled pan for roughly 2-5 minutes. Do you best to brown all sides, but the inner side obviously might pose a challenge, so don’t go nuts trying to make that work if you can’t. Once you’re done browning, finish the rack by standing it up in the pan so that it is standing vertically. Aside from browning the bottom, this will also allow any stray juices to run into the pan (this is good) and it will let things cool off a bit for your handling. Let this stand for a minute or two.

Browned, herbed, and ready for roasting

When done browning, assuming it is cool enough to handle (be careful!), grab the rack and press it (fatty side down) into the diced herbs. Given the oiliness, a good amount of the herb mixture should stick right the to the lamb perfectly. If there are leftover herbs, feel free to press them on the backside or where ever, but don’t worry about it.

At this point, set the lamb in the oven. I chose to lay the rack in a roasting pan (on a rack with my side of potatoes underneath), but if you’d rather use a pan (e.g. cast iron), do whatever works for you. Whatever the case, set a timer for 10 minutes–this cut of lamb cooks quickly and you do not want to risk overcooking it. Medium-rare is most definitely the way to go.

Herbs and dried figs

While the lamb is roasting, its sauce-making time. If the lamb is in a roasting pan, your stovetop already has the perfect pan ready for the job–use the one you browned the lamb in! It has the juices, the brown bits, and the heat all ready to go.

Get the sauce simmering

Given the short amount of time you have, obviously, the sauce is pretty simple to put together. Add the diced figs, port, stock, and balsamic to the pan, heat to a boil, and reduce on medium/medium-high heat for 5-10 minutes until it achieves a desirable consistency. Check in on the lamb periodically to ensure it doesn’t overcook.

When the lamb is done, take it out of the oven, carve the rack so as to separate each rib, and fan it out on your place, drizzling some sauce and figs as you see fit. I served with some small potatoes of some indeterminate name. 😉

Enjoy!

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27 Responses to “Herbed Rack of Lamb with Port Fig Sauce”

  1. Peter Says:

    Pete, you’re killing me…I’m holding of on lamb until Easter. You’re making it very hard…this plate screams Greek with the ingredients.

  2. Peter Says:

    Sorry Mike…brainfart…stroke Pete, insert Mike! lol

  3. noble pig Says:

    Wow, that sauce looks so unbelievable. I adore figs when made in a sauce. Beautiful presentation.

  4. dp Says:

    I love lamb! I prefer it to beef, actually. And it always tastes wonderful with a sweet component like figs or prunes, even raisins.

  5. Bellini Valli Says:

    I love the herb crust on this Mike. Spring is here:D

  6. pam Says:

    Mike, I gave you an E for Excellent award! I love your blog!

  7. White On Rice Couple Says:

    The sauce alone sounds fabulous and so versatile with other dishes! We had a great lamb dish last week in when we were in Portland and it’s still been on our mind ever since. Your lamb is another reminder that we need to get our hands on some again and start cooking!

  8. Ginny Says:

    Looks absolutely amazing! can i come over for dinner?

  9. Lydia (The Perfect Pantry) Says:

    This would be such an elegant dish for a dinner party! I love fig sauce — I’ve been making a version of it with meatloaf for a couple of years.

  10. Deb Says:

    First the duck, now the lamb! Lamb is one of my top choices for spring! I usually just grill mine over charcoal with lots of rosemary wrapped around them. I must try the sauce! And of course a nice bottle of Cabernet and Zinfandel to accompany…heaven.

  11. RecipeGirl Says:

    Lamb is my ABSOLUTE favorite of all meats. We made a rack earlier this week, which you’ll see on my blog sometime next week. The fig sauce sounds great!

  12. Sarah Says:

    Oooh, this looks lovely…nice photos Mike!

    I’ve tagged you for a little game, Six Word Memoir. If you feel like playing, check out my post:

    http://sarah-cooking.blogspot.com/2008/04/six-word-memoir.html

  13. kittie Says:

    Mmmmmm….! Lamb is my all time favourite meat – and this sauce looks beautiful.
    I can’t wait until I run down my store cupboard so I can start food shopping again!

  14. Nina Says:

    Lamb done to perfection. A good looking plate of food.Well done.

  15. Sandie (Inn Cuisine) Says:

    I’ve been looking for new recipes for preparing rack of lamb – I love serving it to guests as most people don’t bother to cook it at home for themselves and are always surprised and impressed when it’s featured at dinner.

    A week (or so) before Easter, Caroline at Whipped (the blog,) shared a wonderful recipe for an herb & olive encrusted rack of lamb, and it is very good. But I will definitely try this version as well, as I like to keep things fresh and exciting. The fig sauce sounds delectable!

  16. Shayne Says:

    I have only done a whole rack of lamb once and that was for Thanksgiving last year. because the oven held a turkey I did it on the grill and it was wonderful.

    This looks like it is wonderful too and it is something I would try to make myself.

  17. Kevin Says:

    That lamb looks good and the fig sauce sounds really tasty! I have really been enjoying lamb recently.

  18. aforkfulofspaghetti Says:

    Mmmm… my guess is that the fig sauce really makes it. Must give that one a try.

  19. Helen Says:

    oooh, I love figs! What a great way to use them.

  20. grace Says:

    if i ever convince myself that it’s okay for me to eat a baby sheep, i promise to give this a go! :)

  21. We Are Never Full Says:

    sexy points… HA! funny. this lamb looks divine. Medium-rare is the way to go (unless of course you’re using tougher cuts of it). Rack of lamb is so expensive we can never afford it!! Which is why I would like a bite. We do eat lots of other cuts of lamb like shoulder blade which we love and it’s super-cheap. This lamb looks springy with the herbs!

  22. Zlamushka Says:

    MIkeyyyy! I absolutely adore lamb. What a gorgeous combo, figs and porto, I am all excited.
    I like my meat raw….

  23. Susan at Sticky,Gooey,Creamy,Chewy Says:

    Another meat masterpiece! This lamb looks so good, I could cry! I haven’t made lamb in forever. Are you sure my husband didn’t pay you to post this?

  24. Jeff Says:

    Lamb is a good thing and nice use of the figs especially with pork. Figs and port go together like lamb and tuna fish.

  25. katie Says:

    That’s one beautiful rack!
    And new potatoes? Isn’t spring wonderful…

  26. Braised Lamb Shank with Sherry Blackberry Sauce from Mike's Table Says:

    […] Herbed Rack of Lamb with Port Fig Sauce […]

  27. FlaNBoyant Eats Says:

    Mike, you make a lot of my fave foods! i really wish I had more time to cook like this. And, cooking for self always sucks! so, i’m always having to exercise shortcuts ! no fun :(

    love love your lamb dishes.

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