Holiday meal starts with lamb, the perfect meat
Karen and I wish everyone a very merry and happy holiday season. This is the time of year to reconnect with all family and extended family members. To that end we’ll share with you a recipe for a rack of lamb and a recommendation that you go to the Arlington Square ice skating rink and enjoy the festive holiday atmosphere that Tami Westergard and Joe McCarthy have magically provided with the help of the Carson Nugget and Downtown Consortium. This is a continuation of the community-oriented activities that invigorated Carson City during the summer months. Karen and I and the Adele’s staff are very excited about it.
The recipe for a rack of lamb was inspired by a visit to Costco. Karen and I were shopping and the wine manager (unfortunately I didn’t get his name) asked me for some tips on cooking a rack of lamb with a natural red wine reduction. I gave him some tips and I thought what a great idea for the Christmas dinner menu.
Although the herds in Nevada are diminished we still have a lively group of Basques who still raise substantial amounts of lambs throughout the Northern Nevada area and the Borda family still raises a nice size herd in the surrounding areas of Carson City. You might see these lambs eating the cheat grass in the surrounding foothills to help prevent a repeat of the Waterfall fire.
When selecting a rack of lamb there are some things you should know first. Lamb is the perfect meat; it grazes on natural grains and grass. They also don’t react well to growth hormones or antibiotics; therefore, they are naturally grown and safe. When selecting a rack of lamb you want one that has been trimmed by the butcher. Some of the terms you need to know when purchasing are frenched, chine bone off, cap off and pin bones removed. Butler Meats is a perfect place to have these specifications taken care of. I recommend domestic lamb although Costco has an Australian rack of lamb that meets all of these requirements (pre-trimmed).
rack of lamb for two
1 tablespoon garlic, finely chopped
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon fresh mint, finely chopped
1/4 teaspoon sea salt, medium-coarse
1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
1/4 cup shallots, thinly sliced
1 teaspoon flour
1/4 cup red wine
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/4 cup tomato puree (not paste)
2 tablespoons fresh mint, finely chopped
1 tablespoon butter, softened
Preparing the rack for roasting is as easy as a, b, c. A rack of lamb should feed a minimum of two people. First rinse and pat dry and then rub the rack with garlic and Dijon mustard. Combine fresh mint, sea salt and black pepper and rub this on the lamb as well.
Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. Put approximately a quarter cup (per rack of lamb) of thinly sliced shallots in the bottom of a 12-inch saute pan, or if cooking more than one rack use the appropriate size roasting pan. (Last week I picked up some of the finest shallots I have ever seen, about the size of a golf ball at Trader Joe’s.) Place the rack in the pan on top of the shallots and roast in the oven for 10 minutes. Check the internal temperature of the meat to make sure it is 115 degrees.
Depending on your oven it takes 10 to 20 minutes max. Carefully remove the lamb from the pan and set on a cutting board and let rest for 15 minutes. Now it’s time to make the sauce.
Sprinkle flour over the drippings in the pan used for roasting and whisk everything together (all the drippings and pieces). Carefully pour in red wine (Cabernet Sauvignon is a great one to use), and add Dijon mustard, and tomato puree. Whisk together and then add fresh mint. Let mixture reduce by 25 percent. If it is too thick add a little more wine. At the end of this process add the softened butter and whisk. This should take approximately 15 minutes even for a novice.
Slice your lamb using a serrated knife going down the side of each bone. This is where taking the pin bones out is very important. The knife should glide through the meat creating eight chops per rack of lamb. Place the lamb in the center of a serving platter and ladle a little sauce over the top. Surround the lamb with roasted fingerling potatoes. Pass the rest of the sauce with your holiday dinner.
With your rack of lamb I recommend a good Zinfandel or Syrah from Amador Foothills or Eldorado County. As always enjoy, enjoy, enjoy!!!
Karen, myself and Ms. Beasly will be vacationing in January. We are taking a trip consistent with today’s trying economy and I’m calling it the “top ramen” tour. We are getting a VW camper and taking a tour of the California coastline from Mendocino to Big Sur. We will share our experiences with you in the future.
– Charlie Abowd is the owner and chef at Adele’s. He and his wife, Karen, have lived in Carson City since 1980. Charlie is a fourth-generation restaurateur.