holidays & recipes: passover rack of lamb provencal by jacques pepin
In terms of food for Easter and Passover many different varieties come to mind, some of them very particular to individual families and some of them universal. One of the most commonly eaten foods, worldwide, on both holidays is leg of lamb. Lamb is a symbol for both the Jewish and Christian faith.
Lamb is widely available at springtime. The Jewish tradition of eating lamb during Passover, the holiday that commemorates the Exodus, originated with the sacrifice of lamb that each Jewish family made during the Exodus. For Christians it was Christ who became the Passover Lamb and the lamb became the symbol for His sacrifice on the cross. Lamb symbolizes rebirth, rejuvenation and sacrifice.
In America making a leg of lamb is something done once a year, for the spring holidays. In some cultures cooking with lamb is a part of their every day fare. For a generation of Americans lamb became famous, but not in the form of a delicious roast. An adorable puppet named “Lamb Chop” was a part of many American children’s childhood.
I was a small child when I first saw “Lamb Chop”. And, at that young age I was astonishment to learn that Shari Lewis named her famed puppet “Lamb Chop” after her favorite meal. For years I would turn my back on my family’s traditional lamb pie, which was made once a year for Easter Sunday. However, the aroma was so enticing that one year I gave in and tasted it. While it was dry (forgive me Nonna), it did have a delicious flavor.
I make lamb once a year, maybe twice. I prefer to make a delicious rack of lamb and not my family’s traditional lamb pie. A perfectly seasoned rack of lamb will draw out the wonderful natural flavors and who better to coax out these flavors than Jacque Pepin? Along with the recipe for rack of lamb Provencal from “Essential Pepin”, Jacques Pepin offers some very sound advice, especially when preparing a holiday meal for a large crowd:
“Since rack of lamb is expensive, serve it as part of a complete menu, preceded by a first course and followed by a salad, then dessert. The more elaborate the menu, the smaller portions of meat required.”
Rack of Lamb Provencal (Jacques Pepin)
1 (single) rack of lamb (about 1 ¼ pounds), trimmed of most of the surface fat
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon black pepper
2 shallots, minced
3 tablespoons chopped parsley (fresh)
1 garlic clove, minced
1/8 tspn thyme (or herbs de Provence)
1 oz firm white bread processed into ½ cup crumbs
2 tbsp butter, melted
½ cup Basic Brown Sauce (Recipe to follow. Make this in advance.)
1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
2. Heat a large heavy skillet over high heat. Sprinkle the rack of lamb with salt and pepper and place meat side down on the skillet. Brown the meat and then holding the rack with tongs, sear it on the bottom. (This sears the lamb on all sides, not cooking it.)
3. Remove lamb from the skillet. Set the skillet aside and place the rack meat side up in a roasting pan.
4. Combine the shallots, parsley, garlic, dried herbs, breadcrumbs and melted butter in a bowl, mixing lightly with a fork.
5. Press the mixture over the top of the rack of lamb.
6. Roast for 12 to 15 minutes. Place under the broiler for a minute or two if the bread crumbs don’t brown enough when finished.
7. Transfer rack of lamb to a plate, let rest, on top of the stove for about 10 minutes.
8. Skim the excess fat from the skillet and add the brown sauce. Stir to melt all the juices. Strain the sauce before serving.
9. Carve the rack of lamb between the ribs to serve.
4 pounds veal or beef bones (shins, necks, tails..talk to your butcher)
1 pound chicken bones (necks, wings, backs)
2 cups diced onions
1 cup diced carrots
1 cup diced celery
6 garlic cloves, crushed but not peeled
1/3 cup all purpose flour, dissolved in 1 ½ cup water
¼ cup dry white wine
¼ cup tomato paste
8 quarts cold water
2 tbs dark soy sauce
1 tsp black peppercorns
3 bay leaves
1 tsp thyme
1. Put the bones in a large stockpot and cook over high heat, stirring occasionally, for 15 minutes. Reduce heat to medium and cook for another 15 minutes, until they are browned and have rendered some fat. (There should be enough fat on bones and in the skin to brown the bones.)
2. Add the onions, carrots, celery and garlic. Cook for another 15 minutes or until vegetables are lightly browned.
3. Drain the bones and vegetables in a colander to eliminate the fat and return them to the pot.
4. Add the flour mixture, tomato paste, water, wine and soy sauce, peppercorns, bay leaves and thyme to the pot and bring to a boil. Then, reduce the heat and simmer slowly, uncovered for about 8 cups. Skim off and discard the foam. Strain the sauce.
5. The sauce can be kept in the refrigerator for up to 1 week or divided into small containers and frozen.
This is a fantastic brown sauce and well worth the effort that yields enough for a lot of uses. Give it a try; you will be happy with the results!
Model: Canon EOS 5D Mark II