By Stephanie Linehan
I think it’s fair to say that we have all experienced some dark days in the past year. For me, the monotony has been especially challenging. A couple of months into the pandemic, I realized that coming up with new ideas and trying them out would give me something to look forward to. This slower pace has given us the opportunity to think outside our repertoire.
Given that mindset and with Easter upon us, I decided to take this year’s holiday brunch a step closer to culinary heaven by serving rack of lamb, rather than our traditional leg of lamb.
Note to the cook: Make sure to cook the lamb with lots of fresh rosemary and thyme, because the herbs mask its somewhat gamey flavor, and be careful not to overcook the meat. I heat it to an internal temperature of 130 degrees and then let it rest.
I am already imagining ways to decorate the table. I know there will be daffodils. Last spring was the first time I took a walk down Manursing Way while the daffodils were blooming. When I think of the most beautiful flower, the daffodil is not the first that comes to mind, but it was breathtaking to see them in those never-ending rows. I’ve never used daffodils for my centerpieces before, but I want to bring that classic sign of spring to the table. So, I’m putting away the Easter bunnies that usually grace our table.
When creating a new spread, you need to expand your thinking about centerpieces, too. I always start with freshly cut flowers, but this year I’m going to use a bed of Mood moss to give the table texture, and then nestle in some potted daffodils and tulips for color.
I’m counting on this cheerful spring mix to set the mood for a memorable meal.
Rack of Lamb
2 lamb racks, French cut
2 tbsp. olive oil
2 tbsp. butter
1 cup red wine
2 cups beef stock, or lamb stock if June & Ho has it
1 garlic clove, slightly crushed
1 bouquet garni (Bundle 1 sprig of flat leaf parsley, 2 sprigs fresh thyme, and bay leaf and tie together with string.)
1 pinch of fresh thyme leaves
1 pinch fresh rosemary leaves
2 tbsp. Dijon mustard
2 tbsp. fresh breadcrumbs
Kosher salt and pepper
Generously season the meat with salt and pepper. Heat the olive oil in a sauté pan, and when the oil is hot, add a tablespoon of butter. Once the butter has foamed and subsided, put in the racks, fat-side down. Sear the lamb, turning with tongs, until brown on all sides, about 5 minutes. Remove from the pan and set aside.
Discard the fat from the sauté pan, and over high heat, stir in the wine, scraping the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon. Reduce by half, then add the stock, garlic, and bouquet garni. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and cook down until thick enough to coat the spoon. Strain into a small pot and set aside.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Sprinkle half the thyme and rosemary leaves over the lamb. Spoon the mustard over the fat side of the meat and press the breadcrumbs into the mustard with your hands so that they adhere and form a thick layer over the outside.
Place the lamb in a roasting pan and cook in the oven for 17 minutes, or until the internal temperature reaches 130 degrees. Remove pan from the oven and let the lamb rest 10 minutes before slicing.
Return the sauce to medium-high heat and add the remaining herbs. Whisk in the remaining tablespoon of butter and serve alongside the lamb.