Monday, April 6, 2009

Easter Dinner 2009

For Easter this year, Boyfriend and I are heading down south - somewhere warmer and sunnier. As such, we will not be at home to celebrate Easter or have any of the super yummy Easter food. In the US, our family usually celebrates Easter with a brunch buffet. Someone makes a breakfast casserole filled with hash browns, breakfast sausage, eggs and cheese. Sometimes we have waffles, or scones, fresh fruit and ham. We eat and then we sit around in a daze thinking about dinner. That's how my family rolls. We're not exactly religious people - religious holidays are reasons for us to cook up a storm and then sit down to eat it.

This year, being far from home, I decided to make an Easter dinner utilizing ingredients in season this time of year in Norway - primarily, lamb. Over lunch the other day, I discovered that lamb was the traditional Easter food and decided to make a rack of lamb at home. So on the Easter Menu: Garlic and rosemary crusted rack of lamb with minted mashed potatoes and lime mint asparagus. Sounds GREAT!

And it was! There were a couple of snafus. The recipe called for an obscene amount of salt in the crust that didn't occur to me until I made the crust for the lamb. I tried to fix it and the adjustments are reflected in the recipe below. The potatoes called for a ricer to push the cooked potatoes through but I don't have one. I tried to use a shortcut instead and used my handheld blender to puree the potatoes. Big mistake. BIG. Instead of making silky smooth mashed potatoes, I made a gluey, gummy, mess that tasted ok, if nothing like the mint that was steeping in the cooking liquid. The true star, for me, was the asparagus. It was cooked just right, not over done, and the hit of lime juice at the very end added brightness to the dish. Also, this is my first rack of lamb and it came out perfectly medium well. Next time I'll aim for medium but due to the quality of the lamb, it was still super tender and juicy. Norway has awesome lamb.

Herb Crusted Rack of Lamb
Adapted from:
1/2 cup fresh bread crumbs
2 tablespoons minced garlic
2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil

1 (8 bone) rack of lamb, trimmed and frenched
Salt and pepper for the rack of lamb
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F (230 degrees C). Move oven rack to the center position.
In a large bowl, combine bread crumbs, garlic, rosemary, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Toss in 2 tablespoons olive oil to moisten mixture. Set aside.
Season the rack all over with salt and pepper. Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large heavy oven proof skillet over high heat. Sear rack of lamb for 1 to 2 minutes on all sides. Set aside for a few minutes. Brush rack of lamb with the mustard. Roll in the bread crumb mixture until evenly coated. Cover the ends of the bones with foil to prevent charring. (I didn't do this and it worked out ok).

Arrange the rack bone side down in the skillet. Roast the lamb in preheated oven for 12 to 18 minutes, depending on the degree of doneness you want. With a meat thermometer, take a reading in the center of the meat after 10 to 12 minutes and remove the meat, or let it cook longer, to your taste. Let it rest for 5 to 7 minutes, loosely covered, before carving between the ribs.

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