Saturday, February 27, 2010

Savory Grilled Racks of Lamb With A Red Wine Reduction Sauce And Creamy Potatoes Au Gratin

I was rummaging through my freezer last week, in search of anything that would catch my eye when I found a New Zealand rack of lamb that I'd bought at Sam's Club. I had totally forgotten I even had it. We were going to be watching the Olympic Alpine skiing that night and had invited our best friends over, so I decided this would definitely be a worthy meal. The best part about the New Zealand rack of lamb from Sam's is that it comes with 2 racks per package, making it perfect for four people. I do apologize for the lack of more pictures, but company was coming so I didn't really have the time.

I'd forgotten to mention to our friends that I'm such a rabid skiing fan. I scream. I yell. I cry. I'm a mess during the winter Olympics. Because once, 35 years ago, I was good enough for the pro skiing circuit. Maybe... before injuring my knee for which they had no surgery back then. It happened like 2 weeks before the Big Race (the Benson & Hedges Cup. Yes, once upon a time tobacco companies sponsored sporting events). So, yeah. I'm a rabid fan. Of course, I had both knees fixed once they came out with the Arthroscopic surgery and I still go skiing every year, but I was living in Texas by then. Anyway, I think our friends were a bit shocked at the gamut of emotions I can run through during a ski race. Then, of course, I had to go and bore them with the technicalities of the downhill and the Giant Slalom. However, after having had a good meal, they were more than happy to be bored and shocked by my behavior. So, let's get to the recipes, shall we?

Grilled New Zealand Racks of Lamb:

Place both racks of lamb in a large plastic bag and add either Italian dressing or another that you like. Also add sea salt, pepper and fresh rosemary. Allow to marinate in fridge for at least 2 hours. About 20 to 30 minutes before cooking, remove the bag from fridge to allow the racks to come to room temperature.

Fire up the grill or use charcoal heated in a chimney. When grill is ready, remove the racks from the bag and place over hot fire. I usually pour a little of the marinade over the racks to make the fire flare up for a moment. I then grill them approximately 5 to 6 minutes per side, on the edge of the fire. I do this so that the little bones don't get completely fried by the fire. I also use the old hand test, which has never failed me. When done to desired temperature remove from grill and allow to rest for at least 10 minutes. Carve and serve with a red wine reduction sauce, Potatoes Au Gratin and a green salad.

Red Wine Reduction Sauce:

2 tablespoons of minced shallots
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1cup red wine (any hardy red wine can be used)
1 tablespoon of veal demiglaze (available in a jar) diluted in 1 cup of hot water

1. Melt butter in small saucepan over medium heat.
2. Add shallots and cook until golden, about 3 minutes.
3. Increase heat to meduim high and add vinegar.
4. Cook another 2 minutes, and add the wine.
5. When sauce is reduced by about half, add the diluted demiglaze.
6. Cook until the liquid volume is again reduced by half.

Note: This sauce takes approximately 20 to 25 minutes to prepare. It can also be made 1 day ahead of time if you prefer. Reheat over medium-low heat.

Au Gratin Potatoes:


4 russet potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced

1 onion, thinly sliced

salt and pepper, to taste

3 tablespoons of butter

3 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 cups whole milk

1-1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese


Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (or 200 degrees C). Spray interior of casserole dish with cooking spray.

Layer about half of the potatoes into the bottom of the prepared dish. Top with thinly sliced onions and finally, the remaining potatoes. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.

In a medium size saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Whisk in the flour and salt, stirring constantly, about one minute. Stir in milk. Cook until mixture has thickened.

Add cheese all at once, stirring until melted (about 30 to 60 seconds). Pour mixture over the potatoes and cover the dish with aluminum foil.

Bake approximately 1-1/2 hours in the preheated oven. I usually allow this to stand for 5 to 10 minutes. Enjoy!