The holidays were as hectic as could be at the end of 2013 and as they came to a close, I was eagerly awaiting 2014. The significant lover and I spent our New Year’s Eve in our humble abode with a bottle of champagne and a finely cooked meal by moi. Inspired by Strawberry Plum’s Lavender & Honey Grilled Lamb recipe, I conjured up our own sacrificial lamb to bring prosperity and peace in the new year. Along with it, goat cheese and arugula salad and fennel risotto.
Since I don’t have an outdoor grill and using a George Foreman for rack of lamb seems sacrilegious, I pan seared and oven baked my version. I also only had dried lavender buds available and it still worked really well so if you don’t have a garden to pick from, you can still used dried lavender. I find mine at World Market because it is in walking distance to my apartment. I am also going to start using an asterisk* to denote an ingredient that I am using from my CSA box from Be Wise Ranch.
Lavender Honey Lamb Ingredients:
~1 rack of lamb
~1/4 cup of honey
~2 tbsp dried lavender separated
~1 tbsp dried rosemary*
~3-4 garlic cloves cut into decent sized slivers (want one to go between each chop)
~salt & pepper
~1 tbsp olive oil plus a little more for pan searing.
~You will also need a meat thermometer
Heat your oven to 475 degrees. If you have a roasting rack then use it but I do not so I simply use a foiled baking sheet. Prepare the rub following Strawberry Plum, combining 1 tbsp of lavender with rosemary, salt, pepper, and olive oil. To prepare the lamb, first make a small incision deep enough for the garlic clove slivers between each of the chops. Taking a bit of the rub between your fingers, push in to the cut holes followed by a sliver of garlic. Use the remaining rub all over the rest of the lamb chop.
Heat some olive oil in your skillet and sear all sides of the lamb. Place the lamb on your rack or baking sheet for the last stages. Warm the honey with the other tbsp of lavender (a microwave is fine to use). Wrap each end of the bones with foil so that they don’t blacken (this is completely for aesthetics and to keep the bones nice if you want to nom-nom on them). With a basting brush, apply the lavender honey all over the lamb and insert in the oven.
I like my red meat a nice medium-rare. To do this successfully with a rack of lamb is all about wielding that thermometer! In my oven it took about twenty minutes in the oven and ten minutes of rest outside of the oven, taking it out of the oven when my thermometer crept up to 140 degrees.
While the lamb is in the oven get started on that risotto. Fennel comes often in my CSA basket so I have taken it as a challenge to incorporate it into my winter meals when it is in season. I have to say that the sweet and tender slivers of roasted fennel incorporated well into my usual risotto recipe. So not to confuse you but I have to go backwards a bit and let you know that I roasted the fennel BEFORE I roasted the lamb.
~1/2 a fennel bulb sliced*
~1 whole shallot finely chopped
~1 tsp thyme
~1 tsp of sage
~ olive oil
~salt & pepper
~1/2 cup Parmigiano Reggiano grated
~1/2 cup of risotto
~1/2 cup of Sauvignon Blanc
~4-5 cups of chicken broth
~1/2 cup of cream
Toss sliced fennel with salt, pepper, and olive oil and roast at 475 degrees for about 10-12 minutes. Heat more olive oil in a skillet and sauté the shallot until tender. Toss in the risotto and let toast dry until the ends of the rice become translucent. Add a half of a cup of the broth at time and the herbs, continuously stirring over medium heat. Around the third time that you need to add liquid, use the Sauvignon Blanc and toss in roasted fennel before continuing with the broth. Stir! Stir! Stir! When the rice is almost tender through, add the cream then cheese. Salt and pepper to taste. Use the salt sparingly if at all, usually the cheese adds enough salt. Serve immediately.
The arugula salad was no big feat in the kitchen but I did get the arugula from the CSA box as well. Tossed the leaves with olive oil and garnished with crumbled goat cheese and candied pecans that I had still from the holidays.
I have to say this may have been my favorite preparation of rack of lamb that I have made. I don’t cook lamb often since 1) it isn’t the cheapest 2) I like to keep it for special occasions 3) it still kinda bothers me that it’s a baby. I am surprised that when I do bring up that I’ve made rack of lamb that people usually get very excited and surprised. It really isn’t a tricky meat to cook, the trick is to watch the temperatures so that you don’t ruin the meat with over cooking.