First, some mood music, open this link and let Sergei go wild.
For New Year’s Misty and I stayed at home whipped up a feast. Rack of lamb, brussel sprouts, and roasted potatoes, a nice wintery meal. Poor lamb. That’s what we always think, but on a special occasion you can eat a baby. Babies are delicious… Oh, and for you folks interested in the farm to table element, here’s a nice piece on how to butcher a fresh lamb carcass, should you ever find yourself out to pasture with Mongolians or the Basque.
I’ll detail the dishes in chronological order, starting with the potatoes, sprouts, and the rack, as you enjoy concerto #3 in D minor. Now open a bottle of wine please; there are a lot of steps, and wine softens the anxiety of reading directions. Plus wine with a concerto is classy, and we Grimm Gourmets are a class act.
Ready to rack… total cooking time ~1 hour.
- Potatoes (a variety or russets)
- Red onion
- Sage, thyme, rosemary
- Salt and pepper
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. You’ll need around 6 potatoes to feed 4, with one onion. I use a combination of Yukon gold, Russet, purple Andean potatoes, and red onion for some color. Slice the onion and potatoes and add to a large roasting pan. Chop some sage, rosemary, and thyme and add to the pan. Drizzle with 2 tablespoons of olive oil, grind some pepper (I do around 50 grinds), and about a tablespoon of salt. Mix up the indredients in the pan with your hands until the potatoes and onions are coated and your hands are oily. Feel your food, it’s a very important part of cooking. Put the potatoes in the oven and roast for around 35 minutes or until golden brown and soft.
- A big bag of Brussel sprouts, I like the smaller ones (~1+ pound?), quartered
- One red onion, thinly sliced
- 4 strips of thick butcher’s bacon
- Salt and pepper
Grab a skillet and fry up the bacon on medium-high heat. When done, remove the bacon and turn heat to medium. Add the onions to the bacon grease along with the Brussels sprouts. Sautee until onions are browned, soft and delicious and the sprouts have a little brown coloring as well. Chop the bacon into bits and add back to the pan. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste, reduce heat to low, and cover to warm until ready to plate and serve.
Rack of Lamb
- A rack of lamb (size depends on number you’re serving, I used a 1.4lb rack)
- 0.5 cup of bread crumbs (I toasted some sour dough bread, tossed it in a bowl with some olive oil, salt, and pepper and crumbed it)
- 1 tbs of dijon mustard
- 2 tbs minced garlic
- 2 tbs of minced fresh rosemary
- 1 tsp salt
- Freshly ground pepper
First, french trim the rack of lamb (watch film below). Unless your butcher did this for you, which is lazy, this will take some time. It involves removing the skin and fatty tissue, and trimming around the bones, while sparing the loin.
Second, throw the bread crumbs, garlic, rosemary, salt, and pepper into a bowl and stir until mixed, then add 2 tbs olive oil to the mixture to keep it moist. Your oven is already at 450 degrees for the potatoes. This is good. Find your heaviest cast iron skillet, the one from Grandpa Wolking’s house and stick it in the oven dry. As the skillet heats up to 450, wash the rack of lamb and pat dry. You can now hit repeat on the concerto above.
Season the rack with salt and freshly ground pepper on both sides. Using a potholder, remove the skillet from the oven and coat with 2 tbs olive oil. Then sear the rack on each side for 1 minute. Do not overdo this. 1 minute per side. Seriously.
Remove the rack from the pan and place on your cutting board. Brush the rack all over with the dijon mustard, then roll the rack in the bread crumb mixture. You can grip the lamb by the rib bones since it has been trimmed. When covered in crumbs, place the rack back in the skillet and cover the bones with foil to keep them from burning. Place the skillet in the oven (still at 450), and cook on each side for 12-18 minutes depending on how you want it. I prefer red meat medium rare, so cooked it for 15 minutes total. When done, remove the rack from the oven and keep in skillet for additional 5-8 minutes loosely covered. Remember, it will continue cooking in the skillet. Iron is an excellent heat conductor and heat will continue radiating into the meat even after removal from the oven. So, if the meat was perfect after 17 minutes in the oven, it will be overdone after another 5 minutes in the pan at room temperature. I always remove meat a minute or two before it looks perfectly medium rare to adjust.
You can now carve that sucker up, either into lollipops, or as two separate racks linked by the rib bones in a teepee formation for extra presentation points. It’s also pretty to chop up some fresh parsley and sprinkle as a garnish over the loin. The lamb now looks delicious, so plate the rack with some potatoes, the sprouts, and a little extra dijon as a dipping sauce.
This meal is well worth the effort. I served it with a 2009 Grenache, the “Pinot of the foothills”, which was an excellent pairing. Make this, and your loved one(s) will swoon.