Saturday, February 12, 2011

Valentine's Day Menu #1: Smoked Rack of Lamb with Wilted Pea Shoots & Blueberry Sauce

Handmade gifts are always more meaningful to me. It's easy to go out and drop some quick cash on a gift, but making something is from the heart and paid for in currency far more precious than money: time.

The same goes for cooking. Eric and I avoid the traditional "go-out" dates like Valentine's Day, Friday night, and brunch (though I do drag him to brunch about once a year). We're even encouraging people to stay home at Smokin' Pete's. Granted, we would prefer that they pick up a Love Combo at our restaurant.

Nothing says I love you like a homemade meal. Especially one that takes time to prepare, like barbecue. Hey! There's an idea. Need some suggestions? I thought you'd never ask. You know your love one's tastes best, so cook his or her favorites, but here is one of two Valentine's Day meals I'll post this weekend.

Grilled and Smoked Rack of Lamb with Pea Shoots & Blueberry Sauce
This one will impress your love. Make it a weekend event and go shopping together at a farmer's market this weekend. If you're interested, read my post about American vs. New Zealand Lamb. I don't know why, but it has always been one of my top read posts.

1 full rack of lamb, uncut
1/2 cup olive oil

3 T Kosher salt and 1 T black pepper
3 T dried mustard
3 T ground oregano

The Greens
2 small bunches pea shoot greens. Find these flavorful greens at farmer's markets. Substitute any hearty green if you can't find them.
Half of a fresh lemon
Salt to taste
Shaved Parmesan

The Sauce
1/2 cup fancy blueberry preserves (with lots of whole blueberries in it)
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
Fresh cracked pepper
Garnish with fresh golden raspberries (optional)
Serve with roasted fingerling potatoes or other potato dish.

1. Make a charcoal fire in half of your grill. I used a kettle Weber.

2. While coals are getting hot, rub lamb rack first with olive oil, then with spice mixture. Let sit out while you get the grill ready.

3. Once coals are red hot, rake to one side, single layer, get grill grate hot. Put whole rack on grill to sear, bone side first, for 3-5 minutes. Flip and sear fat side. Put lid on to minimize flare ups, but keep vents open.

4. Move rack to indirect side. Add a few wood chunks to fire. Close lid, half shut the vents, and cook to medium rare.

5. While meat is cooking, saute cleaned pea shoots. Make sure you've removed the woodier stems. Pea shoots are full of flavor, but can be touch. Saute in a hot pan with olive oil. Salt. Squeeze lemon after greens have wilted. Turn to low and cover for 10 minutes. Serve with shaved Parmesan.

6. Pull lamb when internal meat temperature (be sure to insert into the meaty middle) reads 135 degrees. It will raise to 140 degrees while it rests.

7. While it rests, make a quick sauce of blueberry preserves and balsamic vinegar. Boil down (reduce) for 5 minutes. Add pepper.

8. Cut the lamb and place over the greens. Drizzle the sauce and garnish, if desired, with fresh golden raspberries.

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