Rack of Lamb with Pasilla Chiles

The chiles add a touch of spice to this perfectly cooked rack of lamb.

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  • Servings: 4

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  • 6 unpeeled garlic cloves
  • 6 pasilla chiles (see Note), seeded
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon Mexican dried oregano
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cumin
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • Two 8-bone racks of lamb (not frenched), fat trimmed
  • Olive oil, for grilling
  • Chopped red onion and parsley and queso añejo (see Note), for garnish

How to make this recipe

  1. Heat a cast-iron skillet or griddle. Add the garlic and toast over moderate heat until the skin is blackened in spots, 10 minutes.

  2. Meanwhile, toast the pasillas in the skillet: Press with a spatula and turn once, until pliable and fragrant, 1 minute. Transfer the chiles to a heatproof bowl and cover with hot water. Microwave at high power for 1 minute, until the chiles are completely rehydrated.

  3. Transfer the chiles to a blender and add 1/3 cup of their soaking liquid. Peel the garlic and add to the blender with the honey, vinegar, oregano, cumin, 1 teaspoon of salt and 1/4 teaspoon of pepper. Puree, then strain.

  4. Rub the lamb with 1/3 cup of the puree. Let stand for 2 hours or refrigerate overnight.

  5. In a small saucepan, simmer the remaining puree with 1/4 cup of water; keep warm.

  6. Light a grill and oil the grates. Grill the lamb over moderately high heat, turning and rotating the racks, until lightly charred outside and an instant-read thermometer inserted in the center of the meat registers 135° for medium-rare, 30 minutes; move the meat to moderate heat if it starts to burn. Transfer the lamb to a carving board; let rest for 5 minutes. Carve the lamb into chops and garnish with chopped red onion, parsley and queso añejo. Serve with the pasilla sauce.


Pasilla chiles are long, black dried chiles. Queso añejo is a dry grating cheese; cotija or ricotta salata are good substitutes.

Suggested Pairing

Smoky, berry-rich Argentinean Malbec.

Contributed By Photo © Antonis Achilleos Published July 2011

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