Grilled Rack of Spring Lamb

Carré di Abbacchio alla Griglia

As a boy, I was aware that Mom was a good cook. I’d been to enough of my friends’ homes for dinner to know that few shared Mom’s skill in the kitchen. Judging by their response, my friends came to the same conclusion when they stayed for dinner at our home. In fact, a Mom called mine one evening asking how she prepared spinach. To her surprise, upon returning home after dinner with us, my friend couldn’t stop raving about the spinach, something he refused to eat at his own home. Apparently, she had only served her family canned spinach. Over the phone, Mom gave her instructions for sautéing fresh spinach in garlic-flavored olive oil. Decades before Jamie Oliver, Mom was changing how America ate, one dinner table at a time. Incidentally, to this day, I’ve never eaten canned spinach, no matter what Popeye said or did.

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Knowing that Mom was a good cook was one thing, realizing the authenticity of her cooking was something else. During my first trip to Florence, I followed a tour book’s suggestion and dined at a family owned restaurant. Just as the book described, we were greeted by the owner/chef, taken to our table, and then he disappeared, returning a few minutes later with menus and a list of the specials. In the kitchen, just as the book stated, Mamma could be seen helping to get the orders out to the diners. I followed our host’s suggestion and ordered lamb chops. A few minutes later, I glanced into the kitchen and there was Mamma, just beyond the restaurant’s back door, grilling my chops. When I was served, I was surprised to learn that they tasted exactly — not similarly but exactly — as if my own Mom had prepared them. That was the day I realized just how authentically Italian Mom and Zia cooked. That was quite a souvenir to bring back home.

Although a recipe is listed below, today’s post is more about the method used than anything else. This was how all of our chops and steaks were prepared, no matter who manned the barbecue. This is not an exact science nor will it ever be. The only difference in method when cooking the various meats is that a little lemon juice might be added when cooking lamb. Otherwise, a simple combination of olive oil, garlic, rosemary, salt, and pepper are used to marinate the meats. It really is that simple but don’t take my word for it. Karen has shared her own flavorful version of this simple recipe for grilled lamb in her wonderful blog, Back Road Journal.

As for today’s lamb, a couple of days after Easter, I was pleasantly surprised to see 2 small racks (a 3 rib & a 4 rib) of Spring lamb in the meat display. I asked the butcher about them and learned that they have been trimmed to  fulfill special orders for the holiday. I bought them — at half price! — and stored them in the freezer, bringing them with me when I last visited Michigan. Believe me, after every future holiday I will be sure to check every meat counter within reason, looking for a similar deal.

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Grilled Rack of Spring Lamb Recipe

Ingredients

  • 2 portions of Spring rack of lamb, 7 ribs in total, french cut
  • 1 to 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • rosemary, roughly chopped
  • olive oil
  • 1 to 2 tbsp fresh lemon juice (optional)
  • salt and pepper
  • parsley for garnish (optional)

Directions

  1.  A couple of hours before you are to roast the lamb, remove it from the refrigerator and place on a pie plate or similar dish.
  2. Season with garlic, rosemary, salt, and pepper before sprinkling with optional lemon juice and enough olive oil to lightly coat everything. The lamb is already dead. No need to drown it in oil.
  3. Set aside to marinate until you’re ready to cook. If your kitchen is warm, place the rack in the fridge until 30 minutes before you intend to cook it.
  4. Pre-heat your barbecue on high. Wrap the chop tips with aluminum foil, something I forgot to do.
  5. Place the rack directly over the heat and sear the meat for a couple of minutes before moving it to an area on the grill away from the heat.
  6. Using an instant read thermometer, we pulled the racks off of the grill when the temperature reached 120˚ F (49 C).
  7. While the racks rested, covered, I grilled the asparagus while Zia dressed the salad.
  8. The racks were served, garnished with a bit of parsley (optional).

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Notes

The olive oil marinade is not one that is left on the meat overnight. At most, the meat was left to marinate for 3 hours, with 1 to 2 hours the norm.

As you can see in the photo, the rosemary wasn’t chopped before being used.  Most, if not all, will be lost during grilling. The same is true for the garlic, so, don’t be overly concerned with chopping/dicing everything evenly.

The racks could just as easily be broiled if a barbecue or grill pan is not available. As always, do not forget about them lest your return to find Spring rack of lamb flambé.

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It’s déjà vu all over again …

Cherries JammedI mentioned last week that tart cherries are now in season. In my opinion, these cherries make the best pies, muffins, and jams. Yes, it can be a bit tedious pitting the little red devils but the end result certainly makes it all worthwhile. If you’re interested, you can see my recipe for making this delicious jam by clicking HERE.

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Coming soon to a monitor near you …

Fried Zucchini Blossoms 

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179 thoughts on “Grilled Rack of Spring Lamb

  1. Love it, John! I’m not surprised about the authenticity of the Bartolini cooking you discovered in Italy, as the recipes you post on your blog speak for themselves in that respect (with sometimes a little Marche thrown into a recipe from another region, but that’s also very Italian). I agree on not eating canned spinach. I even mostly stay away from frozen. I envy having a mom who can cook — there are lots of veggies I only liked to eat when I started preparing them myself (sorry mom). Your racks of lamb look great — perfect medium rare. I cook them almost just like that. Rosemary, garlic, olive oil and lemon juice are the ingredients used traditionally used in Lazio for abbacchio scottadito. You could also pan fry them first (start on the fat side) and finish them in a 300/150 oven. Rack of lamb is one of my favorite meats, so it’s a shame it’s becoming so expensive around here. Good for you on finding that bargain!

