Ali got a rack of lamb this time

Rack of lamb!! I was so excited by this unexpected find that before I was even out of the grocery I was Googling ideas and tips and recipes! I usually already have an idea about something and shop for that main plan plus a few extras in case I decide to go another way but since finding the lamb was a surprise and it was fresh I wanted to have everything to make what ended up being Father’s Day dinner without having to freeze the lamb.

I was shopping for English cut short ribs because I found a recipe for a red wine braised version that sounded absolutely delicious and I always make something fancy for Father’s Day dinner now that the kid is grown and giving her own gifts and this year my Dad was going to be in town and I had a plan to get him some of the dinner as well!

I didn’t end up finding the meat I was looking for but I did find a giant pork loin and the lamb so the trip wasn’t a waste. We will talk about the pork loin later, this is about the surprise lamb!

I started the recipe search with Ina Garten but there was something too futzy about hers so I kept going and ended up at epicurious.com with a recipe for Roast Rack of Lamb with Mint Sauce. I am going to share their recipe exactly and then I will talk about what I did differently.

  • 3 8 chop racks- trimmed
  • 6 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 3 cups fresh white breadcrumbs
  • 6 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
  • Fresh mint sprigs

For the sauce:

  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
  • 1/2 cup canned beef broth
  • 1/3 cup minced shallots
  • 6 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch

For the sauce:

  1. Combine 1 cup mint, broth, shallots, vinegar and sugar in heavy small non-aluminum saucepan. Stir over medium heat until sugar dissolves. Simmer 2 minutes. Remove from heat. Cover and let stand 2 hours.
  2. Strain sauce into large glass measuring cup. Place cornstarch in same saucepan. Gradually whisk in sauce. Bring to simmer over medium heat, stirring constantly. Stir until sauce thickens slightly and turns translucent, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat. Cool to room temperature. (Can be prepared 1 day ahead. Cover and refrigerate. Bring to room temperature before continuing.) Stir in remaining 2 tablespoon mint. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Makes about 1 cup.

 For the meat:

  1. Preheat oven to 450°F. Sprinkle lamb with salt and pepper. Spread 1 tablespoon mustard on each side of each lamb rack. Mix breadcrumbs and mint in medium bowl. Press breadcrumb mixture onto lamb, coating completely.
  2. Arrange lamb, meat side up, on large baking sheet with rim. Roast lamb 10 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 350°F. Roast until thermometer inserted into lamb registers 130°F. for medium-rare, about 20 minutes longer.
  3. Transfer lamb to work surface. Tent with foil; let stand 5 minutes. Cut lamb racks between bones into chops. Arrange chops on plates. Garnish with mint sprigs; pass Mint Sauce separately.

I preheated my oven to 400 because at higher temps she cooks a little hotter than most recipes intend. I stuck to the salt and pepper but I used a stone ground mustard that has the chunks of seeds in it and a champagne dill mustard instead of the Dijon. I used a mix of plain white bread crumbs and a garlic seasoned wheat breadcrumb and along with the fresh mint I had some fresh dill and some flat leaf parsley that I mixed into the crumbs for coating. I also didn’t check the temperature with a thermometer because juice runs out of the hole that is created so I started at 400 and let that go for the 10 recommended minutes and then I went down to 315 knowing that it would take a bit longer so I could have time to make the sauce and the couscous that I found and green beans that were frozen.

For the frozen beans I opted to not thaw them before I started cooking them. I got one of my copped skillets over a medium high heat with a pat of ghee sizzling before I just poured the frozen beans in. The water released will be enough liquid to keep the beans from getting too browned too fast. Sometimes cooking things from frozen can get the outside nice while the inside is still cold so I wanted an almost braising situation but not a full on submersion because I didn’t want instant mush. I suppose we could talk about the disasters that can happen when cooking from frozen, it sure would make for good laughs but maybe not here.

So, back to the task at hand which is making not mushy beans. They need 5 to 7 minutes in the butter over the medium heat to really thaw but retain bean integrity, after those minutes the world is your oyster! I sliced a shallot into rings and cut the rings in half so I had shallot crescent moons and added those to the party with about 1/4 cup of beef broth and let that simmer down by about half before I added more ghee and several tablespoons of red wine and reduced the heat to medium low and let them simmer in the background while I worked on the rest.

The couscous this time came from a box but I still added my touch. Wild Mushroom was the flavor so I added more mushroom powder, fresh dill and parsley and instead of just using water I used half beef broth and half wine. I also added some smashed glazed garlic. We have talked about the glazed garlic and I almost always have some made or some that can be made at a moments notice!

We have the couscous, the green beans and the lamb with the sauce. I used a regular serrated knife to slice the rack into chops and I served 2 chops to each plate with the sides and little dishes of the sauce also on the side as it was very puckery and I didn’t want to take away from the flavor of the lamb, just compliment it.

The green beans turned out so good that we ended up eating them all so for the plate that I took to my Dad I made some asparagus, super simple with salt and pepper under the broiler until they turn bright green and start to soften which takes about 8 minutes under a low broiler and 4 under a high one.

I almost forgot that we had a dessert drink with this! I found an Elderflower flavored tonic water and a Peach and Orange Blossom vodka. I muddled some basil with ice in a shaker before I added the vodka and shook it up and strained it into a rocks glass with fresh ice in it and topped it off with the tonic water and 2 drops of Grapefruit bitters.

Don’t be put off by the new round of flavored vodkas that are coming to the market, they have come a long way since High School and Burnette’s Cherry Vodka that was more like cough syrup than booze. Kettle One and Svedka have some excellent flavors out there that can take your cocktails to a new level of delightful!

Thanks ya’ll!! Happy cooking!

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