Mustard Rack of Lamb with glazed shallots and tomatoes
An excuse to shop for a rack of lamb in Berlin can be, by the skin of your teeth, a full on project. I naughtily call it -creative exercise- as it can dig a hole in your pocket and if you want to get fussy, it will take a few extra U or S Bahn [underground] stops to find the markets where the precious cuts are sold, [for example: Marheineke Markthalle, Karstadt, or KaDeWe]. All three go from closer to farther for me and you can count on the hefty price. Nevertheless, in keeping true to -anything food is a worthwhile endeavour-, this was the menu. (April 2013, for the record it was spring and it was snowing)
Cream of asparagus with mint leaves
Mustard crusted rack of lamb, served with glazed shallots and tomatoes
Lamb’s lettuce salad with a lemon honey vinaigrette
Cheese nibbles (mostly goat and ewe)
Sitting around the table, eating and talking for a long time is one of our favourite pastimes, especially when being outside is not what you can say -warm and sunny-.
Glazed shallots and garden tomatoes
500g small garden tomatoes
salt and pepper
½ cup balsamic vinegar
Rack of Lamb
(2 chops per person is good)
1 -8 bone rack of lamb french dressed
1 tsp coarse sea salt
2 tsp dried or fresh marjoram
½ tsp black pepper
2 Tbsp whole grain mustard
Glazed shallots and tomatoes
Start by soaking the shallots in water for about 20 minutes. This will make peeling them easy. I only cut the root side and tear off the skin from there, leaving the leaf stalk end intact, which looks very nice when served.
Warm up a large skillet with olive oil. Pop in the peeled shallots and toss them around every now and then. Cook shallots until they start to brown, anywhere from 20 to 35 minutes. This will provide a sweet flavour. Add the tomatoes tossing around every now and then to get a wrinkled texture on the skins. Add salt and pepper to taste, followed by the balsamic vinegar. Turn up the heat to high and reduce the liquid. This will make the balsamic vinegar caramelise into a tasty glaze. The glazed shallot and tomatoes can be prepared ahead of time and reheated in a pan just before serving whilst you wait for the lamb to be ready and out of the oven.
Rack of lamb
There is a simple trick to a juicy oven baked rack of lamb. The following technique allows for a pre-prep time and a last minute finish in the oven.
1. Warm up a skillet large enough to fit the whole rack of lamb on medium to high heat.
2. Salt, pepper and marjoram the outer side [the concave side] of the rack.
3. Quickly brown the rack of lamb on the outer side, where you have added the spices, until you have a brown crisp layer. This should not take more that 8 to 10 minutes. Avoid over cooking.
4. Place the rack of lamb in an oven dish, browned side facing up and cover with mustard. You will not need oil as the fat from the rack will render enough so that it does not stick.
5. Preheat the oven before end cooking time to 150 degrees C – 300 degrees F.
6. Bake the rack from 20 minutes, for medium rare, to 30 for done(ish).
7. Just before serving, slice between the bones and plate.
Marjoram: Origanum marjorana, mint family (Labiatae)
Perennial: blooms in summer
Native to: Cyprus, Southern Turkey
Potential health benefits: Antioxidant, vitamins C, A, K, Iron, Zea-xanthin (dietary carotenoid)
Good planting companion: Everything