Sunday, October 11, 2009

One from Michael Mina

Olive Oil-Poached Rack of Lamb
Harissa Ratatouille, Rosemary-Scented Potatoes, Rosemary Gremolata
Recipe courtesy of the Michael Mina Cookbook

My school is off for Columbus Day for the first time ever, I believe, so I took the opportunity to cook up something a little more involved than my usual Sunday fare.  Needless to say, involved doesn't really do this recipe justice, as I ended up using practically all my pots and pans, completely dirtied up my kitchen, and ended up having my entire sink filled to the brim with dirty dishes.  Was it worth it in the end?  Well, keep reading.

I've had poached fish and chicken before, but this recipe intrigued me:  a rack of lamb poached in olive oil, along with traditional aromatics for lamb:  garlic, shallots and rosemary.  I set up one of my bowls over a simmering pot of water, very much the way I'd melt chocolate, but instead dumped in a half a head of garlic, some rosemary sprigs, a halved shallot and 3 cups of olive oil.  I brought it up to heat by bringing the water to a simmer, trying to level my oil temperature at around 135-140...too bad it jumped up to about 160 and I couldn't bring it back down.  Alas, I figured it would drop a bit when I put in my lamb, and it ended up leveling off at around 150, which is a little high a temperature for lamb to be cooked to, but I risked it.  After poaching for 25 minutes in the oil, I pulled the meat out of its bath, then browned it quickly for a minute or 2 on each side in a screaming-hot skillet.

While the lamb was cooking, I made the harissa sauce (roasted red pepper, garlic, red pepper flakes, cumin, coriander, caraway, parsley, olive oil, salt) in the blender and the gremolata (lemon zest, lemon juice, garlic, chopped rosemary, olive oil, salt & pepper).  The potatoes were cooked very similar to the lamb, but at a simmer as opposed to a poach, in a bunch of olive oil with some rosemary and shallots.  When they were done, they were fork-tender.

Let me tell you a bit about the ratatouille.  Red and yellow peppers, zucchini and eggplant all diced and sauteed, then set aside.  In the same pot, some onions, garlic and tomato paste, which is then supposed to get mixed into the vegetables.  However, this is where our story turns sour, because I burnt my hands on the pot where I was cooking the onion/garlic/tomato, and dropped the pot, which proceeded to spray tomato ALL OVER my kitchen.  I was PISSED (at myself), and I don't do to well when I'm that mad.  Fortunately, I still had some red onion and my tomato-paste-in-a-toothpaste-tube, and I was able to whip up some more real fast...but I was still really annoyed.  After the ratatouille was made, the harissa got mixed in, and it was time to eat.

How did it taste?  Well, the lamb ended up being perfectly cooked, and was flavorful and rich.  The ratatouille was interesting but enjoyable - Stephanie kept on saying she was surprised by it because the harissa was such an interesting flavor that was unexpected (but not unpleasant) when eating ratatouille.  The potatoes were...well...rosemary-scented and awesome.  I did have a Top Chef moment though, because I totally forgot to spoon the gremolata over the lamb - but Steph didn't even notice so I didn't say anything until afterwords.

The verdict:  DELICIOUS.  Would definitely make it again, and hopefully without the mess ;)


Stepha said...

You left out how it was ME who cleaned up the whole kitchen mess because you were so upset about the dropped pan? Tsk tsk.