Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Rack of Lamb with Cheese Risotto

I'd like to share a very nice little trick I've learnt from my friend George. Instead of sprinkling parmesan cheese on top of the risotto before serving, try to grind up some dried porcini mushrooms and then powder them on top of your rice. The extra flavor is quite fantastic and really very simple to achieve.



for 2 people:


Ingredients:

1 rack of lamb (could be replaced with a beef or pork filet)
1 teaspoon black peppercorns
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
handful of dried porcini mushrooms
1/2 teaspoon coarse seasalt
1 cup risotto rice (carnaroli or arborio)
1 large shallot, chopped
1 cup cheap white wine
2 tablespoons ricotta cheese
2 tablespoons mascarpone cheese
4 tablespoons ground parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon chicken stock
2 sage leaves
1 thyme or rosemary twig


Instructions:

Preheat the oven to 80 C. (175 F.)

Crush the peppercorns and salt with a mortar. This is my preferred method of grinding up salt and pepper because I like them to stay a bit coarse, but you can also use your regular peppermill and salt shaker.

Rub the salt and pepper mix all around your rack of lamb.
Heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil at highest temperature in a skillet.

To sauté meat of any kind, I like to use a stainless steel skillet to get the highest temperature possible.

Sauté the rack of lamb about 3 minutes on each side until you get a nice and dark crust all around. Then immediately place it in the oven in an oven-proof dish.
The beauty of this low-temperature method is, that your meat can stay in the oven for 30 minutes or even 1 hour and it will still be very tender and juicy.

Depending on the size of your rack, I would count on leaving the meat in the oven for at least 30 minutes (for a small rack) or up to 1 hour (for a big one). But don't crank up the temperature. To guarantee the tenderness and juicyness, you'll have to keep the temperature at the low 80 C.

Since the temperature in the oven is quite low, you can also add your dinner plates to preheat them without worrying that they'll brake.

Start preparing the stock. Put 2 cups of water into a small pot, add chicken stock, sage leaves and the thyme or rosemary twig. Heat up the stock over medium heat.

Grind up your dried porcini mushrooms. A mortar works best, but use your fingers as well, to get the powder as fine as you can. Put aside.

In another pot (or my preferred way, a non-stick skillet), heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium-high heat, add the shallots and sauté them until they start to golden a bit. Add the rice and mix until all the grains are covered with some of the olive oil. Pour in the white wine and stir until all of it is absorbed.

As soon as your rice is running a bit dry in the skillet, add some of the stock but never too much at the time. Keep on stirring. This process takes about 15-20 minutes.

Keep on tasting the rice to see if you like the consistency. Shortly before the rice is done, add all the three cheeses and mix well.

Remove the meat from the oven, cut it up and arrange nicely on preheated dinner plates around your risotto.

The big thing last, sprinkle your ground up porcini mushrooms on top of the rice and decorate with a twig of thyme or rosemary or anything else you find beautiful.

I served one of my favorite wines with this dish, a full bodied Amarone from italy. Enjoy!

This recipe was also submitted to "Design Within Reach" for their summer call for entries.

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