For dinner on Friday, I came up with a little feast of winter: fennel, lemons, parsnip, and rack of lamb. What better way to spend a friday night in the middle of January than with friends, at home, enjoying a roast? :-)
I love rack of lamb. And not just because I love roasts... which I do. But, because it's incredibly flavorful, in a very delicate, mild way, not the game-y flavor people usually think of when they hear 'lamb'. The meat remains rare and tender, and the herbs are perfectly aromatic. It really is a beautiful dish...and don't tell anybody, but it's pretty easy to cook. Season the lamb, and place in the oven ... that's it. Really!
When buying the meat (which I usually do the day i'm going to cook it, I never buy frozen), I ask the butcher to 'french' the rack of lamb, which means that they take the fat off the bones and give it it's beautifully elegant shape. But I ask them to give me those trimmings. It seasons the roast, and helps keep it from drying. In fact, the crispy fat gets so delicious in the oven, I always serve it on the platter. A. quickly devours it!
If your butcher does not have a rack the size you need, but a smaller one and then get individual pieces (lamb lollipops) and place in the baking dish along with the roast. Just be careful, because the loose pieces will cook faster, so remove them from the oven a bit before the rack is ready.
I served it with a creamy puree of parsnip and a fresh salad of shaved fennel (which is officially my new favorite vegetable!). Don't you love winter dinners? So rich and comforting.
Winter Dinner Menu:
- Rosemary Thyme Roasted Frenched Rack of Lamb
- Shaved Fennel Salad
- Parsnip Puree
ROSEMARY THYME ROASTED RACK OF LAMBRack of lamb (assume about 3 pieces per person)
Sprigs of Thyme
Herbes de Provence (about a tablespoon)
a generous tablespoon of Dijon Mustard
Olive Oil (about 1/4 cup)
1 tablespoon Worcester Sauce
Juice of 1/2 a lemon
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
Salt & Pepper
Red Wine (about half a bottle)
Place the lamb and trimmings on a baking dish with the fat side facing up. Rub the lamb with olive oil and mustard. Season with salt, pepper, garlic, and herbes de provence. Add the wine, lemon juice, and Worcester sauce to the baking dish. Place the sprigs of rosemary and thyme underneath the rack loosening a few leaves beforehand and rubbing it on the roast. Allow the lamb to marinate for 1 hour in the fridge. Place the trimming over the rack for extra flavor.
Preheat the oven to 350F. Cook the lamb until the inside temperature reaches 125F (medium rare) about 25 minutes but keep an eye on it and make sure you do not overcook. Then set the oven on broil (500F) and cook the lamb for another 5 minutes.
Take the pan out of the oven, set the lamb on a cutting board and let it rest for 5 minutes. You can serve the rack already cut, or cut at the table. I like to serve it cut, carve each piece between the bones. Serve with the red wine sauce and fat.
5 large Parsnips, peeled
2 tablespoons Heavy Cream
Salt & Pepper to taste
Bring a large pot of water to a boil, add plenty of salt. Chop parsnips into 1" pieces. Cook the parsnip until tender, about 25 minutes. Drain the water and transfer the parsnip to a large bowl. Using an immersion blender or mixer, start to puree. Add the cream, and salt & pepper to taste. You can mix it to be as smooth or as chunky as you want... I like it somewhere in between. Serve immediately, or cover and reheat briefly right before serving.
SHAVED FENNEL SALAD
2 large bulbs of fennel
Good quality Olive Oil
Squeeze of Lemon juice
Kosher salt & ground pepper
Cut the stems off the fennel and remove the outer skin. Place
Thinly cut the fennel (as thin as you can, try a mandolin). Season with olive oil, a squeeze of a lemon (or orange!), and salt and pepper. Serve chilled.