Executive Chef at both the Southern Cross Grill in downtown Ottawa and of Smokie Ridge Vineyard in South Mountain, Chef Phil Morneault receives rave reviews from those who sample his grilled fare. He’s a master of pairing wines with food, not only as an accompaniment, but also in grilling.
Chef Phil Morneault recognizes that there’s a fine line between a great lamb dish and one that leaves the diner wishing they had ordered something else. “There are a few key things to remember to make it great,” he says. First on his list: marinating. “Marinate, marinate, marinate,” he reiterates. “Use a rich alcohol like cognac or calvados, then add some fresh peppercorns.” He warns not to soak the lamb rack but instead place it in a container and “let the alcohol vapors do the marinating for at least 24 hours in the fridge.”
Once the lamb has done its time in the marinade, its ready to sizzle. “Use your barbecue as an oven, heating it to 450 degrees.” If your grill comes equipped with it, he suggests turning the middle burner down and placing the lamb there.
The perfect rack of lamb is grilled until it’s medium rare, a tip Chef Morneault gives with the following word of warning: “Never cook a rack of lamb past medium unless you enjoy inedible food.”
When you’ve reached the mark of medium rare, remove the rack of lamb from the heat. Chef Morneault gives the final cooking tip: “Allow the lamb to rest for 15 minutes, tented with tinfoil [before cutting in].” He wraps things up with an enthusiastic, “Bon appetite!”