Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Peppercorn Encrusted Rack of Lamb with Black Sambuca Glaze, Braised Fennel, and a Warm Morel, Purple Sugar Snap Peas and Mache Salad on Californian Wild Rice

Alright, I have been waiting to make this one for years, and either lamb has been out of season or I couldnt figure out how I wanted to balance it out. I think ive very much pulled off what I set out for.

The glaze was probably my biggest concern. Once the sambucca reduced down, would it be too sweet to function as part of the dish. To combat this I reduced about 1/4 cup of sugar down with 3/4 of a cup of black sambucca with a few cloves of garlic, and a good splash of beef stock. Reduce this down until it starts bubbling on itself, which should be a good indication that once it cools down, it should have a nice sticky consistency that the peppercorns will adhere to. This was then cooled and brushed onto the lamb, then coated in cracked black peppercorns, seared in a hot cast iron to a nice rare.

The fennel is easy enough to accomplish, quarter and clean the fennel while bringing some stock, touch of wine, thyme, and bay to a boil. Introduce the fennel, and then cook in a 450 degree oven until soft (about 30 minutes). It is important not to overcook the fennel, it should be fork tender yet still retain shape. There are almost no better joys in life then braised fennel.

The rice was actually a random find at the grocery store, yet I dare say ive never had a better rice... brand to come soon.

The mache, morel, and purple sugar snaps was purely a spur of the moment conception at the grocery store. Ive never had mache before, mostly because I have never seen it around these parts. The morels were dried morels (fresh would be better) and they were re hydrated in chardonnay, and then towel dried. The excess moisture by not drying will cause them to cook longer, and end up steaming more then sautéing. This was all cooked very simply, a quick saute together, some wine to deglaze, and then finished off with the wilted mache rosettes.

I made a pan sauce with the trimmings of lamb, some shallots, wine and stock, and also served a bit of the sambucca glaze. All in all I am very impressed with how this turned out, although the peppercorns may require a slight balance with bread crumbs or better application as I could see how it may be a touch too much for most tastes.