The Promise of Spring
Classic rack of lamb to celebrate Easter and so much more this season
This year, I welcome Easter with open arms. We’ve had our share of dismal, cold, wet weather this year. The barren landscape is quickly taking on its spring lushness. Wild dogwood, native azaleas and delicate bridal wreath add bright splashes of color amongst the greening of willow, cypress and oak trees. Spring has at last arrived heralding the celebration of Easter. With Lent coming to a close, Easter looms ahead like a light at the end of a dark tunnel. It’s time for feasting and hopefully family gatherings if COVID doesn’t interfere. If weather cooperates, we can have our Easter egg hunt in our oak-shaded yard on Bayou Teche.
And the menu? Baked ham and potato salad? Lamb rack? Maybe chicken barbecued on our old barrel pit?
I posed my ideas to my husband who quickly voted for the lamb.
When serving the spinach, garnish with some crumbled feta for a little extra flavor.
To make the roasted garlic puree, preheat the oven to 375 F. Put about 10 garlic cloves in the center of a square of aluminum foil and season with salt and black pepper. Bring the corners of the foil together to make a small bag. Roast for 30 to 40 minutes, or until garlic is soft. Remove the garlic from the bag and cool. Peel and combine with 1 tablespoon olive oil and pulse in a small food processor.
Rack of Lamb with Rosemary and Mustard
1 tablespoon oil
1 trimmed rack of lamb,
about 1½ pounds
1 cup dried fine bread crumbs
2 tablespoons chopped
fresh parsley leaves
2 teaspoons chopped fresh
½ teaspoon freshly ground
1 tablespoon Creole or
2 tablespoons roasted
- In a heavy large skillet, heat olive oil over high heat. Add lamb and cook, turning, until browned on all sides. Remove from skillet and let cool.
- In a small bowl, toss bread crumbs with parsley, one teaspoon of rosemary and pepper.
- In another bowl, combine remaining teaspoon of rosemary with mustard and garlic puree. Spread mixture evenly over lamb. Pat seasoned bread crumbs onto mustard coating. (The lamb can be prepared to this point up to eight hours ahead. Cover and refrigerate until two hours before roasting.)
- Preheat the oven to 500 F. Place lamb on a rack set over a shallow roasting pan. Put lamb in the center of oven and immediately reduce heat to 450 F. Roast for about 20 minutes, or until a meat thermometer inserted into the center registers 120 degrees for medium-rare. Remove from oven, cover loosely with aluminum foil and let rest in a warm place for about 10 minutes. Carve lamb just before serving by slicing between ribs.
On the Side
Spinach With Pernod
Spinach is a great side dish for lamb. This recipe is quick and easy.
Heat 4 tablespoons of butter and 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add 2 tablespoons of chopped shallots and stir for 30 seconds. Add 8 cups of baby spinach (stems removed) and toss to coat with the butter and oil. Cover and cook until wilted, two to three minutes.
Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste and add 1 tablespoon of Pernod. Toss and cook uncovered for about 30 seconds or until wilted. Serve immediately.
Makes 4 servings
Potato Onion Upside Down Pie
Makes 4 Servings
Another easy side dish with lamb is roasted fingerling potatoes tossed with olive oil and rosemary, but this upside down pie is delicious.
2½ tablespoons butter
12 sprigs thyme, strip the leaves from the stems
1 large onion, sliced somewhat thickly (a tad more than ¼ inch thick) (keep the onions together — do not separate into rings)
1 pound red potatoes, washed and very thinly sliced
2 tablespoons olive oil
sea salt and cracked black pepper
½ cup crumbled feta
1 cup grated mozzarella
Preheat oven to 400 F. Melt butter in a 9-10 inch cast-iron skillet over medium heat. Add thyme and onion and cook for 5 minutes, being careful not to break up the onion.
Place potato, oil, cheeses, salt and pepper in a bowl and toss to mix. Arrange potato mixture gently on top of the onions in the skillet. Transfer skillet to oven and bake for 45 minutes or until golden brown and cooked through. Allow to cool for about 5 minutes, then turn upside down on a platter to serve.