Friday, November 20, 2009

Herb-Crusted Rack of Lamb with Lemon-Tahini Sauce & Mint Rice

Friday is finally here!  Let's out let out a collective sigh of relief.


In honor of the weekend, I thought I'd write up a Greek-inspired recipe that I made last week!  Now, I've often mentioned that I let my ingredients inspire me, so the centerpiece of this dish was the gorgeous hunks of rack of lamb that I preordered from Healthy Family Farms, CSA.  They are known for their tender, mild lamb, and I was stoked to try it for the first time.

The only other ingredient I scooped up at the Farmers Market that wasn't a pantry staple was a fragrant bundle of mint from Kenter Canyon Farms, based on the fact that lamb paired with mint is a classic flavor profile.

A few days later, I plotted out my dish.  One of my favorite recipes to serve with spicy curries is my Mint Rice (click here for recipe).  It's so simple - I literally just cook rice, let it rest and then toss in some chopped mint.  The aromatic herb transforms the boring old rice into something transcendent.  I decided the lamb would taste delicious served over this recipe.

My next thought was that I'd simply herb crust the lamb with thyme, rosemary and parsley and rub it with garlic and olive oil, sure to be delicious.   Because of the quality of the meat, which I wanted to taste, I wanted to prepare it simply by pan-roasting it on the stove top.  Finally, to tie the dish together, I settled on preparing a lemon-tahini sauce, both tahini and lamb being classic staples in Greek cuisine.  I also happen to adore the taste of lemon with meat, so I knew this recipe would be a winner!

Not only did the flavor profiles work really well in this dish, but the lamb truly was the star, succulent and tender, melting in your mouth without even a hint of the gaminess that I've often associated with lamb.  This might be the first time I've seen Kuzak clean his plate, even sopping up with lamb juice with the fat!  At the end of the meal, the only thing left to show we'd eaten anything at all were the lamb bones, scattered across clean plates.  It sure made dishes a snap!

Herb-Crusted Rack of Lamb with Lemon-Tahini Sauce & Mint Rice
Serves 2 people 

4 rack of lamb pieces (2 bones each) or 1 rack of lamb
1 cup of rice, cooked
1 tbsp mint, chopped
1 tsp rosemary, chopped
1 tsp flat-leaf parsley, chopped
1 tsp thyme, chopped
1 garlic clove, chopped
1 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp grapeseed oil
salt & pepper

lemon-tahini sauce:
2 tbsp sesame tahini
1 tbsp lemon juice, freshly squeezed
1/4 tsp cumin, ground
salt & pepper


To make the lemon-tahini sauce, whisk together the tahini, lemon juice and cumin in a bowl.  Add water as needed to thin to a nice consistency.  Season to taste with salt and pepper and set aside.

To make the mint rice, simply toss the cooked rice with the mint and season to taste with salt and pepper.  Also, set aside.

To prepare the lamb, rub it with the rosemary, thyme, parsley, garlic and olive oil and sprinkle it with salt and pepper on all sides.

In a saute pan, heat the grapeseed oil over high heat.  Add the lamb pieces and reduce heat to medium-high. Cook the lamb on all sides, until golden brown and cooked medium rare.  Remove from heat and allow to rest for 10 minutes.

Note: if working with a whole rack of lamb (not just pieces), I recommend searing the lamb stove top and then finishing it in a 400 degree oven for 15-20 minutes, depending on the size of the rack.

To plate, scoop the mint rice onto a plate and then top with two pieces of the lamb, arranging them nicely.  Drizzle on the lemon-tahini sauce and grind fresh cracked pepper over it.  Enjoy!

Businesses Mentioned:

Healthy Family Farms, CSA
6780 Wheeler Canyon Rd.
Santa Paula, CA 93060

I loved their lamb so much, I emailed my contact to rave about it!  

A CSA, which stands for Community Supported Agriculture, is a way for a community to come together and support a local farm or group of farms by paying upfront for a share of their product.  The benefit comes from supporting a small business and also getting access to their superb offerings.  

In the case of Healthy Family Farms, they provide eggs, chicken, cornish game hens, milk-fed pork, ducks, lamb and beef!  Their animals are all natural, grass-fed and free of antibiotics and hormones.  Even better, if you join for a nominal fee of $50 annually, you can get a discount on their product and access to raw goat and cow milk, cheese and other specialties (I'm a member!).  

They can be found at Farmers Markets, including the Hollywood Farmers Market which I frequent just about every Sunday.  

Source for Ingredients:

rack of lamb from Healthy Family Farms (Hollywood Farmers Market)

organic mint, organic rosemary, organic thyme from Kenter Canyon Farms (Hollywood Farmers Market)

organic garlic and organic lemons from Hollywood Farmers Market

organic flat-leaf parsley and forbidden rice from Whole Foods

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