Roasted rack of lamb with fresh mint sauce, orzo salad, and jammy eggs: Open your taste buds to Spring

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Spring is here! Get to the market!

While a lot of people (me included) get too busy to go to farmer's markets, I try to go when I can. Almost everything there inspires. There's something especially ugly-beautiful about the vegetables on display, fresh from the farm, in shapes and sizes you just won't find at a supermarket chain. And I'm always thrilled to see that the produce has more color and flavor that most of what you'll find elsewhere. Just smelling a tomato on a market table will make your day.

This recipe brings together rack of lamb from my butcher and mint from the farmer's market. Don’t be put off by the what-seems-obvious coupling of lamb and mint. This ain't your grandma's mint jelly...

Ingredients

For the lamb

  • 2 cleaned ("frenched") half-racks of lamb, approximately six ribs per rack

For the mint sauce

  • 5 cloves garlic peeled
  • 2 small shallots
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard -smooth, not grainy 
  • 2 cups loosely packed mint leaves (stems removed)

About removing mint stems: It's a bit tedious to extract the leaves from the stem, but mint has a sturdier leg than, say, basil. You’ll not want that woody stem anywhere near your delicate mint leaves, nor chopped up in your sauce. 

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Procedure

  1. Place the garlic, shallots, Dijon mustard, and mint leaves the bowl of your food processor:
  2. Pulse until the ingredients are well-minced. Add in:
  3. 1-1/2 cup good quality olive oil
  4. 1 t. kosher salt
  5. 1/2 t. black pepper. Optionally, you can add 1/2 t. Aleppo flakes. I do. Go for it.
  6. Give the processor a few good pulses and let this darling sit for a bit.
  7. Do a preliminary taste for seasoning.

Be careful not to over-salt the sauce at this point, which you might be tempted to do because the the crushed mint's flavor and aroma are so strong they may mask the salt's flavor.

Some people start cooking their Sunday dinner the day before, and continue that prep into Saturday evening. (Our egg dish demands that.) For some of you, this may be a good choice. Your mileage may vary. Whatever you do, be safe and healthy. And don't be shy about laughing out loud. Spring is here!

Some people start cooking their Sunday dinner the day before, and continue that prep into Saturday evening. (Our egg dish demands that.) For some of you, this may be a good choice. Your mileage may vary. Whatever you do, be safe and healthy. And don't be shy about laughing out loud. Spring is here!

  1. In your largest EuroCAST skillet (or the top of your EuroCAST double roaster), place the lamb racks, meat side up. 
  2. Drizzle olive oil over and massage it well in between the ribs. Salt and pepper well.
  3. Place the ribs in a 425F oven.
  4. Roast until medium rare or a meat thermometer reads 130F degrees, about 20-25 minutes.

Now is a good time to check the seasoning again on the mint sauce. Adjust as desired.

After you pull these darlings out of the oven, spoon on the mint sauce, covering the meaty part of the racks, avoiding the rib bones.

Let the lamb sit until well-rested, about 10 minutes.

Cut between the bones, serve on a platter, and put the remaining mint sauce in a serving bowl for passing. 

The lamb can be served warm, or at room temperature.

The EuroCAST double roaster lid. I go to it all the time. You can see why here. 

The EuroCAST double roaster lid. I go to it all the time. You can see why here. 

Jammy eggs for fun -- or Easter!

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To round out the menu -- or just as a fun, easy Sunday morning Easter celebration snack -- here are some easy, jammy eggs with a few drops of red food coloring in a soy sauce marinade. You'll want to start these the day before.

For the eggs

  • 6 room temperature eggs 
  • 1 pot of boiling water in your EuroCAST Dutch oven
  1. With a large slotted spoon, add the eggs to the pot and set the timer for precisely 6:50 (yes, that's exactly ten seconds short of seven minutes) .
  2. Stir the eggs for the first minute to move the eggs around.
  3. Remove eggs with a slotted spoon to a bowl prepped with a lot of of ice and water.
  4. Let eggs sit in the iced water for 30 minutes.
  5. Gently rap the shells with the back of a spoon to crack everywhere, but leave the shells intact. 
The red eggs in the bowl are unpeeled, but the eggs on the cutting board have had the shells removed, revealing a lovely veining -- the food coloring slips under the shells to make a pretty delight on the table.

The red eggs in the bowl are unpeeled, but the eggs on the cutting board have had the shells removed, revealing a lovely veining -- the food coloring slips under the shells to make a pretty delight on the table.

For the red color to make them holiday-worthy

Add the eggs to:

  • 1 cup soy sauce
  • 1 T. sugar
  • 2 T. rice wine
  • 1 smashed clove garlic
  • 1 sliced shallot
  • 2 pinches red pepper flakes
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 drops red food coloring

Marinate overnight.

Finishing peeling ... and, bam, they're beautiful and delicious! Serve as you wish.

Orzo with pan-seared tomato

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Simplicity and elegance may seem hard to achieve. Here's the trick: Go to the market and pick the best ingredients. Then just a few small moves turn that into breath-taking, beautiful, and mouth-watering delights.. 

As proof: this salad that shows off the gorgeous quality of the tomatoes and the herbs, and needs ... not much else.

  • 1 box orzo pasta, cooked as directed.

In a large mixing bowl, assemble: 

  • Your cooked orzo with 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 T. kosher salt
  • 1 t. granulated garlic powder
  • 1 t. crushed black pepper

Set aside.

A nice side for nibbles at the table: mozzarella cheese presented with lovely "Easter egg" radishes (yes, that's a thing) and grilled vegetables. A little salt and pepper, or maybe Aleppo flakes. 

A nice side for nibbles at the table: mozzarella cheese presented with lovely "Easter egg" radishes (yes, that's a thing) and grilled vegetables. A little salt and pepper, or maybe Aleppo flakes. 

Now, assemble these ingredients in your largest EuroCAST skillet.

  • 3 cups grape tomatoes tossed with
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1 Tablespoon kosher salt
  1. Sauté the tomatoes in the skillet. Give them a good shake then let them sit to caramelize a bit. It wont take long and don’t fuss over them. If they burn a tiny bit it’s not the end of the world.
  2. Add the tomatoes to the orzo and mix well.
  3. Add 1 cup well minced flat leaf parsley and allow the flavors to marry.

You could add in these if you are feeling Spring-inspired frisk in your kitchen:

  • 2 cups zucchini and summer squash, sliced wafer-thin and grilled
  • 1 cup diced mozerella
  • 1/2 cup crumbled goat's cheese 
  • 1/2 cup crushed pistachios

This dish seems casual and loose, but it is precise in its seasoning.

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When you're done, you will have springtime on the table.

This is how you know the new season is here: Get to the market, get those herbs, get those tomatoes, choose what's most beautiful. Cook simply, season right.

Simple. Elegant. Unfussy. Extraordinary.

Paul WardComment