Herb and Panko-Crusted Rack of Lamb with Fennel Risotto

Recipe courtesy of Lee Knaz

Lee grew up in Israel and has a fondness for the big flavors of the Mediterranean. After serving time in the Israeli army, Lee packed his bags and moved to Los Angeles to cultivate his passion for healthy cuisine. For his signature dish, he created a perfectly cooked rack of lamb with Mediterranean-influenced fennel risotto. Gordon praised the quality of Lee's lamb, admitting that, "Many professional chefs can't cook lamb precisely medium-rare." For once, the three judges could agree on something. Lee's dish was one of the best, worthy enough to secur him a spot in the next round.


For the lamb

  • 1 cup panko bread crumbs
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh sage leaves
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh rosemary leaves
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh mint leaves, plus more for garnish
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 (6-rib) Frenched racks of lamb (1 1/2 pounds each), trimmed of all but a thin layer of fat, rinsed and patted dry
  • 3 tablespoons Dijon mustard

For the risotto

  • 6 cups quality store-bought chicken broth
  • 2 whole star anise
  • 1 teaspoon coriander seeds
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 small onion, finely diced
  • 1 fennel bulb, halved, cored and sliced
  • 1 cup Arborio or carnaroli rice
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup dry white wine, such as Pinot Grigio
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese


To make the lamb

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

  2. In a wide shallow dish, combine the bread crumbs, sage, rosemary, mint and pepper flakes. Season with 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Drizzle in 2 tablespoons of the oil and rub the bread crumb mixture with your fingers to evenly moisten. Set aside.

  3. Season the lamb on all sides with a generous amount of salt and pepper. You should see the seasoning on the meat. Coat a large, wide ovenproof skillet with the remaining 2 tablespoons oil and place over medium-high heat. Lay the lamb racks in the hot oil, fat side down. Sear on all sides, turning with tongs, for 3 minutes, or until well-browned. Carefully remove the lamb from the skillet and brush the mustard all over the meat. Dredge the lamb in the bread crumb mixture, being sure to coat evenly.

  4. Return the lamb to the skillet and transfer to the oven. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the internal temperature of the lamb reads 130 degrees F when an instant read thermometer is inserted into the meat. Remove the lamb from the oven, cover with aluminum foil, and let rest before cutting into the chops.

To make the risotto

  1. In a medium pot, combine the broth, star anise, and coriander over medium-low heat and keep warm.

  2. Coat a large, deep skillet with the oil and place over medium heat. When the oil is hot, add the onion and fennel. Cook, stirring, for 4 minutes, or until the vegetables are soft. Add the rice and stir for 1 to 2 minutes, or until well-coated. Season with salt and pepper. Stir in the wine and simmer for 1 minute to evaporate the alcohol.

  3. Pour in 1 cup of the warm broth. Stir in with a wooden spoon until the rice has absorbed all of the liquid. Keep stirring while adding the broth little by little, allowing the rice to absorb the liquid before adding more. Cook for 20 minutes, or until the rice is tender but slightly firm to the bite. Remove from the heat and stir in the butter and cheese.

  4. To serve, divide the risotto among 4 plates, top with a lamb chop, and garnish with mint.

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Herb and Panko-Crusted Rack of Lamb with Fennel Risotto