Pommes boulangère are literally potatoes from the baker. The name comes from a practice centuries ago in rural areas of France when people did not always have an oven in their house. They would wrap up a roast on top of some potatoes with herbs, stock and onions and drop it off at the local baker on their way to work or church. When they returned, the meal would be perfectly done.
In this recipe, the ingredients are started separately on the stove. The potatoes and shallots are lightly caramelized. The lamb is seared and then roasted on top of a layer of potatoes and shallots in the oven, allowing the flavor of the lamb to enhance the potatoes. A persillade or chopped herbs, garlic and olive oil is added to both the lamb chops and the potatoes. The lamb chops in this recipe come from a rack of New Zealand lamb. New Zealand and Australian lamb tend to be entirely grass fed and smaller than an American rack of lamb. The size of a New Zealand rack of lamb is perfect for 2 people. I like to use a New Zealand rack of lamb primarily because of it’s taste. In my view it tastes more like lamb. But it is also substantially cheaper than an American rack of lamb. Costco and Trader Joe’s both have very good quality New Zealand and Australian lamb at equally good prices.
The potatoes in this recipe are loosely adapted from the concept of potatoes boulangère. If you would like to prepare the actual dish you might try Laura Calder’s recipe for “Pommes De Terre a la Boulangère : Potatoes a la Bakery”. (Link to the video and recipe) The rack of lamb is cut into 4 double- rib lamb chops in this recipe. This allows you to easily cook the lamb to rare or medium rare, while still having a well seared exterior.
1 pound Yukon Gold potatoes or similar waxy potato, thinly sliced, on a mandolin or with a very sharp knife. You can peel them if you prefer, but do not rinse
(8 rib) trimmed & Frenched rack of lamb, preferably organic, free range and from New Zealand, about 1 to 1 1/4 to pounds, cut into 4 double-rib lamb chops
4 oz diced Pancetta
6 cloves of garlic, or to taste, peeled and thinly sliced
4 sprigs of fresh thyme, leaves removed and finely chopped
2 sprigs of fresh rosemary, leaves removed and finely chopped
8 to 10 sprigs of fresh flat-leaf Italian parsley, leaves removed and finely chopped
4 shallots, peeled and sliced lengthwise
1/2 cup of lamb or chicken stock
Extra-virgin olive oil Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Preheat the oven to 400oF.
Add the sliced garlic in a mortar and pestle with a pinch of sea salt. (you can also prepare the herb paste in a mini food processor or mash by hand with a fork) Mash the garlic into a paste, add the thyme, rosemary and parsley and combine with the garlic paste. Slowly add about 3 or four tablespoons of olive oil and stir to combine with the pestle.
Warm the lamb stock over medium-low heat on the stove.
Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a sauté or frying pan over medium heat and add the the pancetta. Cook slowly until the fat from the pancetta melts into the olive oil.
Add the sliced potatoes and shallots to the pan and lightly stir to help them absorb the flavor from the pancetta.
Add additional oil if needed. Continue cooking until the potatoes start to soften and the edges start to caramelize, about 10 to 15 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in about 1/2 of the herb garlic mixture and the warm lamb stock. Stir to coat the potatoes and shallots. Layer them in a baking dish large enough to hold the potatoes and the 4 double-rib lamb chops on top of the potatoes.
Put the potatoes in the preheated oven and let them roast while you prepare the lamb. The potatoes will need about 25 to 30 minutes to finish cooking.
This is about the same time needed for searing and then roasting a small double- rib New Zealand chop to medium rare. But the potatoes can cook a bit longer if you need additional time to finish roasting the lamb chops.
While the potatoes are roasting, heat about a tablespoon of oil in a 12-inch sauté or skillet over medium-high heat. Season the lamb chops with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste. Place the lamb in the pan, fat side down, and sear until the fat has rendered and it is golden brown, about 3 minutes. Continue to sear the lamb, turning to cook evenly on each side, about 2 minutes per side.
Place the lamb chops on a cutting board and brush the remaining herb and garlic mixture on the fat side of the meat.
Remove the potatoes from the oven and arrange the lamb on top.
Return to the oven and roast until the lamb chops reach your desired level of doneness. The lamb should have an internal temperature of 125oF for rare, 130oF for medium rare, 140oF for medium, and 150oF for medium well, using a meat thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the meat, away from the bone. You should also remove the lamb a bit before you reach your preferred temperature, because the meat will continue to cook while it rests.
The actual cooking time for your desired level of doneness will vary for a number of reasons, such as the actual temperature of your oven, the size of the lamb chops and whether it was grass or grain fed.
For medium rare, a small New Zealand double-rib lamb chop should take about 5 to 6 minutes to finish in the oven and about 12 to 15 minutes for medium well. A larger rib chop should roast for several additional minutes. But remember that temperature trumps time. The important thing is to use the time as a guide, but check the actual temperature with an instant read meat thermometer.
Let the lamb rest for 5 to 7 minutes, loosely covered with foil before serving. The potatoes should also rest uncovered for the same amount of time.
A great dish to serve with the lamb chops is Tomatoes a La Provencale or Provencal baked tomatoes. Laura Calder has a simple recipe with a fantastic combination of tomatoes, garlic, olive oil, parsley and bread crumbs. .