Fancy a different Thanksgiving or Christmas main to the usual turkey or ham? Crown Roast of Lamb is as regal and classy as you can get when it comes to roasts for special occasions. Lamb racks are shaped and tied together to resemble a crown, making for a very impressive presentation.
It’s perfect at Easter too. Just substitute the cranberries in the stuffing with chopped apples or rhubarb. Forced rhubarb is easily available in the UK at this time of year. Unless, like me, you have frozen cranberries all year round.
How many people will a rack of lamb feed?
To an extent, it depends on the size of the rack. A small rack of lamb should feed 2 people, with 3 chops each. This recipe will feed 6-8 people.
Don’t forget that you will have vegetables and some sort of starch on the side too. If you are in the Uk, that will be the roast potatoes.
In the old photos that I took for this recipe, they were large racks, and I needed only 2 to make the crown. In these new photos, you can see that I am using 3 smaller ones.
You can cook a Crown Roast of Lamb on its own, cooking and serving the stuffing separately, or pack the stuffing in the middle, that’s completely up to you. To make it simple, you could also get your butcher to make the crown roast for you, although assembling a crown roast at home doesn’t take more than 5 – 10 minutes, depending on your dexterity!
Serve your Crown Roast with the stuffing here, alongside the usual suspects: roast potatoes, brussels sprouts and a touch of gravy for a traditional festive meal, but with a difference.
Just like the impressive 3-Bird Roast
Preparing Crown Roast of Lamb
Rack of lamb is the most expensive cut of lamb and is also known as “best end”. When you slice the rack, you are cutting it up into chops, as in lamb chops.
To cook a rack of lamb, you want all the meat and fat from around the rib bones scraped away; this is called French trimmed. If you get your meat from a butcher, get him to do it. However, if you buy it from supermarkets, chances are it will be sold French trimmed.
And worse comes to worst, it’s a simple case of using a small sharp knife, cutting and getting rid of the meat between each rib (bone), then scraping away all the fat and meat to reveal the top thin bone on the chop that you would hold if using your hands.
Make your own Crown Roast
As mentioned, you could get your butcher to do this but since assembling and tying the racks together won’t take you more than 10 minutes, I urge you to do it yourself. Why? Because I like to sear the fat layer for a nutty, caramelised flavour before assembling and roasting. That’s the first step in this recipe, and while we get all the other ingredients ready, the racks would have cooled down sufficiently on the fat side to prevent any risk of burning.
If you must, you could always remove the fat layer completely, but a roast without a layer of fat is just a little too utilitarian for my taste.
Especially during festive occasions when frills is the order of the day!
These are the steps:
- Season and brown the fat layers – 5 minutes, max
- Prepare the stuffing – 10 minutes
- Assembling the racks – 15, maybe 20 minutes
- Fill the crown – 2 minutes
- Cover tips with foil – 1 minute, max
- Cook – 30 to 45 minutes
What do you think? You game?
Crown Roast of Lamb Stuffing
I’m a huge fan of the traditional sage, onion and sausagemeat stuffing, and using this as a base, love branching out, in terms of flavour and seasoning. Here, the chilli provides a bit of excitement and the cranberries add a spectacular tangy dimension to it all, almost outshining the crown!
Use whatever sausages you like. As this is a spicy-ish stuffing, spicy sausages like chorizo and merguez would go perfectly, but because we use hot paprika and chilli flakes, any ordinary sausage will do nicely.
And as mentioned above, if cranberries aren’t available, just use a couple of chopped up apples.
How long do you cook a Crown Roast of Lamb?
Crown Roasts don’t need much time to cook at all. About 30-45 minutes, at 200˚C (390˚F), depending on whether you like your meat medium or well done. 25 minutes for medium-rare.
As we are only cooking the lamb for a short time, I like to give the stuffing a head start by par cooking it. You could just cook the stuffing separately, whether as balls or in a dish, especially if you like your stuffing crispy. However, cooking the stuffing in the crown gives you a magnificent flavour from the layer of fat, and it will also be very moist.
