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Lamb Crown Roast

Pull out all the stops this Easter Holiday with this majestic centerpiece, fit for kings!  It is made by attaching two racks of lamb end-to-end to form a crown.  Order it from your butcher with the ribs already French-trimmed and tied into a crown, or do it yourself at home – it is easier than you think!

The lamb is going to cost you a pretty penny, so it is worth pulling out all the stops with the presentation as well by decorating your crown roast with paper caps, also known as Turkey Booties or Chop Frills. Its sole purpose is to cover up the unsightly ends of the bones. They look a lot like miniature chefs’ hats, and can be frilled or rounded at the top (see photo below).

± 1.5 kg lamb ribs, French-trimmed by your butcher (6 to 8 ribs each)


30 ml olive oil
5 ml salt
2.5 ml freshly ground black pepper
10 ml crushed garlic
30 ml rosemary or thyme, finely chopped

30 ml cake flour
250 ml lamb stock
100 ml red wine
salt to taste

Couscous Side Dish
250 g couscous
250 ml boiling water
2.5 ml beef stock powder
10 ml olive oil
30 g butter
30 ml parsley, finely chopped
50 g pistachio’s or pine nuts
50 g raisins or cranberries

  1. Transfer the lamb to a large dish that will hold the ribs in a single layer and set it aside.
  2. Combine the ingredients for the marinade in a measuring jug and mix well.
  3. Brush the marinade onto the lamb racks. Do not let any of the marinade get onto the exposed rib bones.
  4. Cover the dish with cling wrap and let it marinate in the fridge for at least 2 hours or for up to 12 hours.
  5. When ready to roast the lamb, preheat the oven to 220 ° C.
  6. Cut a few pieces of butcher’s twine (75 cm each) and set it aside.
  7. Transfer the lamb racks to a roasting pan fitted with a rack or place it into a Bundt pan or ring pan with the center of the pan coming up through the middle of the roast.
  8. Bend each rack into a semicircle (meat side in and fat side out) and tie them together at the base and center with the  twine in order to hold the racks together. The aim is to push the rib ends outward to create the look of a crown.
  9. Cover the ends of all the bones with foil to avoid burning.
  10. Roast the lamb for 12 minutes for every 500 grams, i.e. 20 minutes for 1 kg, 30 minutes for 1.5 kg and 40 minutes for 2 kg, etc.
  11. To make the gravy, combine the cake flour and a little of the stock in a saucepan and make a paste.  Add the rest of the liquid  and bring it to a boil.
  12. Once the gravy has thickened, adjust the seasoning if necessary and transfer it to a gravy boat.
  13. To make the couscous, combine the water, oil and stock powder in a mixing bowl.
  14. Add the couscous and mix well.
  15. Cover with a lid or cling wrap and set the couscous aside for 5 minutes.
  16. After 5 minutes, loosen the couscous with a fork and stir in the nuts, rains and parsley.
  17. The the couscous aside until the lamb is ready.
  18. Check the lamb for done-ness by inserting a meat thermometer into the thickest part of the roast – be careful not to let the thermometer touch any of the bones. See the guidelines for reading a meat thermometer below.
  19. Transfer the lamb to a serving platter and remove the twine.
  20. Spoon the couscous into the middle of the crown and garnish the roast with fresh herbs and paper frills (optional). See method for home-made paper frills below.
  21. Cover the lamb with foil and set it aside to rest for 20 minutes.
  22. To serve, cut the crown in-between the bones – 2 to 3 chops per person.
  23. Serve the lamb with the gravy and couscous.

The couscous can be substituted with pilaf, roasted vegetables, etc.

Based on Alton Brown’s recipe For Lamb Crown Roast.
Photo credit:

Below is a reference chart for the corresponding temperatures before any resting time.

  • Rare: 50°C (115 to 120°F)
  • Medium-rare: 52°C (120 to 125°F)
  • Medium: 55°C (130 to 135°F)
  • Medium-well: 60°C (140 to 145°F)
  • Well-done: 70°C (150 to 155°F)

No matter which done-ness you take your lamb to, keep in mind that letting the lamb rest for a few minutes will yield juicier meat, and some carryover cooking will occur that will take the internal temperature of the meat up by a few more degrees.

I have not been able to find a supplier for Paper Frills also known as Chop Frills, in South Africa. If you have, please let me know!  Better yet, make your own!  See the instructions below.  The Chop Frills can be used on whole roasted chicken, turkey or duck. Also on lamb or pork chops.

Home-made Paper Frills

  1. Fold an A4 paper in halve lengthwise and cut it on the fold line so that you have two long strips.
  2. Fold each strip lengthwise.
  3. Create a fringe by making vertical cuts along the fold line.
  4. Open up the paper and fold it back over itself in the opposite direction.
  5. Wrap one end of the strip over your finger and cut where the ends overlap.
  6. Secure with tape and fluff out the fringe a bit so that they puff out.
  7. Continue until you have made enough frills for each of the ribs in your crown roast.