About this recipe:Get an applause from friends and family when you bring this masterpiece to the table. Crown roast lamb gets a royal welcome thanks to its flavour and striking appearance - the trick is to keep it simple and don't overcook it! You can ask your butcher to "French trim" the roast and tie it together for you so that the crown is already formed and oven-ready, however this is a recipe for creating the crown from scratch.
4 large sprigs fresh rosemary
2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme
10 cloves garlic, minced
4 to 6 tablespoons salted butter
salt and pepper, to taste
2 (400g) racks lamb (8 cutlets on each)
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Preheat the oven 200 C / Gas 6. Grease a roasting tin.
In a bowl, strip the leaves off the rosemary and thyme and discard the stalks. Mix the rosemary leaves, thyme, garlic and butter together and set aside.
To prepare the crown, lay the two racks, fatty side up and if necessary, cut back any excess fat from the bone. Try to ensure that the bones are as "clean" from fat and flesh as possible to avoid burning. You can do this by running the flat blade of a sharp knife over the bones.
Turn the rack over to what will be the inside of the crown and use a sharp knife to make indents in the meat at the cutlet end (don't cut all the way through, just enough to allow for the bend of the crown), this will help the racks to be tied in a circle to form the crown.
Flip the racks back over to the fatty side and score with a knife. Rub the fat with the herb butter and season liberally with salt and pepper. Place into a glass dish and allow to marinate in the fridge for 2 to 3 hours (optional).
To form the crown, use the sides of a dish to help you. Stand the two racks up, bone side up and fatty side facing inwards and form into a circle. Tie the two racks together discreetly with kitchen string at the base and centre of the adjoining bones (if you have more time you can even use a needle to sew the two together). Tie kitchen string around the outside centre and base to also help hold its shape. Allow the lamb to come up to room temperature prior to cooking as this will result in a more even cook.
Roast in the oven for 15 to 20 minutes for medium rare, cook for a further 8 to 10 minutes for medium to well. For smaller racks allow less time, for larger racks allow more time. Check often to ensure that the lamb is not overcooking and use a meat thermometer to remove some of the guesswork (see tip below).
Remove the lamb from the oven and allow to rest for 10 to 15 minutes. Remove the string from the outside of the crown, but leave the two discreet knots holding the two racks together. Transfer to a serving plate, and carve by slicing through in between the bones and serving as cutlets.
It is really easy to overcook this crown roast, so I would highly recommend using a food thermometer to get this just right. For rare, cook until the centre of the thickest part of the meat reaches 50 C and allow a resting time of 20 minutes, for medium rare cook until the meat reaches 60 C then rest for 10 minutes, for medium (with a touch of pink) cook to 65 C and rest for 10 minutes, for well done (no pink) cook to 75 C and juices run clear. Note that it is recommended that lamb crown roast is served medium or medium-rare.