Taking the whole crown to the table before carving is the thing to do if you want to make a statement. If you are not serving it in the dish it was roasted, be sure to place the widest spatula you have under it as you lift and transfer as nothing is holding that stuffing up.
How to Cook Crown Roast of Lamb in Pictures
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Crown Roast of Lamb is as regal and classy as you can get when it comes to roasts for special occasions. Lamb racks are shaped and tied together to resemble a crown, making for a very impressive presentation.
- 2 racks of lamb, French trimmed
- freshly ground black pepper
- 100 g (3.5 oz) fresh cranberries
- 100 g (3.5 oz) fresh bread (about 4 slices)
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 300 g (10.5 oz) sausages of your choice
- 1 Tbsp dried sage
- 1 tsp hot smoked paprika
- 1 tsp chilli flakes
- half tsp salt
- freshly ground black pepper
You will also need
- Kitchen string
- Butcher’s thread
- Butcher’s needle
- Baking tin
Browning the racks
- Take the lamb racks and score the fatty layer with a sharp knife, cutting at an angle twice, to create diamond shapes.
- Season well with salt and pepper.
- Heat a large frying pan on high heat and brown the fat layer on each rack for 30-60 seconds pressing down. The time will depend on how strong your heat is. Do this in batches if your pan isn’t big enough.
- Leave both racks to one side to cool while you get all the other ingredients ready. Leave the frying pan as is, we’ll be using it and the fat for the stuffing.
- Place the bread in a chopper and whizz to get breadcrumbs. Place in a large bowl.
- Either by hand or in a chopper, chop up the cranberries roughly, just 2 – 3 pulses will do, you want them fairly big and course. Tip them into the bowl with the bread.
- Chop up the onions next, they don’t have to be superfine, coarse onions make for a better tasting stuffing. Place in the bowl.
- And finally, do the same with the sausages, in batches, if you have to. Chop to a semi coarse grind and place in the bowl.
- Add the sage, paprika, chilli flakes, salt and pepper and mix thoroughly using your hands.
- Remember the frying pan we browned the lamb racks in? Heat it again, over medium high heat. You only need about 1 tablespoon of oil, tip the rest out if you have too much.
- Fry the stuffing for about 3 minutes, stirring to ensure everything heats evenly. Leave aside until needed.
Assembling the Crown
- Preheat the oven to 200˚C (390˚F).
- Thread your butcher’s needle. Keep the kitchen string ready and scissors at hand.
- Take a sharp knife and cut little slits on the lower end of the lamb racks between each chop, on the meat side, not the fat side. The meat side will be on the outside and the slits allow the racks to bend and form a crown.
- Stand the 2 lamb racks on the baking tin you’ll be using, with the ends touching each other.
- Sew each end of the lamb rack to the one next to it, as in the pictures. Be sure to thread through before thee last chop bone. This will stop the thread from being released when the meat naturally shrinks as it cooks. Do this for all thee ends, shaping the lamb racks into a circle as much as is possible, when you’re doing the last 2.
- If you are not sewing the base, get your kitchen string and tie along the base of the crown, as tightly as you can. I’ve done both, to give you an idea. As the lamb cooks, it will shrink somewhat and the string will loosen, so bear this in mind, the tighter, the better.
- Tie another string halfway up the bones, to help keep the shape. **Sewing the base creates a better formed and sturdier crown, which means that you can also not bother with the unsightly string.
- If you like, you could tie the two end bones of each rack together, this can also help keep the round shape. Only if you are not tying the base.
- That’s it. Pack the stuffing into the middle of the crown, I like to create a mound with it, but you can leave it flat, if you like.
- Depending on the size of your racks, you may have some spare stuffing. Shape them into little balls (ping pong balls size) and add them to the roasting tin 20 minutes from the end. OR, fry up your sprouts with it.
- Cover the ends of the bones with a little foil, to stop them burning.
Cooking the Crown
- Roast in the oven for 30 minutes for medium, or 45 minutes for well done. Take the foil off the bones 10 minutes before the end of cooking time.
- When done, take the crown out of the oven and cover the whole thing with a large piece of foil, then a tea towel, and leave to rest for 15 minutes before carving and serving as described above.
- Category: Christmas
- Cuisine: British