Photo by Dana Gallagher

Holiday cooking, Hanukkah, Christmas, & New Year’s, is a time to create special meals to be shared with family and friends.  This elegant rack of lamb is delectable yet easy to prepare.  It is an ideal recipe for when you want to impress your guests without being chained to the kitchen for hours.

Lamb is a traditional favorite of central Italy and often featured in Roman and Sardinian cooking.  Tender young lamb is a spring delicacy, when the whole animal is cut up and pan-roasted for Easter.   In the winter, when more mature lamb is available, this rack of lamb makes a great celebratory dish for the holidays. A crisp savory crust of Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese and breadcrumbs surrounds tender and juicy lamb that is rich in flavor.

We often serve this lamb rack for special occasions and recently, we made it to celebrate Giuliano’s birthday.  We all thoroughly enjoyed it and even 7-year-old Michela had a second chop!

Rack of Lamb Encrusted  with Parmesan Cheese

(From Every Night Italian by Giuliano Hazan)

Total time from start to finish: 45 minutes

serves 4 to 6  people

2 racks of lamb (approximately 3 pounds)

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil


freshly ground black pepper

1 teaspoon fresh rosemary or 1/2 teaspoon dried,  finely chopped

2 tablespoons freshly grated parmigiano-reggiano

1 tablespoon dry plain bread crumbs

1.  Preheat oven to 400°.

2.  Place the rack of lamb in a baking pan and pour the olive oil over it, spreading it over the lamb with your fingers or a basting brush.  Season with salt and pepper and sprinkle the rosemary over it.

3.  Put the lamb in the upper level of the preheated oven and bake for 35 minutes to cook it medium rare.  (Cook it five minutes less if you want it done rare or five minutes more if you like it medium.)

4.  Mix the parmesan cheese and the bread crumbs together on a plate large enough to accommodate the lamb rack.

5.  When you have taken the meat out of the oven, turn the oven up to 450°.  Grasp the lamb rack by the ribs with a pot holder and place it on the bread crumb and cheese mixture, turning it until it coated on all sides.  Put the lamb back in the baking pan and sprinkle the remaining parmesan and bread crumbs over it.  Return the pan to the oven and bake for another 5 minutes.

6.  Take the lamb out of the oven, cut the rack into individual chops and serve at once.