Za’atar is a pungent spice mix popular in the Levant, usually made by mixing ground dried thyme, oregano, & marjoram with toasted sesame seeds, salt, & sumac. Preassembled mixes can be purchased at many Arabic, Greek, or Indian grocery stores. Here, it is incorporated with cumin, paprika, ground mustard, and olive oil to make an aromatic rub for a rack of lamb. Other dry or wet rubs of any kind can be substituted in lieu of za’atar – even just salt & pepper would be sufficient.
Roasting a rack of lamb is fairly straightforward, and the main challenge is to adequately sear its irregular, contoured surface. One solution is to sear the fat pad on a hot cast iron skillet while liberally using a powerful kitchen blowtorch to fill in the uneven surfaces. Alternatively, a short broil can be done just before serving.
RACK OF LAMB // ZA’ATAR-SPICED RUB
- Rack of lamb
- Rub ingredients: salt, white pepper, za’atar, cumin, paprika, onion powder, garlic powder, and ground mustard)
- 4-5 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Preheat the oven to 300F. Meanwhile, heat a small amount of oil in a cast iron skillet and place the rack of lamb, fat cap side down, to render and sear the fat. Making even passes with a blowtorch, sear the top of the rack and the portions that are not making contact with the skillet, being careful not to char the meat.
Prepare a rub of za’atar, cumin, paprika, ground mustard, onion powder, garlic powder, salt, and pepper in a 4-5 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil. Mix evenly and use a brush to generously apply the rub on the seared lamb.
Roast the rack, fatty side up, for 30 minutes. Slice the rack between the bones, season generously with salt & pepper, and serve immediately with basmati rice or flatbread.