Herbs, asparagus are lamb’s spring companions

The Whole Dish podcast: Locally raised lamb a sustainable option

Asparagus, extolled in this blog’s previous post, recently has found favor with my kids. Surprisingly, my 5-year-old son, skeptical of almost every vegetable, declares that he loves asparagus, particularly when he can cut the little “trees” himself from our garden beds.

But texture, I realized, makes all the difference in my boys’ enthusiasm for asparagus. When I lightly blanch it in a pot with pasta, they can’t get enough and even steal spears off my plate. Roast it with their sweet potatoes, and they look askance. It’s ironic, given that the latter method is upheld as the way to get non-asparagus eaters to appreciate this distinctively flavored vegetable.

I resorted to bribing my older son to try one unfamiliar texture in exchange for something much more toothsome on his palate. The prospect of cleaning the bones from our slow-cooked lamb shanks provided all the inspiration he needed to finish the trees’ caramelized trunks and tops.

Although he also looked a bit askance, our dinner companion is good-natured enough to chuckle at two kids gnawing bones the length of their forearms. It’s an exercise repeated anytime our family’s menu features meat on the bone, including lamb chops.

With a zesty, herbaceous marinade, this rack of lamb would be lovely served in more sophisticated settings, perhaps Mother’s Day brunch. Had we time to allow for marinating, the mixture would have infused our meat, cooked via Instant Pot, with the taste of spring. Similar to the lamb my family prepared for Easter weekend, the seared rack also suggests stripping the bones.

photo courtesy of Tribune News Service

Rack of Lamb With Pesto

1 rack of lamb, Frenched if desired (about 1 1/4 pounds)

Herb Marinade:

2 tablespoons chopped, fresh oregano

2 tablespoons chopped, fresh parsley

2 tablespoons minced shallots

Zest and juice from 1 lemon

1 large garlic clove, peeled and minced

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

Pesto:

1/2 cup packed fresh mint leaves

1/2 cup packed fresh parsley leaves, chopped

2 tablespoons walnuts or pine nuts, toasted

2 large fresh garlic cloves, peeled

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1/3 cup Parmesan cheese, grated

1/2 cup olive oil

Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

1 tablespoon olive oil canola oil

1/3 cup white wine (optional)

1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar (optional)

Cut the rack of lamb in half so you have 2 pieces with 4 bones each. Place both in a plastic bag.

Whisk together all the marinade ingredients and pour over lamb. Seal bag. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours and up to overnight.

Make pesto. Place the mint and parsley leaves, walnut or pine nuts, garlic and lemon juice in a food processor. Pulse to mince mixture. Add the Parmesan and pulse again. With processor on, slowly add the olive oil in a steady stream. If mixture is too thick, you can thin with a little water or more oil. Add salt and pepper to taste. Transfer to a small bowl. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Remove lamb and pesto from refrigerator and let stand for 1 hour before cooking.

Preheat oven to 400 F. Remove lamb from marinade and brush off any garlic and herbs — they will burn in pan and in oven — and pat lamb dry with paper towels.

In a large oven-proof skillet, heat the 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium-high heat. Once hot, add both lamb pieces, fat-side down. Brown lamb for about 5 minutes. Turn over and transfer skillet to preheated oven. Cook about 15 to 20 minutes or until lamb registers 120 F on an instant-read thermometer for medium-rare. Or cook it to your desired temperature.

Carefully remove from oven, transfer lamb to platter, tent with foil and let rest for 10 minutes. While lamb rests, it will continue to cook and internal temperature will rise.

If desired, you can make a pan sauce. Using same skillet, add the wine and cook over medium heat. Bring to a boil while scraping up any bits on bottom of pan. Stir in the balsamic vinegar and heat for 1 minute. Strain sauce.

To serve, arrange lamb on a platter and drizzle with some pan sauce and a few spoonfuls of pesto. Or cut lamb into individual chops and serve.

Makes 2 to 3 servings.

Recipe from the Detroit Free Press Test Kitchen.

This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. Post a comment

Post a Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.

  • Blog Author

    Sarah Lemon

    Sarah Lemon covers the Rogue Valley’s food scene with an enthusiasm that rivals her love of cooking. Her blog mixes culinary musings and milestones with tips and recipes you won’t find in the Mail Tribune’s weekly A la Carte section. When ... Read Full
  • Categories

  • Archives