For the last day of our “Putting it all Together” class at the University of Richmond, we were going to prepare a plated 3-course meal of which the main dish was going to be a something-crusted rack of lamb. By something, that meant I did not know whether it was going to be herb-crusted or nut-crusted. This did however, make me think of the wonderful pistachio-crusted lamb rack that I had prepared from Patrick O’ Connell’s book, Refined American Cuisine. I have not made it in a year, and that was a shame because it was very delicious and the carrot reduction that went with it was simply sublime. Perhaps it was time I made this again as it would prepare me for the cooking times I needed for the class (I seem to freeze when I am in a different kitchen environment but that will be the subject of a different post J.)
So, last Saturday I went and bought the carrot juice and ginger. All the other ingredients I had at home … or so I thought. I was digging through my freezer and realized I was out of lamb racks! I nearly got frostbitten fingers because I desperately wanted to find that darn lamb rack! All I had were chops, which I normally used for grilling but I guess they will have to do. (Mental note to self: I really need to find a way to organize that freezer. I have a jumble of duck breasts, pork belly, lamb shanks, frozen morels from last year, and God knows what else… no pig’s head though … you all have to check out Freya’s site to find out what she did with one … brave woman!)
Having the lamb in chop form presented a problem. It would be hard to stand each piece on the roasting pan — I guess I’ll just have to try and make them behave.
To prepare the pistachios, I just used a handy nut chopper. I loved this because you can choose coarse or fine ground without turning your nuts into paste, as you are likely to get from a food processor .
Since I have made this carrot juice reduction before, I knew I had to start it ahead of time so I would not be blind sided with a sauce that had not reduced enough when everything else was done. The beauty of this is: you can prepare it ahead of time and simply reheat it. Unlike hollandaise, which has a short shelf life this sauce keeps beautifully. For one thing, it contains crème fraiche, which is an absolute favorite ingredient of mine to use.
Crème Fraiche tastes like a cross between sour cream and heavy cream. It has the nuttiness and tanginess of sour cream with the sauce binding capability of heavy cream. It is hard to find in regular supermarkets. Locally, in Richmond Va, Ellwood Thompson carries it in 6 oz. tubs. But since I’m afraid of running out of this precious item, I usually split a big 4.75 lb. tub with a friend of mine who orders it from a restaurant supplier. You can also make crème fraiche by heating heavy cream and adding some buttermilk to it. I have not tried this method yet but I am tempted to do so for emergency crème fraiche purposes.
The combination of reduced carrot juice flavored with ginger and enriched with this amazing cream is a taste so rich and versatile it can even be used to flavor seafood dishes.
Pistachio-Crusted Lamb Chops with Gingered Carrot Sauce
Adapted from Refined American Cuisine by Patrick O’ Connell
Gingered Carrot Sauce
16 ounces organic carrot juice
½ inch chunk of ginger
½ cup crème fraiche
Salt and freshly ground white pepper to salt
6 pcs. Lamb Chops
½ cup chopped pistachios
¼ cup mustard
½ cup brown sugar
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
For a dish so spectacularly tasty, it was a breeze to make. Just remember to allow yourself enough time to make the carrot sauce. When you coat the lamb with the mustard mixture make it thick enough so that the pistachios will adhere to the lamb.
For the Gingered Carrot sauce
Place the carrot juice and ginger root in a 2-quart saucepan and simmer over medium heat whisking occasionally until reduced to ½ cup.
Remove the ginger root and slowly whisk in the crème fraiche. Salt and pepper to taste and set aside. This can be reheated before serving.
For the Lamb Chops
Preheat oven to 400 F.
Season the lamb chops , arrange in a roasting pan (try to stand them up) and bake for about 30 minutes.
Meanwhile , in a small mixing bowl whisk he mustard and brown sugar together. Using a pastry brush, coat the meat with the mustard mixture then roll each piece in the chopped pistachios. Return to the oven and bake for an additional 25 minutes for medium rare. Cook longer for desired meat temperature.
To serve, arrange lamb chops on a plate and drizzle with rewarmed gingered carrot sauce.