Lately at home, we have come to realize that artisan work is so much worthwhile that it absolutely has to be saved, or at least preserved. Small businesses need everyone’s support today more than ever. For this reason, my husband insisted that we, from now on, help local shops that are neighbors to our own business, and make them work instead of giving our money away to big chain stores. Especially for meat, quality is essential, and even though I’ve grown up on supermarket meat, I have to admit that going to the butcher’s for some specific pieces of meat sometimes can make a difference in taste, flavor and texture.
And so there is this little butchery about two short blocks away from where we work. It is a tiny shop with an even more tiny cash counter, and that does not have the regular refrigerated glass window tube-table in which the meat normally is displayed for customers to choose from. It only has a narrow rectangular table with just the space needed for the best pieces and the hot sales. The rest of the merchandise lies or is hung inside the cold room at the back of the shop. Beside the obvious quality of the meat, what I like about buying from the butcher is that he pre-prepares the meat within no time with good knives and machinery, and also I can ask about all the cooking tips I need. A butcher really is a specialist in his branch and I don’t see why I wouldn’t use his knowledge and services to their full extend. Why wouldn’t I, really?!
This time, I wanted to go for lamb for a change. I recently subscribed to Gordon Ramsay’s page, and the man is constantly pushing everyone in England to have a “Sunday Roast”, and lots of time it is either beef or lamb. I am mostly a chicken and beef consumer, but a nice lamb from time to time is pretty nice indeed. Easter is just around the corner, so I am sure there is no lamb shortage in town right now. My butcher suggested several seasonings when I went and bought a nice lamb rack. He said I could salt the rack and cover it up with Mediterranean aromatic herbs and a dash of olive oil. He said some people like it with Cumin, and some others like it with whatever flavor they enjoy because our region has so much to offer in terms of aromatic options. Here, see this beautiful raw lamb rack, there are 910 grams, that is almost a kilo. I went for an Asian-style marinade because this is how I like it the most, and this is how I ate it the very first time when I was living in China. Please do not try to hide your absence of surprise! Hahaha! At least, he, the butcher was surprised – because he doesn’t know me so well yet.
The butcher explained the cooking time in the oven would normally be 45 minutes at 180 degrees Celsius and the meat would come out just done and with a nice grilled coloring on the outside. But then he said that I could make the cooking time vary from 35 to 45 minutes if I like the meat a little light pink. I have tried it both ways, and now I can tell what’s best, in my opinion. I grill the lamb rack in the oven during 35 minutes, then let it rest for 10 minutes, chop it into individual pieces to make “lamb chops”, and finally grill them on a hot stone pan for 1 minute on each side, just the perfect time to give it a little grilled look. This way, I have a better control over the last minutes of cooking, and I can make sure the meat doesn’t go dry and overcooked, so that it stays juicy.
I forgot to take pictures after I grilled the lamb chops on the stone pan, which is a pity because it looked amazing (much more than this pink-ish color that I personally don’t find that attractive…). Also, you should keep some marinade on the side, heat it up to make it lightly caramelize, in case you eventually want to drip some sauce over the meat and enhance the overall flavors.
For information, the lamb ribs rack (displayed in my blue bowl) needs a bit less cooking time than the lamb chops because there is less meat and much more bones and fat in this part of the lamb (the animal). Cooking time will be around 25-30 minutes. The marinade is the same though, and can tolerate more sesame seeds, or even better sesame seeds can be used as a topping over the dish in the end. I would recommend cutting the ribs prior to coating with the marinade and prior to roasting in the oven, so that the marinade really coats a wide (and total) surface, and not only two small sides of the ribs. Scallion to top it all is a must. Eat with bare fingers, American style, it’s allowed!
- 1 lamb rack
- sesame seeds for topping
- scallion greens for topping
- 1 tbsp of sea salt
- 4 tbsp of Hoisin sauce
- 3 tbsp of chilli garlic sauce
- 1 tsp of Cayenne pepper
- 1 tbsp of black pepper
- 1 tsp of brown sugar
- 1 tbsp of ground ginger
- 2 tbsp of Chinese five spices
- 2 tbsp of Shaoxing wine
- 3 tbsp of soy sauce
- Prepare the meat. If you chose the Ribs, separate them with a sharp and solid knife or scissors. If you go for the lamb chops, keep the rack as a whole for now, and salt it.
- Prepare the marinade in a bowl. Combine all ingredients except the sesame seeds and scallions.
- Start rubbing the meat with the marinade, directly in the baking dish. Generously coat the lamb all over.
- If time allows, reserve in the fridge at least 2 hours. If not, then don’t!
- Preheat the oven at 180 degrees Celsius.
- When the oven reaches the desired temperature, put the lamb in it and start roasting as is.
- Baste with marinade about 2 or 3 times throughout the cooking process. The last basting should occur maximum 8 minutes before the end of the roasting time in the oven.
- Roast for about 30 minutes.
- I like a little grilling, if you too then increase temperature to 200 degrees C and keep grilling for 20 minutes (or until edges begin turning black).
- Take out of the oven.
- Display the ribs in a serving dish.
- If you made the lamb rack, let it sit for 10 minutes outside of the oven, then slice the lamb chops and finish grilling them one minute on each side in a hot stone pan.
- Sprinkle with sesame seeds and chopped green scallions.
- Serve warm. Eventually heat up what’s left of the marinade to accompany the lamb chops (but no need to add marinade to accompany the ribs).
Created and Written by Sophie Rebibo-Halimi. © 2017 All Rights Reserved.