For 27 years, Gordon Hamersley and his wife Fiona welcomed guests to their Boston institution, Hamersley’s Bistro. Their roast chicken (who orders chicken when fine dining?) has a cult following, but it is this lamb dish plate that was the darling of the menu. Gordon Hamersley retired and this South End gem closed its doors forever in October 2014. Since then, we have made this lamb every year at the holidays. The smokiness of the dried ancho chile, the heat of the curry powder, the sweetness of the dates, and the well, nuttiness of the almonds merry into a paste with a decadent depth of flavor. A simple green salad and a luscious Bordeaux wine such as Pauillac from Ninety Plus Cellars, are all that is needed for a celebratory meal with friends and family gathered together to enjoy a feast that satisfies all of the senses. 

cuisine American
difficulty Moderate
season Holiday
serves 4 to 6


  • 1 ancho chile, stem and seeds removed
  • 5 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons curry powder
  • 12 dates, pitted and chopped
  • 4 tablespoons sherry vinegar
  • 1 1/2 cups chicken broth
  • Two 7 or 8 bone lamb racks, frenched
  • 1/2 cup slivered almonds, toasted and chopped
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Whole mint leaves for garnish


  1. Soak the chile in hot water until softened, about 15 minutes. Chop the chile coarsely. Heat 3 tablespoons of the oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until soft. Lower the heat to medium-low and add the curry powder. Continue to cook, stirring frequently, until the onion is browned, about 20 minutes.
  2. Put the onion, ancho chile, dates, and sherry vinegar in the bowl of a food processor and process until a paste forms. Transfer the paste to a bowl, mix in the almonds and the chopped mint, and season with salt and pepper.
  3. Heat the oven to 425 degrees F. Season the lamb all over with salt and pepper. Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil in a large sauté pan over high heat. Brown the lamb, one rack at a time, meat side down first. Turn and brown the other side. Remove the lamb from the pan, but do not clean the pan.
  4. Allow the lamb to cool for a few minutes. Set aside 1/4 cup of the chile-date mixture. Spread a thin layer of the chile-date on the meat side of each rack of lamb.
  5. Arrange the lamb in a roasting pan, preferably one with a rack, with the chile-date mixture facing up. Roast the lamb until a meat thermometer registers 130 degrees for medium rare (15 to 20 minutes). Remove the lamb to a cutting board, cover loosely with foil, and allow the meat to rest for 5 minutes.
  6. Pour off any excess fat from the sauté pan. Add the chicken broth to the pan and cook over high heat, scraping up the browned bits on the bottom of the pan, until the broth is reduced by half. Add the reserved 1/4 cup chili-date mixture to the sauce and whisk to combine. Season with salt and pepper.
  7. Slice the lamb rack into one or two bone chops, and serve 3 to 4 chops per person. If you cut the chops apart, be careful not to let too much of the date crust fall off the meat.
  8. Spoon some of the sauce around the chops and garnish with whole mint leaves. Serve immediately or at room temperature.