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Roasted Rack of Lamb with Olive Tapenade Sauce

Related Ingredients

Tasting Notes

Rack of lamb brings rustic elegance to the dinner table.

The combination of rosemary and garlic are classic accompaniments to this Roman-style roasted lamb, and their flavors penetrate the meat without being overwhelming or overpowering. The lamb pairs perfectly with a simple tapenade of briny, buttery, tart niçoise olives, salty anchovies and sweet, silky olive oil.  An acidic splash of sherry vinegar cuts through the richness of the lamb, olive oil and olives.

Tips & Techniques

  1. Lamb lingo. When purchasing your chop, ask for a four-bone rack, and tell your butcher that you’d like bones scraped and you’d like it Frenched. The cut you take home should look just the one that Michael prepares in the video.
  2. Olive prep pointer. Rinsing the olives under warm water will remove excess brine and also soften the olives, which makes them easier to pit.
  3. Simple substitution. If you don’t have anchovies on hand, you can use a few drops of fish sauce instead.
  4. Searing suggestion. Sear the meat with the fatty side down first. This way, the fat will render and flavor the cooking oil.




This tool is one we find especially helpful when making this dish.

  1. Rolling pin. To remove the pits from your olives, spread them out between two absorbent dishtowels and crush them with a rolling pin. This will crack the olives, making the pits easy to pull out.

The list below includes all the equipment you’ll want to make this dish.

  • Small baking dish or plastic storage container
  • Heavy roasting or sauté pan
  • Tongs
  • Digital thermometer or tweezers
  • Large spoon
  • Knife and cutting board
  • Plastic spatula
  • Medium bowl
  • Baking sheet with rack


For Marinating Lamb:

  • 1 (1-pound) 8 rib rack of lamb, Frenched
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • Pepper
  • 8 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
  • 2 sprigs rosemary, cut in half


For Roasting Lamb:

  • 1 marinated 8 rib rack of lamb, recipe above
  • Salt and pepper
  • 3 tablespoons grapeseed oil
  • Flaky sea salt, such as Maldon


For Tapenade Sauce: 

  • 2 cups Niçoise olives (or Kalamata)
  • 4 anchovy filets, rinsed of salt and patted dry
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped thyme leaves
  • 2 tablespoons sherry vinegar, plus more as needed
  • 1½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • Salt and pepper


Serves: 4
Total Time: 40 Minutes, plus 6 hours marinating
Active Time: 30 Minutes


Tapenade Sauce
Serves: 2 cups

Total Time: 30 minutes

Active Time: 30 minutes


For Marinating Lamb:

  1. Place lamb rack in an airtight container. Coat with olive oil and top with a couple turns of fresh black pepper. Add garlic and rosemary to the container. Cover and refrigerate for at least 6 hours to overnight.


For Roasting Lamb:

  1. Set lamb at room temperature for 30 minutes. Preheat the oven to 300°F.
  2. Remove lamb from the marinade, brushing off rosemary needles.
  3. Heat a large sauté pan over high heat. Add the grapeseed oil.
  4. Season the lamb generously with salt and pepper. Once the oil is hot, place the rack, fat side down, in the pan. Lower the heat to medium high and sear on all sides until browned, about 2 minutes per side. Transfer rosemary and garlic from the marinade to the pan and baste the lamb in the oil for 30 seconds.
  5. Place the pan in the oven and roast until a digital thermometer inserted into the center reaches the internal temperature reaches 130°F, about 5 to 15 minutes. With practice, you can also tell the doneness of the lamb by taking the tweezers and testing how firm the meat is by gently poking the center of the lamb with the tweezers. Depending on the push back of the meat will determine how rare or cooked the lamb is.  Pull the lamb out of the oven and let it rest for 5-10 minutes to carry over to the perfect medium rare, (135°F). Cut into chops by cutting along the bone of the chops. Season with salt and pepper if necessary.


For Tapenade Sauce: 

  1. Remove pits from olives by pressing down on an olive, one at a time, using the flat side of a knife and your body weight.
  2. Mince the anchovy fillets and roughly chopped the pitted olives. Combine them in a small bowl along with the garlic, thyme and the vinegar. Stir in the olive oil. Season with salt, pepper and more vinegar, as needed. Note: To turn this into a standard tapenade, finely chop the olives and reduce the olive oil by one cup.

Here is a great way to turn this dish into a meal

Steamed halibut with oven-dried tomatoes & olive tapenade

Serve the tapenade over a piece of steamed halibut with oven-dried tomatoes.