Monday, April 25, 2011

Easter Dinner, Part 1 of 3: Apricot Glazed Rack of Lambs

Next to Thanksgiving, Easter is one of the few holidays I enjoy celebrating. The Easter bunny, egg hunting, little girls in their pretty sun dresses, kids (and adults) getting sick over eating all their Easter candy, the beginning of spring, flowers, family, and eating: what's there not to love?! This time of year always feels so alive.

With spring and Easter also comes some of my favorite ingredients to cook like ramps, asparagus, and artichokes.  There's nothing like cooking in season with the freshest ingredients available.  I am so blessed to live in NYC where all of this is readily available.  The Union Square Greenmarket is my mecca where I know I can always find the best fruit and produce from the local farmers.

The market began in 1976 with just a few farmers and now has 140 farmers, fishermen, and bakers during peak season. It is open year round outdoors in Union Square on Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday from 8am-6pm. During the winter, those hours may be shortened depending on the weather.
The Friday of Easter weekend, I headed over to the market to pick up some ramps and Jerusalem artichokes from one of the farmers (they didn't have their sign up the two times I went to buy from them, but they are directly on the North-West corner right across from the Starbucks on Fridays).  More on ramps later on this week though for all of you curious readers! For now, just know that they are wild leeks. Then, I headed down to Trader Joe's down the street for the rest of what I needed. I was so excited to be cooking up a feast for my friend and I to enjoy!

This week, I will be releasing a recipe per day from my Easter menu.  On the menu for my Easter-themed feast is:

Asian Deviled Eggs
Fennel-Orange Salad
Glazed rack of lambs served on top of a Jerusalem artichoke purée and sauteed ramps
Profiteroles with cinnamon-rum ice cream

I released the Asian deviled eggs in yesterday's blog. 

Today's recipe will be the apricot glazed rack of lamb since there are several components to it.  While it may seem labor intensive, it is actually a very simple meal to put together.  It was probably no more than a half hour active labor.  The meal that comes together is really elegant and the Jerusalem artichoke (Also known as a sunchoke it has no relation to an artichoke at all! In fact, it looks more like what a potato and parsnip would look like if they had a child.) is so rich, sweet and decadent tasting. Paired with the sweet, garlicky ramps, it will leave your guests wondering exactly what it is they are eating. As for the lamb, I really like the pairing of the caramelized sweetness on the roasted lamb with the mild heat of the sriracha. I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as I did!
Jerusalem artichoke (aka sunchokes)

Serves 4

1 lb rack of lamb, frenched and trimmed by butcher already
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

For glaze:
1/4 cup apricot jam (this would be great with orange marmalade or a fig jam too)
1 tbsp sriracha (you can add another tbsp if you want more heat, this just gives it a tang)
3 tbsp hot water
2 tbsp canola oil
Pinch of salt and freshly ground black pepper

For Jerusalem Artichoke purée:
1 lb Jerusalem artichokes, cut into 1.5 inch cubes
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 cup whole milk (can be replaced with skim milk)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

For sauteed ramps:
3-4 bunches of ramps, ends trimmed and washed thoroughly (they are very dirty!)
1 tbsp canola oil
Pinch of salt

For lamb:
1. Take lamb out an hour before you want to put it in the oven so that the meat will rest and have a chance to come to room temperature.  This was a trick I learned from Thomas Keller's Ad Hoc at Home and really brings the flavor of meat out. Season both sides liberally with salt and pepper.
2. While lamb rests, start on the glaze.  In a small mixing bowl, add all the ingredients for the glaze and mix till it all comes together.  There should be minimal lumps.  If you need to, you can pop it into the microwave oven for 10-15 seconds to bring it all together. 
3. Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. 
4. Line a sheet pan with aluminum foil, put lamb on and liberally glaze both sides of the rack of lamb. 
5. Roast lamb for approximately 30-35 minutes in oven. Take out from oven about every 15 minutes to re-apply the apricot glaze.  
NOTE: The lamb should be done if you touch the top and it feels firm with a slight give. It should be a medium rare. If you like it medium, roast it for another few minutes. I would not recommend roasting it further, otherwise the lamb will be overcooked and dry. 
6. Let lamb rest for another 5 minutes before cutting into individual pieces.  This allows the meat to be super juicy and moist.
7. Serve immediately.

For Jerusalem artichoke purée:
1. While lamb is resting, add all ingredients into a medium size pot. 
2. Bring to a boil on medium-high heat and then bring heat to low and boil the artichokes until it is tender.  This is approximately 35-40 minutes. Cover while cooking.
3. Using an immersion blender, purée the mixture until smooth. Make sure you do not overblend it or it can become pasty.
4. Season to taste and mix together with a spoon.
5. This can also be prepared the night before and be reheated right before serving. 

For sauteed ramps:
1. Heat pan over high and add canola oil to wok or stir-fry pan.
2. Add cleaned ramps to heated pan and stir-fry for a few minutes until wilted.
3. Remove from heat and cover to keep warm while waiting to plate.

To plate:
1. Using a spoon, put roughly two large spoonfuls of the purée on the center of plate and work from the center out to create a cradle for the lamb.
2. Top with roughly 4-5 pieces of cooked ramps. Lay each one individually.
3. Lay one piece of lamb on top of the ramp and purée, bone-up. Cross the second piece on top, bone-up.
4. That's it! Bon appetit!!

Remember to come back tomorrow for part 2 of my Easter dinner!!

Union Square Green Market
North and West side of Union Square (located at the corner of 16th Street and Broadway)
Hours: 8am-6pm on Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday


  1. Great plating! I should try your Jerusalem artichoke puree. And maybe I can use that same glaze on something else. Everything sounds great!

  2. I think it would be really interesting on portobello mushroom, eggplant (or even a seitan!) which has more of a meaty texture.

  3. No portobellos here, sniff sniff. But ahhhh seitan! Luis made the most amazing seitan dish last night. Luckily I have the leftovers for lunch today!