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    • Thanks, Stefan. That was a very nice comment to leave and I very much appreciate it.
      I guess I dated myself by mentioning canned spinach. Frozen foods were just becoming popular when I was a young boy. Before that, it was either canned or fresh. We ate fresh but many did not. I’ve cooked lamb as you mentioned and probably would have that afternoon at Zia’s if it hadn’t been such a nice day, following a week of cold & wet weather. Firing up the grill was our way of celebrating the lone nice day of my visit. The only time I buy a rack of lamb is when entertaining, so, finding a small partial rack is perfect for me. When I saw he had 2 and at half-price, I was amazed. I am going to be a regular customer at every butcher in my area the day following every holiday. Maybe lightning will strike twice. 🙂

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  2. “The lamb is already dead. No need to drown it in oil” And things like this John keeps making me come back to your blog haha 🙂 Totally agree with the simplicity of your marinade. Straight forward, doesn’t confuse the palate but rather accentuate the meat taste I’m sure. Lamb although delicate in flavor has its very distinct flavor which is lovely. Really nice post! I love lamb.

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  3. Great reading. Great eating. Definitely would lick the platter clean. Enjoyed the fresh spinach story AND the authentic confirmation of your mother’s and aunt’s cooking! Those sour cherries in the photo make me salivate for sure. I must remember to down a small snack before I open and read and look at your blog post and photographs, John. Looks great for the crowd here, too, which is nice.
    Not sure about downing the zucchini blossoms but I bet they are interesting to try.
    Enjoying your thoughts on meat. And thanks for all the visits to my blog, too.

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    • Thanks, Ruth, you’re too kind. I must admit those chops were a wonderful surprise in that restaurant. It certainly gave me a new respect for Mom & Zia’s cooking. In this part of the Midwest, we’re spoiled because we have our choice of cherries. I very much prefer the tart ones, though the sweet ones are great for snacking.I think zucchini blossoms might surprise you. Stay tuned …

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  4. Hi John, this is one of my favourite ways of cooking lamb too – though often with the addition of some chopped fresh thyme leaves as well. Perfect for all manner of cuts of lamb! Dinner doesn’t get much more flavourful than this. Love the look of your fried zucchini blossoms – just beautiful!

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    • Thank you for leaving such a nice compliment. My family didn’t use many herbs and spices, except when baking, but thyme would be a wonderful addition. Those fried zucchini were a real treat. I’m hoping to bring back more from this Saturday’s market. 🙂

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  5. Canned spinach, really? I never saw those at the market, only frozen. I wouldn’t eat canned spinach either. Your rack of lamb looks absolutely mouthwatering John. I love the flavors of rosemary and garlic! I never used lemon on lamb before. I shall try that next time, as I am intrigued! Have a great week!

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    • Canned spinach is before your time, Anne. Frozen foods were just becoming popular when I was a young boy. Before that, if you didn’t buy fresh vegetables, you bought them in a can. Mom & Dad bought fresh but many didn’t. You don’t need much lemon juice, when you choose to use it. Just a squeeze of the lemon or maybe a little zest. It works! You, too, have a great week and weekend.

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  6. Thank you for sharing your family recipes; they are the best kind of recipes:) The lamb is cooked beautifully and if cherries were in season here, I’d be turning off the computer to go make cherry jam!

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    • I’m glas you enjoy my blog. Michigan supplies this area with our cherries and, lucky for me, there are plenty of tart cherries. It’s not that way for much of the country. I’ll eat sweet cherries by the handful but when it comes to baking or making jam, I very much prefer using the tart ones.
      Thank you for the visit and for taking the time to post a comment.

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  7. Gorgeous post John. I love lamb, and I always cook it with garlic, rosemary and good olive oil. It’s one of my absolute favourite things to eat, whether it be slow-roasted, grilled or scorched on a barbecue. Love your recollections also. You write so well; I always feel like I can literally smell the aroma of whatever you’re cooking. Thanks for sharing this family recipe with us.

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    • Thank you, Laura, for the compliments. I’m so glad you enjoyed the post. Lamb is a favorite of mine, as well. I don’t have it at all frequently so it always has “treat” status, which makes it taste all the better. 🙂

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  8. ‘There is so much to see and experience in this world and so little time to do that. ‘

    Reading your post and seeing those amazingly tempting pictures brings back this awareness in a flood.

    The photo of the Fried Zucchini Blossoms is so tempting that even tough I have just had breakfast……….. Mmmmm!

    What is it about food visuals that turn us so?

    Shakti

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    • I wish I knew but I read the blogs, see the beautiful pictures, and absolutely love them all! Fickle, right? 🙂
      Thank you Shakti, for visiting and taking the time to comment.

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  9. Absolutely beautiful – the best treatment you can give a perfect, young, tasty rack of lamb! And I so agree with what you say about eating at other folks houses when you were younger…mind you, sometimes I did crave the Sunday roast that my best pal had EVERY Sunday lunch. But then she was round at our house eating pasta al forno and grilled meat and salad because she was fed up of the roasts! Reading this post also made me curious to know more about your family and how they came to be in the US and when they came over….another post perhaps (but only if you want to)?! Will have to go and read the pages on the Family Tree and Roots to see if you have already told us 🙂

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    • Considering how many similarities exist between our families’ recipes, I’m certain yours cooked meats in much the same way. I think my friends enjoyed eating at our house because there was always pasta. They didn’t know that Mom always had a stash of her homemade pasta and a frozen quart of sauce at the ready. If one of us announced that Billy or Bobby or Judy was staying for dinner, Mom got that sauce thawed and pasta cooked in no time and there was a big platter of pasta alongside the rest of the meal. I see you did some more reading. I’ll save my comments for the pages. 🙂

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  10. I have never eaten tinned spinach. It sound gross just saying it. We were just talking about mothers and what they feed their children at our morning break fast to start of the fast just now. The kids where talking about their friends and how their mothers buy frozen foods and stick them in the freezer for them. I don’t get that. I understand people who don’t want to cook or don’t like to cook, but wouldn’t you make an effort if you choose to have kids? I guess I’ll just concentrate on feeding my children properly and forget the rest!

