Fall into Cooking Featured Recipe from James Peterson's Meat: Roast Rack of Lamb
Meat is based on the seemingly paradoxical philosophy that we should eat less meat than the 8 ounces per person per day Americans put away now. Instead of so much meat, we should eat better meat. Insisting on better quality and approaching meat with a degree of understanding will lead butchers and ultimately the meat industry to raise animals in a humane and sustainable way.
I give a recipe for rack of lamb because it's one of those cuts that intimidates but that is really very simple. The whole trick is cooking it to the right degree of doneness. This is very easy to determine by pressing against the two ends of the rack and taking it out of the oven as soon as the two ends feel firm and bounce back to the touch. --James Peterson
Makes 4 main-course servings
1 American rack of lamb (8 chops) or 2 New Zealand racks of lamb (16 chops total), about 1 1/2 pounds, ribs frenched
1 pound lamb stew meat or trimmings, cut into 1/2-inch strips
1/2 onion, coarsely chopped
2 cups chicken broth
Let the rack(s) come to room temperature and season all over with salt and pepper. Preheat the oven to 450°F.
Spread the stew meat and onion on the bottom of a roasting pan just large enough to hold the rack(s). Place the rack(s) on top. Slide the pan into the oven and roast for about 25 minutes, or until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the center of the roast without touching bone reads 125°F to 130°F or until the meat feels firm when you press both ends of the rack(s).
Transfer the rack(s) to a platter or cutting board, tent loosely with aluminum foil, and let rest for 15 minutes before carving.
While the rack(s) are resting, make the jus. Put the roasting pan on the stove top over high heat and stir around the pieces of meat until the meat is browned and any juices have caramelized on the bottom of the pan. Discard the fat and return the pan to high heat. Deglaze the pan with 1/2 cup of the broth, scraping up any brown bits on the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon. Boil down the broth until it caramelizes into a crusty brown layer with a layer of clear fat on top. Pour off the fat, return the pan to high heat, and deglaze the pan with a second 1/2 cup broth, again boiling it down. Deglaze the pan with the remaining 1 cup broth, stirring until the crust has dissolved into the liquid, and then strain the liquid through a fine-mesh strainer into a warmed sauceboat.
Carve the rack(s), cutting between the ribs. Pass the jus at the table.
Cookbook author Peterson is now his own best brand, with 13 cookbooks and six James Beard awards to his credit. The brand’s attributes? An advocacy of natural, fresh, locavore-type ingredients; thorough explanation of basic cooking terminology; photographs that teach; and easy-to-follow recipes. His latest on all things meat doesn’t disappoint. Though his introduction addresses vegans, admonishing all to “follow your conscience” about the consumption of animals, the rest of his text advocates only the use of the best lamb, rabbit, beef, and chicken available. Thoroughly review the first two chapters; in them Peterson sets forth the proper ways to sauté, grill, braise, and poach (among other methods), illustrates such fundamental preparation methods as julienning a leek and sectioning a turnip, and identifies the flavors associated with different international cuisines. Next, the fun: 175 recipes and, more important, instructions and sidebars to ensure that expensive roasts and whole birds emerge with great taste. Learn the three secrets to perfect holiday turkey, how to cook game like venison and caribou, and the right brining time. Familiar dishes will comfort, including braised picnic ham, beef Wellington, chicken liver mousse, and coq au vin. A new bible for any cook. --Barbara Jacobs