A Perfect Spring Rack

5 03 2011

March enters like a lion. As it exists like a lamb the arrival of spring is heralded. What could be better to usher in the springtime than to greet it with a perfect rack, of lamb. This delectable dish could also use lovely lamb loin chops or even Saratoga chops-rack or loin- it just depends on your preference.

We glaze the lamb with a lovely mix of springtime flavors like cherries and fresh herbs. The lamb rests on a bed of tender couscous and springtime vegetables like peas.

Balsamic Cherry Glazed Lamb

  • 1 rack of lamb, or 8 lamb loin chops (Saratoga chops also work well)
  • 1 Tbs butter
  • 1 shallot, chopped
  • 6 oz fresh, pitted or 4 oz dried cherries
  • 1/3 cup Cherry Kijafa (or other cherry liqueur)
  • ¼ cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tsp dry mustard
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 sprig of rosemary

If using dried cherries, let them sit in the liquid for an hour before preparation. Heat the butter in a medium saucepan and melt over medium heat. Add the shallot and soften, 2-3 minutes. Add the rest of the ingredients and simmer for fifteen minutes, the liquid should reduce by ¼ to 1/3.  Remove the rosemary and cinnamon. Using an immersion blender or in small batches in a blender or food processor puree the mixture. It will resemble a thin paste. Remove and coat the lamb. Grill the lamb until done, allow to rest, slice and serve.

Springtime Couscous

  • 2 Tbs olive oil
  • 2 cups couscous, preferably Israeli type
  • 2 ½ cups chicken stock
  • 1 cup fresh peas (frozen is OK)
  • 1 cup baby carrots cut into a small dice
  • 8oz pearl onions, peeled
  • 1 Tbs mint, finely chopped

In a medium sauté pan heat 1 Tbs olive oil. Add the couscous and lightly toast, stirring frequently about 3 minutes. While the couscous is toasting, bring the stock to a boil. Remove the couscous and place in a large bowl, add the stock and cover for 8-10 minutes. While the couscous is finishing, heat the remaining 1 Tbs of olive oil and add the onions and cook for 2-3 minutes. Add the carrots, cook for another minute and then add the peas and cook for another 1-2 minutes. Remove and add to the couscous mixture. Add chopped mint and mix well. Season as needed with salt and pepper.


Dijon & Citron-Honey Mead Lamb Chops

10 12 2010

Grilled meat is great any time of year. So is mead, serve chilled during the warmer weather and mulled with spices during the colder. No doubt one of man’s most ancient alcoholic brews, mead was used as a medicinal tonic being derived from healthful honey. Together the grilled meat and lamb form a sweet natural pair straight from the pasture. I love serving grilled lamb loin chops because each delectable chop serves as its own portion control (I use 2 small chops per person). The delicate lamb flavor is accentuated with a dash of Dijon and citrus-honey and thyme notes from the mead reduction. A drizzle of reduction prior to serving brings the flavors of the meadow to the palate.

Dijon & Citron-Honey Mead Lamb Chops

  • Lamb Loin Chops
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • 2 Tbs Citron, Thyme and Honey Mead Reduction (recipe follows)
  • 1 Tbs Dijon Mustard
  • Thyme leaves for garnish

Season the lamb with salt and pepper. Combine the mead reduction and Dijon mustard and coat both sides of the chops. Grill the chops until rare, medium rare. Allow the chops to rest, then drizzle with additional mead reduction, garnish and serve.

 Citron, Thyme and Honey Mead Reduction

  • 1 Tbs Honey
  • 2 ½ cups Mead (Honey Wine)
  • 1 cup sliced citron
  • ¾ oz fresh thyme sprigs

Mead can be found in most places that sell wine. If you do not have citron (also known as Buddha’s hand or Buddha’s fingers) you can substitute thin lemon slices. Combine all ingredients, bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer to reduce the volume by 2/3. Filter through a fine mesh sieve. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

Wood Grill Pizza Redux

8 11 2010

Here’s another variation of toppings: Creamed Spinach with Grilled Lamb

South African 5 Spice Rubbed Rack of Lamb

15 06 2010

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Grilling season is upon us. I love the smell of the grill as it sears some tasty meats. A very simple way to get some exotic and subtle flavors into your grilled meats is with a simple rub. Here I use Doc’s South African 5 Spice Blend (recipe in right side bar under “Recipes”) and allow that to sit on the rack of lamb for several hours; much like the dry rub technique for Southern Barbeque, albeit with a different cooking method. The nice thing about the rack of lamb is you can serve one as an appetizer, or several and make a meal of it. Make sure you allow the meat to rest to guarentee a flavorful and juicy chop-enjoy!

African 5 Spice Rubbed Rack of Lamb

  • Rack of Lamb
  • Doc’s South African 5 Spice Blend

Rub the rack generously with the 5 spice blend. Allow to rest at least 6 hours, preferably overnight. Grill until done, rest and serve.

Grilled Lamb Zataar and Roasted Red Beet Risotto

25 05 2010

Zataar is a Middle Eastern spice blend. There is a fantastic explanation and series of recipes on it over at A Taste of Beirut. I was fortunate to get a sample of the real deal from my friend Joumana. A great way to experience a spice profile is to stick with dishes that are simply prepared, dishes in which the spices themselves are forefront and center. I chose to coat a fresh rack of lamb in the Zataar and grill it. Perfection is sometimes knowing when not to do too much. The Zataar adds a subtle exotic herb and sesame note that works perfectly with the grilled meat. We served this meal with the classic risotto preparation, but added two roasted red beets at the end. The beets added a subtle earthiness and an additional textural component that married well with the lamb, not to mention a visually stunning addition to the plate. Serve this with an acidic white (like champagne or chardonnay) or a red with some backbone to cut through the richness of the dish’s components. This is a thirty minute meal worthy of being on any restaurant menu.