"My dinners at home are startlingly simple," Marilyn Monroe once said in an interview with Pageant Magazine. "Every night, I stop at the market near my hotel and pick up a steak, lamb chops or some liver, which I broil in the electric oven in my room. I usually eat four or five raw carrots with my meat, and that is all. I must be part rabbit; I never get bored with raw carrots."
I used to resist cooking lamb—maybe because it was never a part of my diet growing up—until I read that interview. I thought to myself: If Marilyn could subsist on the other red meat, then I could too. Surely it must be worthy enough to forgive the raw carrots (which I hate).
It may be that lamb has yet to fully make its way into the home cook's kitchen in the States, not least because it can be more expensive than beef and often harder to find. Growing up in the suburbs of Atlanta, for instance, I remember how hard it was to get my hands on lamb in any form at my local grocery store. Thank goodness it's more readily available now, and that more and more Americans are acquiring a taste for it—because when cooked well, lamb can be really delicious.
How to Cook Lamb
What's important to know about lamb is that it's really not so different than beef. And when you have a gorgeous cut, like a rack of lamb, you can cook it the good ol' Gordon Ramsay way—which is to say, lightly pan-sear it first, then baste it with an herby, garlicky butter, and finally finish it off in the oven until it's still pink and juicy in the middle. Comes out perfectly every time.
Eric Kim is a senior editor at Food52, where his solo dining column, Table for One, runs Friday mornings. Formerly the managing editor at Food Network and a PhD candidate in literature at Columbia University, he writes about food, travel, and culture and lives in a tiny shoebox in Manhattan with his dog, Quentin "Q" Compson. His favorite writers are William Faulkner, John Steinbeck, and Ernest Hemingway, but his hero is Nigella Lawson. You can follow him on Twitter @ericjoonho.