Rack of Lamb with Spiced Gastrique

Holiday 2016
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food and drink

BY: Lucy Waverman

Tired of garam masala and other spice combinations? Ras el Hanout is a North African spice mixture that is not hot but has a beautiful layered flavour. You can buy Ras el Hanout at some supermarkets and specialty shops that have a good Middle Eastern spice selection. The mixture varies and is usually handed down through families. The recipe here is my personal favourite as I have adjusted it to suit my taste. A gastrique is a reduced sauce with a touch of sweetness. This one enhances the lamb flavour. Serve with sautéed sliced zucchini and a combination of mashed roots such as potatoes, turnips and parsnips. Store any extra spice mixture for another use.

SPICED GASTRIQUE
2 cups (500 mL) veal or beef stock, homemade or store-bought, low sodium
3 tbsp (45 mL) balsamic vinegar
1 tbsp (15 mL) brown sugar
1 tbsp (15 mL) Ras el Hanout (recipe follows)
Salt

2 tbsp (30 mL) olive oil
2 racks of lamb, about 1¼ lbs (625 g) each
1 tbsp (15 mL) Ras el Hanout

1 Bring stock to a boil in a saucepan. Reduce heat and simmer for about 10 minutes, or until reduced to 1½ cups (375 mL). Reserve.

2 Combine vinegar, brown sugar and Ras el Hanout over medium heat, stirring for about 5 minutes or until sugar dissolves. Stir in reduced stock. Simmer gently for about 6 to 8 minutes or until sauce is thick and glossy and coats the back of a spoon. Season with salt if needed. Set gastrique aside and reheat when needed.

3 Preheat oven to 425°F (220°C).

4 Rub 1 tbsp (15 mL) oil into lamb racks, then evenly sprinkle over about 1 tbsp (15 mL) Ras el Hanout on each rack until well coated. Season with salt.

5 Heat remaining 1 tbsp (15 mL) oil in a large skillet over high heat and brown racks, 1 to 2 minutes per side. Place on a rack in roasting pan and roast for 25 to 30 minutes for medium-rare or until meat reaches desired doneness. Let stand 10 minutes before slicing.

6 Slice racks into individual chops, giving 3 or 4 per person, and drizzle with spiced gastrique.

Serves 4

RAS EL HANOUT
Double the recipe to have more on hand and use it on pork and beef. It will keep for up to 6 months. Occasionally I add 1 tsp (5 mL) star anise into it when I want a slightly more licorice profile. That works well with chicken, for example.

1½ tsp (7 mL) coriander seeds
1 tsp (5 mL) black peppercorns
1 tsp (5 mL) cumin seeds
1 tsp (5 mL) ground turmeric
½ tsp (2 mL) ground allspice
½ tsp (2 mL) ground cinnamon
½ tsp (2 mL) ground ginger
¼ tsp (1 mL) freshly ground nutmeg
¼ tsp (1 mL) ground cardamom
½ tsp (2 mL) salt

1 Toast coriander seeds, peppercorns and cumin seeds in a small skillet over medium-low heat for 1 to 2 minutes or until fragrant. Let cool slightly and process in spice grinder until fine powder. Stir in turmeric, allspice, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cardamom and salt.

Comments: Makes about 2 tbsp (30 mL)