    I love the simple marinade on this lamb and with the smoky grilling treatment, it’s all it needs. Even though I don’t like lamb, I seem to tolerate lamb chops ok, weird. These look delicious John and I love your story about your mom and zia. She sounds like an adorable lady.

    Nazneen

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    • Thank you, Nazneen, for leaving such a nice compliment.
      I’m feeling older and older as I read the comments. 🙂 I should have realized that most remember only frozen foods. Prior to them — and you all — just about any vegetable could be found tinned — well, not at our house.
      I do not like lamb that is cooked well done, Nazneen. Its flavor grows stronger the longer it is cooked. Lamb cooked medium rare, though, is another thing entirely.

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  11. My mother was the same. If I went to someone else’s house the food was always chops and three veg and everything grilled until it was bone dry or boiled until it was soggy and grey. It was so different back at my house where my mother prided herself in being up to the minute with the very latest cooking methods and ingredients. I love a rack of lamb. Such a wonderful dinner and simply done like this with some lemon, rosemary and garlic is just perfect. I was thinking of you last night, John, as I was invited to an Italian restaurant that’s run by genuine Italians. Had the best food imaginable and as I was enjoying it I was wondering how good it would be if you were at our table and I could ask you how you were enjoying it – I’m sure you would have been pleased! xx

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    • We were really blessed to be raised in homes where our Mothers cooked and cooked well. That restaurant sounds like the real deal and the only type of Italian restaurant I frequent. I would surely have enjoyed the meal and, most importantly, the company. We would have had a great time!

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  12. Superb marinade, simple is definitely the way to go with a meat as complex and tasty as lamb.

    amazing how food can bring back memories!

    We do have rack of lamb available here pretty much year round, I should cook them more often, Phil absolutely loves it!

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    • Simple is best, Sally. This blog has stirred up so many memories and I never expected that benefit. I’d forgotten many of these stories until I started writing or preparing a recipe. Oftentimes, the dish will trigger memories for Zia or some other family member, too. It’s remarkable!
      We, too, have rack of lamb available year-round. I’ve never noticed the big sale right after the holiday, though. I’m not sure if that was a normal post-holiday occurrence or I was just lucky. Either way, I’m hitting all of the meat counters in my area looking for more the day after every holiday. With luck, I might be able to fill my freezer! 🙂

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  13. All we ever had was canned spinach – I wish my mom had known yours! 🙂
    There are always people who order special cuts of meat for a holiday, then never show up for them…makes you wonder what they ate instead. Glad you scooped up the deals – and so is that butcher!

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    • I tell you, Marie, he and every butcher I frequent are going to tire of me the day after each holiday. That may be like catching lightning in a bottle but I’ve got to see if I can find another deal. Those 2 little racks were perfect for Zia and me. And they were on sale so she couldn’t get upset with me for spending too much. 🙂

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  14. I love your stories John, so many bring back such incredible memories for me and I thank you for that. My dear Mom was also a great cook, and my brother and I realized it when we went to our first birthday party and the mom served store bought cake, and we couldn’t stomach it! What on earth was that ‘icing’? It tasted like plastic! We’d never even heard of cake mix until I took Home Economics in grade five. The irony! Mashed potatoes out of a box? Like yours, our refrigerator was always chuck full of fresh fruits, vegetables, meats and cheeses! A delicious snack was never far from hand and it never came out of a box.
    In order to expand our food experience, my Mom had a couple of ethnic friends (one from Pakistan and the other from Jamaica) with whom she traded a meal or two! It was great fun for the family and we were surprised at how similar some dishes were.
    I’ve only started loving lamb since our trip to Morocco, but sadly I find Ontario lamb with such a strong smell, I still can’t eat it. It must be something we feed them. I do enjoy New Zealand lamb but it’s so expensive. I will try this recipe for a special occasion (there may be a benchmark birthday coming up;)!) I really love rosemary, garlic and EVOO!

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    • I think our Mothers would have gotten along famously. Mom was always willing to try a new recipe, especially Chinese dishes. I once joked with her that dinner at our house was “an adventure.” She never forgot it.
      Odd that Ontario lamb has so strong a scent. It’s expensive enough that I would hate to purchase some and find it so offensive. I certainly wouldn’t buy it a 2nd time. Yes, I, too, enjoy garlic, olive oil, and rosemary. The scent of them alone can make me salivate. Benchmark, eh? I’ve got one coming up, too. It’s still far enough away that I’ve not spent much time thinking about it but it’s coming, though! 🙂

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  15. The idea of canned spinach, like canned asparagus, just makes me cringe.
    My mom learned to make pizza from her sister who lived in New York. I too did not realize how authentic it was until we took a trip there and, of course, ate at a pizzeria. She had it right.
    I think your marinade is perfect and not just because it’s very similar to my own — no need to mask the great flavor of lamb. Another beautiful recipe, John!

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    • Thanks, Judy. It really wasn’t until I was an adult before I realized just how lucky I was to have a Mom that cooked and did so very well. In fact, all of the adults in that two-flat knew their way around a kitchen. It really was remarkable! When a meat is as flavorful as lamb, a simple marinade, as you know, is all that’s needed.

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    • Thanks, Maureen, and I love lamb grilled/barbecued. The only thing is that I never leave the grill. Left unattended, it seems like lamb will go from rare to well done in a minute or two.

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  16. Perfect lamb! I’m looking forward to seeing how you do your stuffed zucchini flowers…
    My mum was the kind that couldn’t cook (or had no interest), so I was one of the kids who discovered good food in other peoples’ homes – it gave me a great incentive to learn how to cook. Shame it did nothing for my sister, who’ll serve microwaved, supermarket chicken pie at a dinner party – yuck 😉

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    • Thanks, MD. My impetus for cooking came after I left home and moved here, to Chicago. I quickly realized that the days of ravioli and lasagna were gone — or at least becoming very rare. If I wanted them, I had to learn how to make them. So, I started asking questions and trying to duplicate her recipes. It took a while, and I’ve still plenty to learn, but I’m getting there.

