The gustatory folly known as crown roast, made by grafting two or more racks in a ring, forcing the ribs to arch up and out like the spikes of a crown, is more impressive than it is difficult, and it is one of the few grand celebratory presentations that feed a crowd and spend less than an hour roasting. The speedy cooking time is due to its form. Because of the center hole, heat is able to reach all sides of the meat, so regardless of how many racks you use to form the crown, the roast never takes much longer to cook than a single rack would. The only thing that will slow it down is stuffing the center, which blocks the heat circulation. For that reason we recommend grilling the stuffing around the roast and filling the center just before you bring it to the table.
Prep: 30 to 45 minutes (plus 5 minutes for rub)
Grill: About 45 minutes.
BBQ TOOLS AND EQUIPMENT
– Grill screen or grill pizza pan
– Heavy-duty aluminum foil
– Heat-resistant bowl, about 6 inches in diameter, to support the center of the roast
– 2 sturdy long-handled spatulas.
– A frenched rack of lamb is one in which the meat, fat, and membrane from the ends of the rib bones have been stripped away, exposing about 2 inches of cleaned bare bone, which can be used as a handle when eating the lamb chops.
TYING A CROWN
Most butchers will be happy to assemble a crown roast for you, but if you want to do it yourself, you will need:
– Heavy-duty thread (or thin, sturdy kitchen twine)
– Large needle with a large eye, preferably curved (an upholstery needle works great)
– Heavy-duty cotton kitchen twine
– 2 to 3 racks of lamb, frenched.
1. On the nonmeaty side of the racks, make small slits into the meat (no more than½ inch long and¼ inch deep) between the ends of the bones. These slits will spread open when the rack is curved into a crown.
2. Butt the end of one rack up to another. Using the bones as anchors, sew the ends together, using as few stitches as possible. Repeat with as many racks as you are using.
3. Stand the sewn racks so that the cleaned ends of the bones are pointing upward. Bend the meat into a ring, with the meaty side facing inward. As the ring forms, the rib bones will arch outward. To close the ring, tie the ends together, using the bones as anchors. Stitch as needed to secure them in place. When complete, the tied roast resembles a crown (see illustration).
Indirect heat, medium (325° to 350°F)
3- or 4-burner grill-middle burner(s) off
2-burner grill-1 side off Clean, oiled grate
Indirect heat, medium ash
Split charcoal bed (about 2 dozen coals per side)
20 replacement coals
Charcoal: 20 replacement coals
Heavy-duty drip pan set between banks of charcoal
Clean, oiled grate on medium setting.
INGREDIENTS (MAKES 9 TO 13 SERVINGS – 2 TO 3 RIBS PER SERVING)
1 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves
½ cup fresh mint leaves
2 tablespoons fresh rosemary leaves
1 head (about 25 cloves) garlic, coarsely chopped
1 tablespoon Provençal Herb Rub
¾ cup extra-virgin olive oil
5 Calimyrna figs, hard stem ends removed, coarsely chopped
3 racks of lamb, about 1½ pounds each, frenched and tied into a crown roast (see Tip, and “Tying a Crown,” right)
3½ to 4 pounds fingerling or new potatoes, washed and dried, halved if large
Oil for coating grill grate and screen.
1. Put the parsley, mint, rosemary, and garlic in a food processor and chop finely (or you can chop them by hand). Add the herb rub and olive oil and process just until combined. Remove all but 2 tablespoons to a bowl. Add the figs and process until finely chopped. Put in another bowl.
2. Heat the grill as directed.
3. Using a thin-bladed knife, make a hole in the meaty part of the lamb right in front of each rib. Stick your pinky into the holes to widen them, and fill the holes with the fig mixture. Wrap small squares of foil around the exposed bones to keep them from scorching.
4. Toss the potatoes with 1/3 cup of the herb mixture and rub the remaining herb mixture all over the meaty parts of the lamb. Oil the grill screen and put the lamb in the center. Insert the heat-resistant bowl in the center of the crown to help it hold its shape.
5. Brush the grill grate and coat it with oil. Put the roast (on the screen) on the grill away from the heat, cover, and cook for 15 minutes. Put the potatoes around the roast directly over the fire, cover, and cook for 15 minutes more. Remove the bowl from the center of the crown, and turn the potatoes. Cover and cook until an instant-read thermometer inserted into a thick part of the meat registers about 130°F and the potatoes are browned and tender, about 15 minutes more. If your grill has a temperature gauge, it should stay between 350° and 375°F.
6. Using 2 spatulas, remove the roast to a large serving platter. Remove the string, and fill the center of the ring with the potatoes, if desired for presentation. Cut into chops, removing any string or thread from the lamb. Carve and serve.