Sunday, February 15, 2015

Pistachio and Herb Crusted Rack of Lamb with Roasted Asparagus and Rosemary Potatoes

One of the dishes on my "to-do" list was a recipe for Pistachio and Herb Crusted Rack of Lamb, with Roasted Asparagus and Rosemary Potatoes.  I came across the recipe along time ago, when I was making dishes for my beautiful Angel when she was pregnant with our little guy.  Clare does not eat lamb, so I set aside the recipe for one of my "Steak Nights."  The "to-do" list for Steak Night was rather long, and, thoughts of the recipe sat, somewhat neglected in the recesses of my mind.

That was until very recently, when I had the urge to cook with a rack of lamb.  A rack of lamb is a cut perpendicular to the spine of the animal, and, usually consists of about eight (8) ribs and chops.  The rack of lamb cut is very popular, and somewhat expensive, especially if you purchase a "frenched" rack, where the ends of the ribs have been stripped bare of fat and meat.  A "frenched" rack of lamb provides for better presentation.   So, I bought one, because I could use a little help in the presentation department.    

Once I had my frenched rack of lamb, I proceeded to get the other ingredients.  The part of the recipe that piqued my interest is the "crust" of pistachios and fresh herbs.  I have seen many different recipes for "crusted" rack of lamb, but this was the first one that I saw which used pistachios.  Those nuts, along with the fresh rosemary and thyme, created an interesting combination of tastes and textures for the lamb. Apparently, it is also a fairly popular one, judging by the number of pistachio crusted rack of lamb recipes on the internet.  Some of those recipes did not include the fresh herbs, or, worse, added bread crumbs. Given the use of pistachios, bread crumbs seems kind of redundant for this dish, at least in my humble opinion.

Once I got home and made this recipe, I regretted not making it sooner.  The pistachio and her crust was delicious, and, as always, the lamb tasted very good.  However, I realized that I needed some more practice, both with respect to working with the crust and carving the finished product.  Nevertheless, I really enjoyed this recipe, and, as with so many other recipes, it will go on another list ... to make again.  Hopefully, it will not take as long to get back to the dish.

 Recipe from Erika Lenkert, Healthy Eating During Pregnancy, pg. 110

4 small red potatoes, halved
5 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary
1/2 cup fresh parsley, minced
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
3/4 pound asparagus, stems trimmed
1 teaspoon chopped thyme
1/3 cup dry-roasted pistachios
2 frenched racks of lamb (each rack 3/4 pound) 
     trimmed of all but a thin layer of fat
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

1.  Cook the potatoes and asparagus.  In a wide bowl, toss the cut potatoes in 2 teaspoons olive oil and 1 teaspoon chopped rosemary to coat.  Season with salt and pepper and transfer, cut side down in a single layer to a rimmed backing sheet.  Roll the asparagus in the same wide bowl, coating with the remaining oil, and set aside.  Roast the potatoes for 35 minutes.  Add the asparagus in a single layer and roast the potatoes and asparagus for 10 more minutes, then keep warm.

2.  Prepare the pistachio/herb blend.  Blend the parsley, thyme, and remaining 1 teaspoon rosemary in a blender or food processor until minced.  Add the pistachios and blend or process until minced.  Add 1 teaspoon of olive oil and pulse until combined.  Set aside.

3.  Prepare the lamb.  Season the lamb with salt and pepper.  Heat 2 teaspoons olive oil in a large saute pan over medium-high.  Sear the meat one rack at a time by cooking the ribs until brown, turning once, about 5 minutes.  Transfer the lamb to a large roasting pan, meat side up, and coat them with Dijon mustard.

4.  Roast the lamb.  Gently press the pistachio mixture onto the meaty portion of the rack (not the bones).  Roast the lamb until a thermometer inserted diagonally 2 inches into the center (do not touch the bone) registers 155 degrees Fahrenheit (for medium), 20 to 25 minutes.  Transfer to a cutting board.

5.  Finish the dish.  Let stand for 10 minutes, then gently cut the meat into individual ribs.  Serve with the potatoes and asparagus.


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