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    • I remember canned spinach and you do not because I’m old and you’re not! 🙂 Popeye messed with a lot of kids back then.
      It’s a simple recipe and it doesn’t mask or overpower the meat at all. I hope you’ll like the fried zucchini. I enjoyed them.

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  17. Looks really delicious. Looking forward to the zucchini blossoms recipe. 🙂 I’ve never in my life eaten canned spinach, in fact I haven’t even seen it on the shelves here.

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    • Thank you for the compliment.I doubt very much it’s still canned. It was much more common until frozen foods took over. I hope you’ll enjoy the zucchini blossoms as much as I did. 🙂

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  18. It must have been something to have the exact same taste in a restaurant as at home! And it is nice to share the secret with us.
    I love lamb and I will keep your recipe in mind for next time I cook some.
    Thank you!

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    • You’re very welcome, Carine. It was a bit of a surprise that night in Florence. I gained a new respect for Mom & Zia’s cooking. I hope you’ll like lamb prepared this way. The marinade is common to quite a few of the Mediterranean countries.

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  19. Steve always tells the story of taking a friend home from college. The friend, whose mother couldn’t cook, raved and raved about the Italian food for dinner. But Steve was furious: “I come home from college and all you made was sausage and peppers?” Your lamb looks delicious!

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    • Thanks, Michelle. Steve’s story gave me a chuckle. Mom always had some dried homemade pasta and a quart of sauce in the freezer. If we invited a friend for dinner, she had a platter of linguine on the table to go with the rest of her meal. My friends loved it and we all knew how Mom pulled it off. 🙂

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  20. I’ve been waiting to see this post because I just knew I’d have the perfect recipe for cooking lamb to finally get my husband to try it. It’s one of those childhood things of his I guess since his mother could whip up a great sauce & lasagna but any type of meat was fried to shoe leather. This lamb looks so succulent & I hope the market has some waiting for me.
    Agree with you on canned spinach – yikes!

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    • Your poor DH. From my experience, the longer lamb is roasted, the more “lamb-y” it tastes. I bet he’ll like it much more if it’s cooked medium rare — and if not, you’ll have a great dinner regardless. 🙂

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  21. Oh I look forward to getting my lambs in the freezer (and i am definitely going to get the butchers to leave the chops as small racks) but with all my mucking about this summer it might be grilled rack of hogget! I loved your line about drowning the lamb! If i have enough rosemary i often throw a branch or two into the fire when i am grilling lamb, the rosemary smoke tastes delicious! c

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    • Once your freezer is packed, you should sell tickets to see it.I’m sure I’m not the only person who’d love to see it. 🙂
      You can also use a branch of rosemary as a brush to add more marinade to your meats as you grill them. It may not be as effective as your idea but it will impart a little more rosemary flavor.

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  22. John, your rack of lamb looks terrific. You are a very good cook that continues to follow your family who were all good cooks as well and we all benefit. Thank you for the shout out…I appreciate your kind words. 🙂

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    • Thank you, Karen, for your kind words. There have been a few dishes you’ve prepared that sound so similar to ours. This one in particular stood out and It was my pleasure to mention it.

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  23. When I was a kid I was so impressed by Popeye that I made my mom buy canned spinach once. Big mistake! That stuff is beyond awful. Love today’s recipe – lamb is my favorite red meat (though goat gives it some competition), and sadly I don’t eat it nearly enough. Rack of lamb is beastly expensive in restaurants (and not cheap at the market), so whenever we have it, we do it ourselves. Good tip BTW to check meat (and fish) markets after major holidays – I’ve found bargains that way too. I usually do serve mine garnished with chopped parsley, and almost always chop some garlic in with the parsley. Oh, and most of the time I forget to tent the trimmed bones with foil too! Excellent post and recipe – thanks.

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    • Thanks, John, from one forgetful griller to another. The canned spinach question is one time I listened to Mom and, to this day, I’ve never tried it. I would have been happy to find either piece of the rack at the market, especially at that price. To find 2 was heaven-sent. It was an additional treat for me to bring them home to Zia. There haven’t been any holidays to speak of, so, there’ll be nothing lie them in the cooler this time. I’ll have to rely on my winning smile and warm personality. 🙂

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  24. Beautifully written. Reminded me of my family’s cooking traditions, including the spinach story….
    Where did the “Like” button disappear to? 🙂

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  25. Thankfully your mom and Zia were authentically Italian chefs.. now we are blessed with them being passed down to us in your blog. I know what meat I’m preparing tonight.. and when I do, I’ll imagine you out manning the barbecue.. authentically Italian style:D

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    • Aw, thanks, Barb. I hope you did prepare lamb and enjoyed it cooked this way. You’re making ravioli and grilling meats just like back in the day. That “I’m an Honorary Bartolini” t-shirt is almost yours. 🙂

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  26. I cannot and will not eat vegetables out of a can! That lamb looks beautiful John! I use those same ingredients on my chicken as well. I see that you’ll be posting zucchini blossoms soon. I absolutely LOVE Fiori di Zucchini! I think that was my second post ever when I first started my blog. Can’t wait!

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    • I don’t eat canned vegetables either, Lidia, although, when I was a boy, frozen foods were just becoming popular. In mid-Winter, there was little else besides canned. Dad, however, went to the Italian markets and brought whatever fresh vegetables looked good that day. My fried zucchini recipe is a simple one but they certainly work for me. 🙂

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  27. Is it alright that I’m currently drooling and refuse to read the recipe because I wish this would just appear on my desk right now for dinner lol. I LOVE this John. Totally trying this out. You are truly carrying on your families legacy through cooking 🙂

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  28. Great post John. Although I adore Popeye and everything he stands for, I’ve never seen canned spinach. I do remember being very intrigued by the concept of it though as a little girl. Like you I was lucky enough to have a mum who cooked beautifully, and canned foods didn’t really feature in our pantry. The local kids were mostly impressed with mum’s cooking, although the very green pea soup with chunks of rookwurst floating on top had them running a mile. Your lamb looks beautiful John and is served just how I like it, pink and juicy with the simplest of flavours. Lucky you scoring it so cheaply! Lamb is something we have in abundance over here in Aus so the price has always perplexed me.

