What Is Frenched Rack of Lamb?
An elegant looking frenched rack of lamb makes any night of the week feel like a special occasion. With this easy, surefire technique, you’ll have dinner ready in a flash.
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Asking for frenched lamb at the meat counter doesn’t mean you have to adopt a Parisian accent. This cut of meat simply means that the end of the bone was cleaned of any fat and sinew, which makes for a nice presentation when grilled or roasted whole.
Here’s everything you need to know about a frenched rack of lamb, including the best way to cook and serve it for an elegant dinner.
What Is a Frenched Rack of Lamb?
“Frenching” a cut of meat—a rib or a chop—means removing the fat, sinew and meat from the slender end of the bone before cooking, leaving it bare. Any type of meat that has ribs can be frenched, though the technique is most often used with lamb, pork and beef.
You’ll see it in rib roasts as well as individual chops—most impressively in a tomahawk steak, which is a ribeye with the bone intact; the exposed bone gives the cut the distinctive look that justifies its name. Meat trimmings may also be used in stock, soup or other preparations.
Why French a Rack of Lamb?
Why do it? For one simple reason: appearance. Frenched (aka french-trimmed) meat has a cleaner look and makes more elegant presentations possible. A rack of lamb may be brought to the table with the chops standing on their sides, bones crossed in the center like a woven basket. A crown roast of pork is usually arrayed in a circle, the center filled with a savory dressing.
In previous eras, the bone ends would be covered with little frilled paper bonnets called “chop frills,” which date back to the 1800s. It’s a less popular look now, but some butchers will still supply them on request, or you can find them in kitchen supply stores.
While it might seem a waste to cut away meat—especially from a small cut like a lamb chop—in reality, little is lost. The small bit of edible meat (as opposed to fat or gristle) at the slender end of the bone tends to overcook and burn before the rest of the chop is done, so the sacrifice is small.
How to Cook a Frenched Rack of Lamb
To make things super easy, buy a frenched rack of lamb online, from a local butcher shop or from the grocery store.
If you choose to do your own frenching, start with a full rack of lamb. Place it bone-side down on a cutting board with the meaty eye of the rack secured beneath your nondominant hand. Using a sharp knife and working perpendicular to the bones, make a long cut through the fat layer about 2 inches from the ends of the bones. Angle the knife into the cut and slide it toward the ends of the bones, removing the fat layer. With a small knife, cut away the meat between the bones.
Scrape the exposed bones free of any fat or sinew, making sure they’re absolutely clean; anything left behind will burn during cooking. When scraping the bones, use the back of your knife to avoid dulling your blade.
Use a frenched rack of lamb when making our Herb-Crusted Rack of Lamb with Mushroom Sauce. Simply season the meat, brown in a skillet, and cover with mustard and panko breadcrumbs before roasting. A trimmed rack is also perfect for outdoor cooking, like this Grilled Rack of Lamb with Mint Jelly. Or, try these other rack of lamb ideas.
A frenched rack of lamb looks impressive and elegant. It makes quite a statement on the dinner table, whether it’s for a special occasion or just another Tuesday. To make it a full meal, consider adding a side salad or other quick and easy side dishes.