This weeks Weekend Herb Blogging is being hosted by Pookah at What's Cooking in Carolina? Check out her tapas party – looks yummy!
Why does rosemary go so well with lamb? Is it a cultural thing? Long habit? Or because they graze on the wild rosemary that grows everywhere on the hillsides? Whatever the cause I have lots of rosemary in the garden for three reasons: to eat with lamb; it looks nice all year and to eat with lamb.
We love lamb. Despite the fact that I did not grow up eating it, and, yes, the little darlings are cute, I can't help but think 'mustard and rosemary' whenever I see a flock. When we lived in Ireland we could get a perfectly trimmed 'rack of lamb' for not much more than the price of a chicken breast. We got to know that butcher very well.
In Spain and Andorra, when we went in search of 'rack of lamb' they had no idea what we were talking about. They like little, tiny chops, no more than one bite, grilled quickly, but thoroughly. If you order lamb chops you'll get a huge platter of these 5 inch bones with a tidbit on one end and are expected to eat with your fingers. Resist the urge to throw the bones over your shoulder.
Here in France we have found a butcher with excellent lamb, but trimming is simply not done. He cuts through the bones to make carving easy, but why would we want to get rid of all those tasty bits? Guess we don't…
1 rack of lamb, 6 – 8 bones, depending on your butcher and what's available
1 tbs soft butter
1 tbs Dijon mustard
2 tsp dried rosemary
1 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp dried summer savory
If there is a thick layer of fat on the rack it should be removed – but normally your butcher would have already done this – just a warning. Mix butter, mustard and herbs. Spread it over the rounded, fat side of the lamb. Put rack 'herb-ed' side up in a roasting pan and roast for 30 minutes in a 425F (220C) oven. Remove and let rest for 5 minutes. Carve by cutting it into chops – between the rib bones. It should be nicely pink on the inside – and delicious.
I could never understand the whole 'mint jelly' thing with lamb. I tend not to like sweet things with meat. But spicy? Mais oui! For me, the perfect side dish for lamb is lentils, especially the Lentils de Puy, from France, spiced up a bit….
3/4 cup dried lentils – I use the tiny, green lentils de Puy, but you can use the larger brown ones
1 1/2 cups water and beef stock mixed
1 8 oz can white kidney beans
1 small onion
1/2 red or green pepper
1 medium tomato
3 cloves garlic
1 6 oz can green chilies – if you want something hotter, please do so. These are as hot as I like. Mon mari always adds jalepeños to his
1 tbs chili powder
1 tbs oregano
1 tbs olive oil
Cook the lentils in water and stock according to package directions until done. When done, turn off and let sit. Finely chop onion, pepper, garlic, tomato and chilies. Heat oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. When hot add the chili powder and sauté for 1 minute, stirring constantly – this releases more flavors. Add onion and garlic and sauté a few minutes, then add pepper, sauté another few minutes, then add tomatoes and oregano. Turn heat down to low and sauté until all vegetables are very tender, stirring occasionally, about 15 minutes. When lentils are done, drain any excess liquid and add to pan with vegetables along with drained and rinsed kidney beans. Add chilies and stir to combine. Taste. This is where I stop but you may add more chili powder, chilies or hot sauce to taste. Cover and let simmer over low heat for 5 – 10 minutes to let flavors meld. Serve.
Make sure you stop by What's Cooking in Carolina to get the whole Weekend Herb Blogging recap on Monday.