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    • Thanks, Saskia, It sounds like our Mothers followed the same guidelines when it came to vegetables. Go fresh or pick another one that is fresh. Canned vegetables were bing replaced by frozen when I was a boy. Spinach is one that make the transition and the canned version all but disappeared. Oh, there were some dishes that I dare not tell my peers were being cooked. Tripe, snails, pigeon are just a few. I can guarantee there were no friends over for dinner on those nights. 🙂
      Australian lamb is known the world-over. I wonder if most of it is shipped to foreign markets, where it can bring a higher price. That would, also, create a “shortage” in Oz and thus ensure a higher price, too.

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  29. My mom made canned spinach at least once a week. Thankfully she stumbled upon Fairway and changed her ways! But I do remember liking it as a child – I think because it was incredibly salty.

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    • We may not have been served canned spinach but we did have canned goods. Sometimes I cringe when I look at the labels of some of them … well, those that survived to present day. 🙂

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  30. Lovely stuff John. I often cook lamb in a very similar way. I love the rustic, rough cut approach. to my mind, it can give more robust enjoyable flavours that really suit the BBQ. And you said you would never get close to my lamb cooking. Shame on you for completely underselling your obvious talents.
    Best as ever,
    Conor

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    • You, Sir, are very kind. When I put these on the rack, I was praying that they wouldn’t over-cook. I’m not at all accustomed to using my Aunt’s grill and didn’t want to learn with rack of lamb, of all things.
      Thanks, Conor, for your encouraging comment.

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  31. Simply the best. If you have something wonderful to begin, then you mess with it as little as possible. These look great. In fact, I just came back from the butcher with some blade chops–now I know what I’m going to do with them. Thank. Ken

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    • Thanks, Ken. This really was how my family prepared all steaks, chops, and very often chicken, too. As much as I enjoy other preparations, sometimes this simple recipe can’t be beat, both for the flavors and memories. If you did prepare your chops this way, I hope you and Jody enjoyed them.

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      • Your recipe is virtually identical to the one we use, although we alternate between thyme and rosemary. 🙂 We began using it over 20 years after a trip to Provence. We were staying with friends who lived there and couldn’t help noticing the abundance of wild thyme and rosemary, which went went a long way toward explaining why so much of the local food was cooked with them. Ken

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  32. In our house it was the exact opposite – we ate canned everything, tomato soup, spaghetti o’s, green beans and even spinach. Among other things. Yeah, it was bad. But!! I’m making up for it now with people like you, John. And you wonder why I appreciate you so much (and make so much of your food).

    Fantastic dish! It’s beautiful! I love this recipe, John. Thank you!

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    • I don’t think Dad would have allowed Mom to serve canned vegetables. He’s the one that bought all of the fresh every Sunday. Sis and I went with him, more to get out of Mom’s hair than to be of any help to Dad. 🙂 It’s from him that I learned to buy fresh and in-season veggies.
      Thanks, Sarah, for never failing to be supportive when you comment. 🙂

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  33. The simplicity of this lamb is what makes it taste so good. My family loves lamb and would be very happy if I treated them to this. We never had canned spinach though we did have frozen. That is until my mom discovered hot bacon dressing. I think we had spinach salad every day for weeks. Now that was good stuff!

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    • Thanks, Abbe. Very often, with the finer cuts, simple is best, as you noted. We had a similar experience when Mom discovered Ranch dressing. Suddenly, every salad — lettuce, spinach, or whatever — was dressed with Ranch. It took a few months for it to lose its status. 🙂

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  35. I didn’t even know about the existence of canned spinach. No offense to anyone but they must taste horribly. 😉
    I relate to your story but only partially. Some of my daughter’s friends would pick a fight to win a dinner at my table but some are so used to junk food that they look suspiciously at my food and even refuse to taste it.
    As to your lamb…brilliant in its simplicity. A total winner in my book! 🙂

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    • Thank you, Francesca. You’re too young to have seen canned spinach. When I was young, canned vegetables were in the process of being replaced by frozen. Same, really, with fast food. There just weren’t many fast food restaurants. There were small diners that would eventually go out-of-business once McDonald’s came to town.

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  36. I just had fried zucchini blossoms! They are great!!!! And I’ve also been doing a ton of baking with cherries. They are fabulous right now. 🙂 Your rack of lamb looks delicious – even to a non-lamb fan. I do like preparing it though and Mr. N and Mike are always happy to indulge. Perhaps lamb for the boys and cherries for us gals. 🙂

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    • Thanks, Kristy, and your dinner of lamb and cherries sounds wonderful! Maybe I should attend, since I enjoy both. I could be a kinda/sorta demilitarized zone at your dinner table. I’ll even bring cannoli for dessert. 🙂

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  37. If you write about lamb I am there ‘wanting’ my favourite meat! Not that I can afford racks these days at some $A26 a kilo!! And I have never seen them on special here 😦 ! I prepare mine in very much the same way but have not usually added lemon. Also mine are more likely to go into a hot oven than onto a grill. Absolutely love your family story . . . brings back ones own memories and makes one feel ‘fuzzy warm’. Spinach in tins: never heard of such: I honestly don’t think we have such, but then tinned vegetables have never been on the shopping list! Have occasionally bought frozen to add to a recipe . . .

