During my visit to Morocco I found myself consumed with finding the perfect recipe for the spice known as Ras el Hanout, a popular blend translating to “top shelf” in Arabic — top shelf referring to the highest quality spices in a merchant’s larder. It gives tagine, b’stilla and marinades that quintessentially “Moroccan” flavor we’ve all come to crave. I racked my brain and asked many home cooks and professional chefs for their secret, and they always smiled and diverted their gaze. I finally came up with a delicious version, with a little help from an unsuspecting local who shared his lamb stew and some of his special ingredients while playing us his sitar. I serve this Marrakesh Sitar lamb with chermoula — a herb-centric sauce centered around parsley, cilantro and mint — and glazed carrots.
Prep time: ~ 12 hours (overnight marinade)
Cook time: 45-60 minutes
Sheet pan or roasting pan fitted with wire rack, Large heavy-bottomed cast iron pan, Tongs
- 2–3 lb rack of lamb
- 1–2 Tbsp Marrakesh Sitar
- Kosher salt
- Oil to coat pan
- 3 Tbsp butter
- Chermoula Yogurt Sauce
- Season lamb with salt and Marrakesh Sitar. Place on a wire rack over a sheet pan in the refrigerator overnight. Leaving it uncovered dries out the exterior for searing.
- Heat oven to 200°F (convection preferred) and roast, fat side up, until thickest part reads 115°F, 35–55 minutes. Roast over wire rack for best results.
- Remove from oven and let rest for 10 minutes.
- Heat a cast iron skillet to very high heat and add a splash of oil to coat the bottom.
- Sear lamb on all sides, flipping frequently to brown all edges, but being careful not to burn the spices, about 5 minutes.
- Turn off heat and add butter. Baste for about 2 min or until internal temperature reads 125–130°F for medium rare.
- Remove from pan and rest for about one minute. Slice between chops or double chops.
- Serve with Glazed Carrots.
- Top with Chermoula Yogurt Sauce
Things to remember
- Seasoning the meat the day before and leaving uncovered over a wire rack dries out the exterior of the meat which aids in browning, helps retain moisture and seasons the meat throughout with salt but even a few hours is better than nothing
- Variations in size and thickness of the rack of lamb accounts for the variation in cook time — use a reliable meat thermometer to be sure
- Letting the meat rest ensures all the juices will be retained and the meat will not overcook during the final reverse sear
- Basting helps coat your final result with all those beautiful juices and fats
- Roasting over a wire rack helps the heat circulate around the meat, aiding in even cooking and browning but you can also use a oven pan.