As predicted, rack of lamb day was the best day of the summer. I managed to pull the whole dish off with no disasters, and only an hour behind schedule, in large part due to the fact that I started cooking at 345 even though I didn't think I had to start cooking until 500.
The festivities begin with the mis en place. I rinsed, scrubbed, and chopped all the ingredients into their proper forms:
In this photo you can see the onions for the onion rings (I used my quasi-mandolin for extremely thin slices!), the bread, rosemary, thyme, and parsley for the lamb's crust, the yams and apples for the mashed yams, and the butter for the red wine sauce. There was almost a pound of butter in the sauce, and only 2/3 cup of liquid, so it was quite rich. Already, you can see we are on the path to success!
Next, I butchered the lamb:
I laid into this meat with one of my small, sharp knives! It was quite a gruesome experience, sawing the fat away from the softer flesh that it was attached to while trying to treat the meat that was staying on the rack delicately so as to not lose too much of it in the butchering. I loved it! The lamb was frozen when I got it from the butcher, so I was a little worried that it wouldn't be fresh enough, but it smelled amazing at this point, especially alongside the smell of the thyme I had just minced in the kitchen and the wine and port sauce which was boiling to reduce.
On the finished plate, the lamb chops are on top of the mashed yams, with the fried onions on top of the lamb chops, and the red wine sauce over it all:
Really I think this may have been one of the best meals I've ever had in my life, probably at least in part because it was flavored with the satisfaction of having cooked it myself for me and my friends. The flavor profile was so sophisticated! There were a lot of taste combinations going on on this plate: the sweetness of the yams, the alcohol in the wine sauce, the rare meat, the herbs, the crispy, acidy, fried onions, and each seemed to blend into the next to ultimately produce a complex, multi-layered, taste EXPLOSION! It looks pretty good, too. :D I had two portions!
I had two different cuts of the lamb: a frenched rack and a short rack. It's hard for me to figure out which I liked better, as the short rack was a bigger piece of meat than the frenched rack, so it turned out to be a little rarer than the frenched rack, which I liked, although I think the actual meat on the frenched rack at least had the illusion of being more tender. I'm not actually sure if both cuts come from exactly the same part of the animal though, so my preference for the frenched rack could be an illusion. What's not an illusion is that the frenched chops look AMAZING (those are what are pictured here), compared to the short rack which was much harder to remove the cooked meat from; the short rack seemed to have some sort of bone which ran along the entire horizontal length, making it difficult to cut into chops.
The video of me eating the first bite is here, and it comes highly recommended. LM is the photographer, and she did a great job! I have to thank the friends that came over to share this meal with me (especially TM, who helped with the fried onions and helped me continue to work on conquering my fear that I am going to burn my house down in an oil fire), because food this good can't reach it's full potential without good company!