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    • Rack of lamb is expensive here, too, Eha, though not quite as high as in your area. Still, finding those 2 mini-racks at half-price was a lucky break. I’m glad this post brought back some good memories. Tinned vegetables were on their way out when I was a boy and were being replaced by frozen. Dad did the vegetable buying on Sunday mornings and he was the reason we are mostly fresh. That’s how I learned to shop for fresh and in-season vegetables, though, like you, I will use frozen when left with no choice for a recipe. Have a great week, Eha.

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  38. I just shuddered at the thought of ‘canned spinach’! I don’t think we have it here in Australia John, never heard of it before. Probably a good thing!!
    I love that you got your rack at half price! We have really great quality local lamb here, however it’s so expensive it’s outrageous. Having a rack of lamb really is a ‘special occasion’ treat unfortunately for us. Your marinade would certainly work wonderfully with other cuts though I’m sure!
    Th

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    • I think, Lisa, that you are too young to have seen canned spinach. When I was a boy, canned vegetables were being replaced by frozen. Spinach made the transition and the canned went away in most places. I am forever checking the meat counter for deals but this is the first time I was rewarded so handsomely! What a treat! Yes, we use this same marinade with pork chops, beef steaks, and even chicken. Sometimes simple works best. Have a great week, Lisa!

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  39. As little meat as I eat, I can’t resist lamb when it’s well-prepared. I have never grilled it! Your generous directions are so thorough I wouldn’t hesitate to use the bbq! I also wanted to say that the tart cherries look delicious. The cherries I’m most familiar with are two-toned red and yellow, or almost maroon. I don’t think I’ve actually seen cherries that red before. They look wonderful. Now I’ll eagerly wait for the squash blossoms. They look fascinating, John!

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    • Thanks, Debra, for always being so supportive in your comments. I’m familiar with the cherries you described. Both are known as sweet cherries. Michigan is just on the other side of the Lake and it accounts for 70% of the country’s tart cherry production. By far, most of the tart cherries go to industry for pies and the like but some are frozen, though I’ve never seen them in the markets. Around here, we can get them fresh at the farmers markets or from the “source” if you’re willing to take a couple hour drive. 🙂

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  40. Did you do a double check to make sure your mom did not slip into the back to make your meal in Florence? I love the rough chop of garlic on your Mediterranean-Style Spring Rack of Lamb. You almost use as much garlic as me.. well almost. The essence from the rosemary and light touch of olive oil and cooked to perfection is what makes this dish so special. Take care, BAM

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    • No, she wasn’t there, Barb, but I couldn’t wait to tell her all about it. Not being born in Italy, she and Zia sometimes felt their cooking didn’t measure up. My “report” was, in a sense, vindication for them both and I was more than happy to relay it. That garlic was Zia’s doing. There definitely would have been more if I’d done the seasoning, though you wouldn’t have known it. Once the photos are taken, I usually add more garlic and pepper. I’d do it before the photos but it would probably scare off everyone but the like-minded. 🙂

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  41. To be quite honest John, I didn’t really think you could get spinach in a can!
    Now, rack of lamb at half price – that would make my Pete the happiest man ever! LOVE what you did with the rack John – just perfect!
    🙂 Mandy xo

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    • That’s because you’re too young to know of canned spinach, Mandy, and, having admitted that, I’m not the least bit jealous. 🙂
      Yes, HALF-PRICE!!! I actually double-checked the packaging of both, thinking there must have been a mistake. I will be back a every meat counter I know on the day after holidays from now on, trying to see if lightning will strike twice. I’ll be eating mighty well if it does!

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  42. Most of my mom’s cooking comes from her head and the old country. I know her cooking is very authentic, but I’m sure it’s regional. I’ve never really researched the differences between the meals according the village you lived in! I do love lamb! It definitely reminds of my mom’s authentic Greek meals!

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    • Thanks, Tanya. The flavors in this marinade are common throughout the Mediterranean. Mom and Zia were the first, that I know of, to actually write down some of our family recipes. Before them, everything was passed down from generation to generation by word of mouth and example. I’ve recorded more than both combined. When I visited Greece, I was struck by how each island had its own version of spanakopita. It reminded me of Italy in that regard. Like here, though, things are changing. The country is slowly becoming more homogenized. From what I’ve read, for the first time, more people are buying ready-made pasta than make it at home. The horror!

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  43. So much to comment on, where to start!?! Spinach in a can? Unimaginable. May I live out the rest of my decades without ever experiencing that. You had me laughing out loud with your comment that the lamb is already dead, don’t drown it in olive oil. A catchy way of getting across the message that it’s good to be judicious with this precious oil. Good oil is expensive, and doesn’t need to be used copiously; why waste it? I like your marinade method; it doesn’t have to be full of liquid to do its job!

    How heartwarming it was to read that you travelled to Italy and the food there tasted just like what your mother made at home. That’s authenticity!

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    • Oh, spinach in the can was around, just not in our house, thankfully. Dad made sure we ate mostly fresh vegetables. He did the buying. 🙂
      There are many recipes for marinades and most are quite fine. This one, though, doesn’t require you to submerge the meat in a pool of marinade. A light coating of oil with the herbs and spices and you’re set to go. Besides, with an expensive cut like rack of lamb, I want to taste the meat. Not all marinades allow that.
      The best part of discovering that Mom & Zia cooked so authentically, Mar, was coming home and telling them. Both were often self-conscious of their cooking, not having been born in Italy. This was real validation for them and I got to be the one to tell them. 🙂

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      • I didn’t realize (or more likely, didn’t remember) that your mother and aunt weren’t born in Italy. Their skill in the kitchen certainly speaks to the strength of cuisine in the Italian culture. Impressive!

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  44. I feel the same way about my mom…she’s a master in the kitchen! My friends loved and still love coming over to eat her food. I hope to someday be as skilled as her. and yuck, no way to canned spinach! Fresh is definitely the way to go. That lamb is stunning!!

