Splendid Table: Ribs, fat add flavor to a rack of lamb

"Frenching" is done mainly for appearance and handling ease.

Q Our big treat is rack of lamb, and we found a local, organic, grass-fed source. But the rack came with all the ribs attached with their meat and fat, instead of the meat and fat scraped off the ribs, which is called "frenching." Is frenching merely for aesthetics, or is it necessary to cook the rack correctly?

A Frenching is not necessary to cook your treat. It's purely for appearances, and ease for those who like to pick up their chops. For my taste, I like all the meat and a thin layer of fat to stay on those ribs. At the prices we pay for this cut, don't waste a gram. Besides, by not frenching the rib bones you get two distinctive lamb experiences -- the heart of the rib eye that's all luxurious succulence, and the crisp, chewy primal rustic rib.

Need quick hits?

Q My wife and I never have the same schedule two weeks in a row, and we work different shifts. This makes it hard for us to cook and have good meals most nights of the week.

Where can we find recipes that we can cook en masse, freeze and heat up as needed? We want to be able to have good meals at home, as well as take our own lunches to work to save money and eat better.

A Soups, stews and braises usually freeze beautifully, so you have a raft of possibilities. To eat healthier, stay with recipes using meat as a flavoring rather than the main ingredient. Ones without meat that, instead, capitalize on whole grains and beans are even better.

Some authors who focus on little or no meat and write good-tasting, sound recipes are Deborah Madison ("Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone" and other titles) and Louisa Shafia ("Lucid Food"). For real-life practical cooking when you are hungry and have little time, look at "Mad Hungry" by Lucinda Scala Quinn.

Another solution is to roast a pile of vegetables, so on their own they taste great. For lunches to take to work, heap some on whole-grain rolls that you've rubbed with garlic and sprinkled with oil and vinegar, then top each sandwich with a little cheese -- Cheddar, mozzarella or feta.

One evening, turn the vegetables into a fast supper by heating them in a spicy bean sauté and then serving them over barley or rice. Lynne Rossetto Kasper hosts "The Splendid Table" radio show from American Public Media, and is the co-author of "The Splendid Table's How to Eat Supper." Reach her at www.splendidtable.org.

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