Farmer’s markets, restaurants, magazines, the weather, walking around, other blogs, friends, parties – while this could be a list of my favorite things, in fact it is a (wholly incomprehensive) list of where I get ideas for this site. But when chatting with B the other day, I let it be known that he could make requests. Many things on here are spur of the moment, what’s in the fridge kind of posts, but occasionally there are go-to-the-store-with-an-idea in mind type of thing too. And I let him know that I am always open to suggestions for those.
And in about 2.5 seconds he answered lamb.
I think he loves it because:
- lamb an and of itself is pretty amazing
- we don’t have it at home that often, so it really feels like a treat
- (and I love that he knows and appreciates this) lamb is really simple to prepare, but seems extra fancy, so it’s a great thing to have in your repertoire to wow guests with ease
But the thing is, since I don’t make it very often, I rarely change it up. I generally do rack of lamb persillade (fancy-schamcy, eh?) – or really just a bread crumb-parsley-garlic coating, to which I may or may not often through in some mint and/or rosemary.
But the spice-rubbed lamb chops that we made at Sunday Suppers: Winter Dinner have really stayed in my mind. That and the grape-almond port sauce that the Jewels of NY made … I was crazy for the addition grapes to the sauce.
And while I could’ve let well enough alone and made that dinner again exactly, why would I do such a silly thing like that? I much prefer to tinker around and change things up. Plus, I can’t shake the fact that I have to have mint with lamb. I think we can blame that on growing up with lamb and mint jelly, where I would really load on the mint jelly.
Thankfully, we came up with a combination that worked – mint and spice and other things nice.
There was a recipe on epicurious for a spice-coated rack of lamb with coffee, cocoa & cumin and I added in cinnamon and orange zest from the S.S. version to make a fairly heavy spice crust. Just because I am leaving the bread crumbs behind, doesn’t mean I don’t want the coating be substantial.
And while I loved the grape-almond sauce, I didn’t want to mask any of the flavors in the spice mixture – so I moved those ingredients over to a red wine rice (more on that later) and made a super simple salady-topping-thing for the lamb of just oranges and mint. For once I did not go overboard here, adding this and that, just used a few navel and blood oranges to bring out the zest on the lamb and a bit of my beloved mint.
And now I have a new “go-to” lamb recipe … which may mean it starts showing up around here more often.
Oh – and B is not the only one who can make requests. Anything you want to know? Want me to tinker with? Want me to try? Just let me know – email me or leave a note in the comments. Curious little bird over here always likes to know what you are thinking too.
Spice-Crusted Rack of Lamb with Orange and Mint Inspired by the Spice Coated Rack of Lamb in Bon Appétit | January 2009 and Jewels of NY Spice Coated Lamb Chops for Sunday Suppers –
NOTE: Ask your butcher to “french” or clean the rib bones of the lamb and remove any excess surface fat. Most standard racks are about 8 chops, but you can have the butcher chop them down for you, if you prefer. As there were only two of us and lamb can be a bit expensive, I had my butcher cut this rack down to 6 bones, or about 1 lb. Depending on the size of the rack, you may or may not need to do this, but don’t forget that it is an option.
For the coffee, I wrote “mild-roast” per the Bon Appetit recipe, but I used the dark roast espresso grind that I had on hand and it worked fine.For lamb: ½ T. unsweetened cocoa powder ½ T. mild-roast coffee, finely ground ½ T. cinnamon ½ T. orange zest 1 t. ground cumin ½ (scant) t. freshly ground black pepper ½ t. kosher salt 1 rack of lamb, frenched (see notes) 2 T. olive oil
1 navel orange, segmented
2 blood oranges, segmented
chopped mint (about 1-2 T. depending on how minty you want it)
Pre-heat oven to 400°F.
In a small bowl, combine coffee, cocoa, cumin, cinnamon, salt and pepper. Once combined, mix in orange zest.
Rub the spice mixture on all sides of the lamb, pressing to coat.
In heavy, oven-safe sauté pan over high heat, heat olive oil until hot but not smoking. Sear rack, meat side down, until deep golden brown and crust forms, about 2 minutes. Flip to sear underside in same manner, about 2 minutes, then sear bottom of rack in same manner, 2 minutes more.
Flip rack back to meat side up, then transfer pan to oven and roast lamb until meat thermometer inserted into center registers 125°F (do not touch bone) for medium-rare, about 15 minutes. Transfer lamb to rack with pan or plate underneath to catch juices and let rest 10 to 15 minutes (while resting, meat will continue to cook a bit, and come to about 130ºF).
While the lamb is roasting, in small bowl add orange segments, mint, salt and pepper. Drizzle with a touch of olive oil (less than a tablespoon), gently stir together to combine.
When the lamb is rested cut chops and top with oranges and mint.