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    • We were blessed, eh, Caroline? Every now and then, someone will leave a comment, a memory of Mom and her cooking. They never fail to give me a broad smile.
      I’ve never tasted your food nor that of your Mom’s. I will say, though, that judging from your posts, you’re quite a cook, Caroline, and your Mom must be proud. 😉

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  45. Hi, John. Great post and fabulous looking lamb. I love the simplicity of the dish and imagine it was absolutely delicious. I also caught the sneak peak of the stuffed squash blossoms which are one of my favorite things. I can’t wait to read the post.

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    • Thank you, Richard. This style of cooking meat was one of those things I took for granted. Only once I moved away and had some terribly prepared meats — some by my own doing — did I fully appreciate what I’d had at home. The journey took awhile but now I’ve come full-circle.

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  46. Added ingredients should enhance, not overpower the taste of the meat, as you’ve shown here, CJ. Sorry, I was raised on canned veggies, so I can eat canned anything. Having said that, I do prefer cooked fresh vegetables!

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    • I couldn’t agree more about the role of added ingredients. It’s a crime when some take a good piece of meat and “doctor” it to the point that it is barely recognizable. What a waste! All of us ate what our parents put before us. Dad insisted upon fresh vegetables and Mom compromised once frozen vegetables became more readily available. We did have some canned but spinach definitely wasn’t among them. 🙂

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  47. To have a Mom who cooks that good is a blessing few of us realize. I always thought all kids thought their Moms were the best cooks in the world, at least I thought mine was – until I met my husband. My late mother in law, bless her soul, was a wonderful human being and a disastrous cook. And she raised a son who has such developed taste buds that it amazes me to this day. Much as he loves his mother and misses her still, he has no qualms about saying she was a terrible cook. And to my further horror, his father agrees with him. My FIL of course, he is a formidable cook himself, never mind he never thought of exploring that quality while my MIL was still alive. So far I had sons who haven’t horrified me with comments of how bad I cook..yet, lol!! This lamb would do your mother proud, and one that I can serve at my dinner table and draw Ooos and Aahs. As for canned vegetables….well, my kitchen cabinets never have them, unless I have a Blizzard coming. Once it goes on its way, the cans find their way to the donation bins.

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    • Thanks, Minnie, for the lovely compliments. You’re right. Having a Mother that knows how to cook is a real blessing. Judging by the recipes you’ve shared, I don’t think your Boys have anything to complain about. If anything, should they ever start a blog, I think you’ll be very pleased to read what they have to say about your cooking. The only canned goods I stock are canned tomatoes. One just cannot find a good tomato around here from November to June. I don’t even try anymore. 🙂

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    • I’ve not seen it in ages, Eleni. I was in a market Saturday, walking down the canned good aisle. I was going to look to see if they carried canned spinach but kept walking instead. I really don’t need to know. 🙂

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  48. Lamb-Rosemary-Garlic. Sounds like a supper-to-die-for 🙂
    (And I’m cleaning my keybord now. It got flooded with my drool. The blame goes to your provocative pictures) 🙂 🙂

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  49. Honestly, I cannot tell you how excited I am to see rack of lamb here today. We always make rack of lamb at least once each summer because both my favourite husband and my stepfather L-O-V-E it. I will be printing this page to take with me when we make it in August. Thanks!

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    • That really is a nice thing to say and such a compliment. I hope you all enjoy your lamb fixed this way as much as we always have. I can’t wait to hear what they all have to say. 🙂

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  50. Mmm rack of lamb… it’s a food Dad and agree on. For people from the same family our foodie opinions diverge more than they should. Like on spinach… When I was a kid we didn’t eat it canned but we did eat it drenched in vinegar. Why? I have no idea. I love spinach without vinegar, and brussel sprouts but not frozen. I was condemned for not eating them. Don’t even ask me what Dad says about pasta, oh and pumpkin… it’s ok for him to have food preferences!
    I’m looking forward to your zucchini flowers. I made them for the first time recently, and the G.O. who is suspicious of a great many plant foods liked them. When I make your recipe, I bet he loves them 🙂

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    • Food preferences with a family always fascinate me. My Brother, for example would only eat his eat well-done. For my Father, this was sacrilege. All of our meats were prepared rare. How my Brother decided he liked well-done is beyond me but it would infuriate my Dad every time.
      I’m new to the zucchini blossoms myself. I hope you’ll like what I’ve done. I’d be interested is learning how you prepared yours. 🙂

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      • How I prepared my zucchini blossoms is a sad story. We bought them on impulse to eat simply dipped in batter and pan fried, not stuffed, as a Saturday pre-dinner snack but events intervened and I didn’t get to them until the Monday evening when they looked a bit worse for wear. Undaunted I thought I’ll stuff them but the fridge contents yielded not much. Anyway… I went with good tasty cheese finely grated with pitted Sicilian olives and sun dried tomatoes all blended together. It worked, and was probably a blessing in disguise, as the G.O. liked them, probably more than he would have plain 🙂

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        • My first attempts weren’t much better. I’ve gone the experimental route and have settled on a batter and stuffing I like. Knowing me, though, I’ll keep tinkering with them as long as I can find them at the farmers market. I’d really like to take some with me to Michigan but there’s no way they’d survive the trip. I’d love to see how Zia would handle them. I should plant some squash seeds in her yard just for the blossoms. 😉

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  51. Sorry if I sounds naive but… ewwww… canned spinach is actually a thing? I thought it was just in the cartoon! My mom doesn’t like to cook, but I’ve never ever had anything but fresh spinach (on the odd occasion, she would buy frozen to make spinach dip).

    The lamb chops look amazing! I tried lamb for the first time a few months ago. My dad doesn’t like lamb, so mom never bothered cooking it. I bought myself a single chop, marinated it in olive oil, salt, and peppers, and cooked it up. I loved it! I will try your spice/herb marinade next time though. I want to make it for Bryan next time we splurge for an occasion.

