Crown of Lamb with Arugula Pesto with Herbed Wild Rice Stuffing

Ask your butcher to trim your lamb racks for you to save time, especially if you’ve never done it before. There’s a trick to the twine, too: Separate it into thin sections of three strands each to better fit this relatively small cut of meat. The twine will hold steady but not make too much of a mark in the sides.

Look for organic carrots with their greens intact; they’re smaller and thinner, and a quick scrub beats having to get the vegetable peeler out. The greens will factor into the weight, so ask your grocer to cut them off (or tear them off yourself) so you get an accurate measurement. You can also add vibrancy to your table with rainbow carrots.

Make the stuffing a day ahead if you need to – just like the bread stuffing you make on Thanksgiving. Simply warm it, covered, in the oven, stirring occasionally until heated through. Wait to add fresh herbs until just before stuffing the lamb.

Serves | 8 |

Arugula Pesto

  • 1 cup loosely packed baby arugula
  • 1 cup loosely packed fresh parsley leaves
  • ¼ cup loosely packed fresh mint leaves
  • 1 clove garlic, chopped
  • ½ cup pine nuts
  • 2⁄3 cup olive oil
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Herbed Wild Rice Stuffing

  • 1¼ cups long-grain wild rice (not quick-cooking)
  • 5 cups unsalted chicken broth
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 cup long-grain white rice
  • ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, plus more for greasing baking dish
  • ¾ cup small-diced shallots
  • 2 cups finely chopped fresh parsley leaves, divided
  • ¾ cup plus 3 Tbsp finely chopped fresh mint leaves, divided
  • 2⁄3 cup toasted pine nuts, divided
Cardamom-Chamomile Glazed Carrots

Cardamom-chamomile glazed carrots.

Cardamom-Chamomile Glazed Carrots

  • 2 Tbsp olive oil, plus more for oiling pan
  • 4 Tbsp unsalted butter
  • 2 Tbsp granulated sugar
  • 4 pods cardamom
  • 1 cup fresh orange juice (from 2 to 3 large oranges)
  • 1 cup strong chamomile tea (brewed with 3 bags or equivalent amount of loose tea)
  • 2 Tbsp honey
  • 3 lbs (4 bunches) organic carrots, scrubbed, greens trimmed to ½ inch
  • kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Crown of Lamb

  • ¼ cup Dijon mustard
  • 2 Tbsp fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • ½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • pinch chile flakes
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil, divided
  • 2 6-foot sections cotton kitchen twine, separated into 3 strands each
  • 2 8-bone-racks lamb (about 1 to 1½ lbs each), frenched

| Preparation – Arugula Pesto | In the bowl of a food processor, add arugula, parsley, mint and garlic; pulse until finely chopped and blended, 5 to 6 times. Add pine nuts and continue to pulse until blended. With motor on, slowly stream in olive oil, scraping sides of bowl down as needed until everything is smooth and combined. Season to taste with salt and pepper, place in a lidded container and refrigerate until ready to use.

| Preparation – Herbed Wild Rice Stuffing | In a large saucepan over high heat, combine wild rice, broth and salt and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat and simmer, 30 minutes. Stir in white rice, cover again and increase heat to high until mixture returns to a boil; decrease heat to a simmer once again and cook until done, 20 to 25 minutes. Remove from heat, covered, 5 minutes, then fluff with fork.

While rice is cooking, preheat oven to 350°F. Butter bottom and sides of a 13-by-9-inch glass baking dish.

Once rice is cooked, in a large skillet over medium heat, heat butter; add shallots and cook until softened and fragrant, stirring frequently, 5 minutes. Add cooked rice to shallot mixture and toss to coat; add 1½ cups parsley, ¾ cup mint and ½ cup pine nuts, stirring until evenly distributed. Transfer to baking dish, cover tightly with foil and cook for 40 minutes. Uncover and cook for another 20 minutes until crispy on top. Keep warm and reserve remaining parsley, mint and pine nuts for serving.

| Preparation – Cardamom-Chamomile Glazed Carrots | Preheat oven to 400°F and brush a lipped sheet pan with a little oil.

In a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium-high heat, melt butter. Add sugar and stir to dissolve, then add cardamom pods and heat, stirring frequently, 2 minutes. Add orange juice and chamomile tea, stir to incorporate and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until reduced and syrupy, 35 minutes, stirring occasionally. Watch carefully and stir constantly in final minutes to avoid burning. While glaze is simmering, whisk reserved olive oil and honey together; toss with carrots to coat. Lay carrots in a single layer on prepared pan lengthwise, tips facing inward and thick stems at the edge for even cooking. Season generously with salt and pepper. Roast for 25 to 30 minutes until tender.

Remove carrots from oven and transfer into a large baker or lipped platter. Pour glaze over roasted carrots and season with salt and pepper. Keep warm until ready to serve.

| Preparation – Crown of Lamb | Once carrots are finished roasting, reduce oven heat to 375°F. In a small bowl, whisk together Dijon mustard, thyme leaves, garlic, salt, pepper, chile flakes and 1 tablespoon olive oil until blended. Set aside. Brush inside of a Bundt pan all over with remaining olive oil.

Cut a 6-foot length of twine into 3 equal sections. Lay lamb racks next to each other, fat-side up, and use 1 section of twine to tie the racks together in the middle of endbones. Stand racks up, bend into a circle, and secure other side in the same manner, fat-side facing inward. Use the third section to tie a “tightrope” between the 2 tied sections to pull lamb racks securely into a circle. Circle base of lamb crown 3 times around with remaining 6-foot length of twine to face both ends inward toward each other, then transfer crown to prepared Bundt pan.

Use a basting brush to brush outside all over with mustard mixture. Place in oven on middle rack and cook until thermometer registers an internal temperature of 130°F, about 9 to 12 minutes per pound. Remove from oven and tent with foil or cover with another large metal bowl to trap heat. Allow to rest, 15 to 20 minutes.

| To Serve | Just before serving, stir in remaining parsley and mint in stuffing, reserving 1 tablespoon each for garnish. Spread a third of stuffing on platter as a foundation for crown of lamb, then place roast in center. Pile remaining stuffing in center of crown. Garnish with remaining pine nuts, parsley and mint leaves. Serve lamb and stuffing with roasted carrots and arugula pesto.

Westphalia Vineyards’ 2012 Norton Reserve

Pair it With: Westphalia Vineyards’ 2012 Norton Reserve

Westphalia Vineyards’ 2012 Norton Reserve is an ideal match for this rich dish; it could even be used as a marinade for the lamb. This full-bodied, sulfite-free dry wine has aromas of dark fruits, spice and oak, and it’s made from estate-grown grapes. It has a burst of fruit on the front, like biting into a black cherry. Flavors of rhubarb and raspberry and a slight earthiness give it a nice, full mouthfeel. Aged in Missouri oak barrels for one year, this wine has a medium tannin structure and oak notes on the finish. —Hilary Hedges

Westphalia Vineyards, 106 E. Main St., Westphalia, Missouri, 573.455.2000, westphaliavineyards.com

Shannon Weber is the creator, author and photographer behind the award-winning blogaperiodictableblog.com, and her work has appeared on websites such as Bon Appétit, Serious Eats and America’s Test Kitchen.

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