Happy Easter! There are no pictures, sadly, I got too caught up in the cooking to snap any memories BUT I promise the story is still good!
Waiting until the last minute, I drove and illegally parked at the butcher’s bright and early Sunday morning. They had already sold out of their lamb shoulder (why was I so lazy Saturday?), so I had a change of plans – I bought 1 1/2 racks of lamb instead. As I drove to the grocery store, thinking on my feet about the switch in dinner menu, I decided “risotto and asparagus”! Making my rounds through the aisles of the store I was trying to remember all of the minor details of culinary school to magically come up with a risotto recipe. I had to really use my brain power for this one, once in depths of the store I lose all cell phone service, I was unable to call my husband for him to check my notes or search the reliable internet for guidance.
There I was off the grid and making it up as I went. After I picked out a pretty Easter lily and the asparagus I had to get creative. I wanted to make mushroom risotto because I thought it would be a great compliment to the rack of lamb, it would provide the starchy side dish without being a potato. Also mushroom just sounded good, earthy and springlike. So I picked out some white mushrooms, I grabbed the only bag of arborio rice (a short grain rice that is used for risotto that is responsible for the starchy creaminess). Then a light bulb went off in my head! I know that in culinary school we had used dried porcini mushrooms in something…but what?… was it the risotto? should I get that for tonight? if I wanted it, where would it be?…why doesn’t my stupid phone work in this stupid market?….I was on to something, I needed to find ground dried porcini mushrooms because I used it in school, and if I got home and my recipe said not to use it I would just have it for later – the search begun. Where oh where do they stock these? Am I losing my mind? Was what I am thinking of actually what I am looking for? Oh man look at the time, I’m starving and I need to get home – so I left without my ground dried porcini mushrooms.
The internet has since proved I was right – there is such a thing and apparently available in Whole Foods. My school recipe notebook proved that I actually never made mushroom risotto in school, however we did make risotto du jour – so this counts as a notebook recipe because it was my risotto of the day. I still don’t know what we used ground dried porcini mushrooms for but I remember it being delicious.
Overall, it turned out great! I had a lovely sous chef helping me keep the rice stirring during the loooonnngg 25-40 minutes it takes to make. She was a champ! At the end I stirred in some seasoning (salt), parmesan cheese, sautéed mushrooms, and a little lemon juice to round out the flavors.
Now on to the rack of lamb. In school, I successfully cleaned off the rack of lamb and cooked it according to our demonstration and lesson – however it was probably more rare than it should be.
BUT look at that sauce – I did not pull that off as well as I would have liked for Easter dinner.
On Sunday, I had a similar experience but I bounced back! I seasoned with salt and then pan seared the lamb in clarified butter to give it color. After that I covered the rack with foil and popped it into the oven until it seemed done (about 25-35 minutes at 350 degrees). LET. IT. REST. The outside pieces were perfect. The inside pieces needed to go back in the oven for a few short minutes – darn.
LE JUS A L’HARISSA – I’m not in school anymore, so I didn’t have an endless supply of random stocks and this called for lamb ju with harrissa. Have you ever had harrissa? It’s a great spicy spice that I had my friends search for at their fancy grocery store before coming over.
I tried to come up with something at home to resemble the same sauce we had in school. I started by making a fortified stock. I sacrificed a lamb chop by putting it in a pan with chicken stock to create a lamb flavored ju. It was weaker than I would have liked, and it didn’t reduce down as much as I would have liked but hey you don’t always get what you want. I did whisk in the harrissa and hopefully the sauce added something to the meal?…
All around I received praise for a job well done.
We ended the meal with a slice of carrot cake, another culinary school recipe (I’m so glad I did this recipe portfolio)