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    • I’ve a feeling, Amber, that you’re too young — meaning I’m old — to know of canned spinach. As a boy, canned foods were just being replaced by frozen. My Dad did the vegetable shopping and we ate fresh. He insisted, though, Mom snuck some frozen veggies into our meals during Winter.
      Lamb is a great protein and I, too, love it. Years ago, you had to cook it till well-done, just like pork. The problem with that is the longer you cook lamb, the stronger the taste and many find that unpleasant. Cook it medium rare and it is a delicious meat. I hope you enjoy my family’s method of cooking it. In the meantime, you can use the same marinade for steaks or pork chops. Good luck! 🙂

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  52. Don’t recall ever seeing canned spinach, wonder what it taste like?
    Now that you have given away the “special deal” secret at the meat counter, your chances of finding those deals are now going to be scarce.
    Simply prepared, your lamb looks fab.

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  53. Beautiful story John. I am hoping that one day the same will dawn on my son. My mother was not a good cook. She hated cooking and was mortified when I wanted to become a chef. I love your fortunate find of lamb and you have done it proud

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    • Thanks and don’t worry about your Son. Your blog is full of mouth-watering dishes. Like most sons, he won’t realize how good he has it until he leaves the nest. Learning to cook for oneself is a real eye-opener. 🙂

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  54. The lamb looks wonderful! And I love how your mother was a “Jamie Oliver” before his time! I’m sure that all across America there are the hidden gems that are masters in the kitchen, we just need refind them during this time of overly processed food and really enjoy their authentic flavors.

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    • Thank you so much. I couldn’t agree more. We are sacrificing nutrition for convenience. It’s no wonder obesity has become such a terrible problem. A home cooked meal should be the norm and not the exception it has become.

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  55. These look so good, John, and just last night my husband and I were discussing a desire for grilled lamb chops! I love the Mediterranean approach to simply seasoning meats and fish, and usually grilling them.

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    • Thanks, Betsy. You’re right. This marinade is the Mediterranean way of preparing meats. I could just of easily wrote the post featuring steaks, pork chops, or chicken. It’s not often, however, that I get rack of lamb and I couldn’t ignore the it. The post wrote itself. 🙂

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  56. Wonderful as always, John: rack of lamb is one favorite of mine among meat dishes! And, I have to say I am looking forward to your fried zucchini blossom recipe as I love them too! 🙂 Thank you, John!

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  57. Hi John,
    I love coming here where I have enough time to read your hilarious stories. They are always so well crafted, I enjoy reading them. You know, I have never seen or eaten canned spinach. I bet it’s out there on the store shelfs but I am always on the lookout for things like canned beans, garbanzo or sweet corn and somehow canned spinach doesn’t just sound right for me. I love my spinach fresh, and sautéing it in garlic flavoured olive oil sounds delicious because I love garlic. I always have some garlic in the kitchen and add it to virtually everything I cook. My mom loves garlic, too. She says it’s good for her heart. The recipe for rack of lamb is so simple but elegant at the same time. I can just imagine what it tastes like in the end, flavoured with rosemary and drizzled with some olive oil. I am looking forward to the fried zucchini blossoms. You know how I love zucchini too. That zucchini blossom, photo looks great. Thanks for sharing this simple but elegant recipe and thanks for visiting my blog several times. Your presence there is always appreciated. I wish you a wonderful week and best wishes to your wonderful family!

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    • Thanks, Liz, for leaving such a gracious comment. As far as I’m concerned, canned spinach will remain one of life’s mysteries. I’ve no desire to find out whether it’s good. I grew up watching Mom sauté garlic in some olive oil, remove it once it started to brown, then sauté some onions before adding the spinach. It works for me! If it ain’t broke …
      I’m glad you enjoyed the post and hope you’ll feel the same about the zucchini blossoms. Have a great week!

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  58. i’m not a fans of canned spinach since it preety pricey compares to the fresh ones because all canned spinach are imported
    btw, thx to popeye, we used to called amarath as spinach in Indonesia….
    this post make me craving even more since actually i’m a lamb person..
    btw, have ever try to smoke lamb rack before????

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    • I’m no fan of canned either but not because of the price. Most of our canned vegetables aren’t at all expensive. I haven’t a smoker and have never tried smoked lamb before, I bet it’s delicious!

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    • Thank you, Celia. I’m not at all accustomed to using Zia’s barbecue. I stood over that lamb like it was a newborn, fearful that if I left the barbecue, it would burn. 🙂

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  59. Thank you for this recipe and process! I’ve always wanted to do this and now I can. We are both big lamb lovers so I know this would be a huge hit!

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    • Thanks, MJ. I, too, am a lamb lover and find myself preparing it more often than I do beef. I hope you enjoy your lamb prepared this way. Aside from braised lamb shanks, this is the only way I’ve ever prepared lamb. 🙂

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  60. Your mother sounds like a phenomenal woman–if only everyone could grow up with delicious fresh meals made with love! This recipe looks fantastic and I have no doubt that it is!

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    • Thank you for leaving such a lovely compliment, Mary Frances. Mom was something special and I can almost feel her in my kitchen whenever I cook one of these family recipes.

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  61. I brought this recipe with me to our family BBQ this past weekend. We made lamb chops instead of rack of lamb, but the marinade worked beautifully all the same. The chops were a huge hit and, of course, I looked like a hero.

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    • Good for you! I’m honored that you had enough confidence in the recipe to use it at a family affair. It such a simple method but it sure does deliver. I especially like how the meat smells coming off of the grill. I get a whiff of that scent and am immediately transported to my youth. 🙂

      Like

  62. Pingback: A Shout Out Sunday, Award Season & St. Patrick’s Day | feasting with friends

  63. Pingback: The Visitation of 2015 | from the Bartolini kitchens

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