Julianne and I have come to love the taste of lamb. Too bad it’s getting so expensive. When I find a nice rack of lamb or leg that’s not too expensive I always pick it up. Tonight I made a porcini crusted rack of lamb along with Israeli couscous and glazed carrots. That sounds like a lot of work but it was pretty easy to put together. The lamb and the carrots were the simplest parts of this meal. The couscous needed the most attention, however; it turned out really REALLY good.
I started by making the porcini crust for the lamb. I’ve made this before and it always tastes fantastic. Why mess with a good thing? The earthy flavours of the dried mushrooms go very well with lamb. The lamb was cooked on the BBQ under indirect heat. My new grill has three sets of burners so I simply put the lamb in the middle and turned on the burners on either side of it. This grill gets very hot so I was able to keep those burners on medium. I did turn the middle burner on low a couple of times to get some colour on the meat. I always seem to have this same issue with crusted lamb… The fat cap on the top side separates and pulls up so there’s a section that is without crust. Anyone know how to fix that? Maybe I should save some of the crusting spice and apply it while it’s cooking. Gonna have to give that a try next time.
Julianne and I were first introduced to Israeli couscous at the Sonora Room Restaurant at The Burrowing Owl Estate Winery near Oliver, British Columbia. It was a truly amazing meal. Since then I’ve looked for ways to incorporate it into my cooking. Israeli couscous goes well with lamb especially if you add one of lamb’s traditional accompaniments; mint. I used to think that couscous was a grain. It’s actually a pasta that you cook like rice. Israeli couscous has bigger grains and it’s been lightly toasted. This gives it a different texture and flavour than regular couscous.
My Israeli couscous started with lightly frying some onions and garlic followed by simple mixed frozen vegetables. Once that was happy I added the couscous to the pan and stirred it around for a bit so every grain was coated with the flavours that I had just created. I poured in beef stock and brought the mixture up to a boil. Simply reduce the heat to a simmer and wait for the liquid to absorb. Once it was finished I chopped up some mint and stirred it in. This stuff turned out to be very tasty indeed.
The carrots were so simple it’s not even funny. I just boiled the carrots in water and when they were done I added butter, garlic and honey. Sweet and tasty carrots with the bare minimum of effort.
I was cutting apart a rack of lamb one time and it just sort of naturally fell into this spread out arrangement. Ever since I’ve been presenting my lamb like this. It looks spectacular and really makes you want to dive right in and start eating.
1 cup of carrots
1 tbsp butter
1 clove of garlic
1 1/2 tsp honey
1 tbsp chopped fresh tarragon
Boil carrots in water for 15 minutes or until fork tender. Drain. Add butter, garlic, honey and tarragon and stir. Told you it was simple.
Lightly Minted Israeli Couscous
1 3/4 cup Israeli couscous (that’s how big the package was)
1 3/4 to 2 cups beef or chicken broth
1/4 of an onion (chopped)
1 clove of garlic
1 tbsp butter
1/2 cup mixed frozen vegetables
1 tbsp finely chopped fresh mint leaves
Finely chop the onion and garlic. Place the onion and butter in the pan and sauté on medium heat until translucent. Add the garlic and cook for another seconds to a minute. Add the frozen vegetables and cook for another minute. Stir in the couscous and keep stirring until all the grains are coated with the butter mixture. Pour in the beef stock and turn heat up to high. Once it comes to a boil give it a stir and reduce heat to low to simmer. It takes about 10 minutes for the liquid to fully absorb. Theres room to play here. Give it a little less time and it will be a bit saucy. Let the liquid completely absorb and will be more like rice. The choice is up to you. Once it’s done to your taste add the mint and stir.
Porcini Crusted Rack of Lamb
1 rack of lamb
enough porcini crust to cover nicely (recipe here)
1 – 2 tbsp olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
Prepare the porcini crust. Coat the lamb in olive oil and pat on the crusting spice. Use aluminum foil to cover the frenched ribs of the rack of lamb. If you don’t do this the ribs can become really brittle and may crumble when carving or eating (not fun). Cook on indirect heat on your grill or at 375 degrees in your oven. I use a digital meat thermometer and take the roast out when it hits 145 degrees for medium rare. Once it hits the right internal temperature I remove it from the oven and let cover it in aluminum foil to rest for about 5 – 10 minutes. Carve the rack into individual chops and serve.