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Charred Rack Of Lamb with Honey-dates and Cumin

Lamb
1/2 c Honey
1 Onion, chopped
5 Garlic cloves, chopped
2 tb Olive oil
2 tb Ground cumin
2 Racks of lamb, trimmed
Coarse salt
1 lg Fennel bulb, trimmed
1/2 c Olive oil
Salt & freshly ground pepper
2 Russet potatoes, unpoeled, cut into 1-inch cubes, parboiled about 15 minutes, patted dry


Sauce
2 tb Olive oil
2 Shallots, minced
2 tb Ground cumin
1 tb Ground coriander
1 tb Minced peeled fresh ginger
5 Garlic cloves, chopped
2 c Lamb Stock*
8 Pitted dates


Lamb Stock
2 lb Lamb neck bones
6 c Water
1 Onion, coarsely chapped
2 Celery stalks, coarsely chopped
1 Carrot, coarsely chopped
1 Bay leaf
6 Whole peppercorns


For lamb: Combine first 5 ingredients in large nonaluminum baking pan. Add lamb, turning to coat. Cover and refrigerate at least 4 hours or overnight.


Preheat oven to 325'F. Fill 8x8-inch baking pan with coarse salt. Set fennel in salt. Roast until just tender, about 90 minutes. Cut into quarters.


Increase oven temperature to 375'F. Heat 1/4 C oil in heavy ovenproof skillet over medium heat. Add fennel quarters. Season with salt and pepper and toss to coat with oil. Roast in oven until crisp, about 25 minutes.


Meanwhile, remove lamb from marinade. Season with salt and pepper. Heat remaining 1/4 C oil in another heavy large skillet over medium heat. Add lamb and brown well on all sides. Surround lamb with potatoes, tossing in oil to coat. Transfer to oven and roast meat to desired doneness, about 20 minutes for medium-rare.


For sauce: Heat oil in heavy medium saucepan over medium-low heat. Add shallots and next 4 ingredients and cook until shallots are translucent, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes. Add stock and simmer until sauce is reduced by half, stirring occasionally.


Remove lamb from skillet. Cut meat off bone, removing each loin in 1 piece. Cut each piece of meat into thin slices. Divide slices among plates.


Toss dates with potatoes. Divide among plates. Set 1 fennel quarter on each plate. Spoon sauce over lamb.


*Lamb Stock - makes 2 cups. Preheat oven to 400'F. Place bones in heavy large roasting pan and roast until well browned, turning bones occasionally, about 30 minutes. Pour off drippings from pan. Add 2 C water to pan and bring to boil, scraping up any browned bits. Transfer contents of roasting pan to heavy large saucepan.


Add 4 C water and all remaining ingredients. Simmer until liquid is reduced to 2 cups, about 1 1/2 hours. Strain stock through sieve, pressing on solids. (Can be prepared 3 days ahead. Cover and refrigerate.)


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