May 22, 2008

Crowning Glory

In the land of the Long White Cloud, just west of the Half Moon Bay, around campfires and in the warmth of the kitchen hearth, they tell the legend of the Wild Rose of Aotearea, a beautiful and noble queen who was a fierce warrior, a graceful chanteuse and was known for the indomitable courage of her convictions. A free spirit living up to her name, she thought that each day was a present and wanted all people to be the very best that they could be every day of their lives. So in honor of this mythical queen and the land whence she comes, here is a dish worthy of royalty.

You will need:

For the roast and the rub:

Two 6-8 rib racks of New Zealand lamb

2 tblsp olive oil

1 tsp kosher salt

1/2 tsp black pepper

6 cloves garlic, minced

1 tblsp each: fresh thyme, parsley, mint, chives and oregano - all chopped. Also, a sprig of rosemary, chopped.

A beer/ soda can

For the stuffing (optional, but why the hell not?!):

A link or two of sausage (or the trimmings from the Frenching of the ribs, if available - see below).
1 onion, chopped
4 cups of mixed mushrooms

1/2 cup chopped parsley

1 can chicken broth

2 tsp dried thyme

2 tsp dried sage or marjoram

2 tblsp butter/ olive oil combo

Salt and pepper to taste

For the sauce:

2 tsp white wine vinegar
1 tsp Dijon mustard

1 tsp honey

1/4 cup finely chopped mint

2 tblsp extra virgin olive oil


Form the crown roast by bending each rack of lamb in a semi-circle and tying together end-to-end, fat side out, at the base and at the center, with twine. Or you can get a prepared crown roast. If this is a DIY project then you will probably need to
'French' the ribs too. In that case save and grind the trimmings to be used for the stuffing.

Preheat the oven to 375 deg F.

Rub the lamb with 1 tblsp olive oil. In a bowl, mix all the rub ingredients with the remaining tablespoon of olive oil and apply to the lamb, pressing hard so it sticks to the meat (you know, actually
rub it in!)

Place the crown roast on a roasting pan, stick the can of beer in the middle to help the roast hold its shape and put the whole thing in the oven for 30-35 mins (130 deg F/ 10 mins per pound).
Remove from the oven, transfer to a plate, tent with foil and allow it rest for 15-20 mins. This is critical!

In the meantime, if you're making the stuffing, now would be the time to do so. Sauté the onion in a medium hot skillet in a olive oil/ butter combination for about 4-5 mins or till onions are soft and translucent. Add the mushrooms, season with salt to draw out the moisture and sauté for another 5 minutes. Add sage and thyme, cook for a minute or two and add the accumulated juices from the roast and the chicken broth. Cook for about 5-6 minutes, add the parsley and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper.

To prepare the sauce, combine the white wine vinegar, Dijon mustard, honey and chopped mint in a bowl, season with salt and pepper and mix in the extra virgin olive oil. You might even give it a pulse or two (no more!) in a food processor.

To serve, cut the string away from the roast, remove the beer can, place the stuffing in the center and serve with the mint sauce.

Carve at the table and you might just get some!