I live to eat and love to cook. Welcome to my life!

December 18, 2011

A much needed time out!

If you are anything like the rest of the population at this wonderful time of year you are most likely overwhelmed, over scheduled and feeling like there is just not enough time to get anything done. Between work, family, shopping, holidays, birthdays and just STUFF I feel stretched to where I hardly have time to enjoy half of what I am doing. This weekend I planned some things to take me away from the craziness if only for a bit and did my damnedest to enjoy myself.

Oh hey...I actually cooked! Yeah...me. Who hasn't blogged since October probably because cooking at my house has consisted of cereal or an English muffin in the morning and heated up frozen chili from some random cooking spree three months ago. Even on Thanksgiving, my favorite holiday, I was so busy cooking and sipping champagne that I didn't have time to really sit back and enjoy the process (even though I loved the outcome). 

When a birthday in mid December for my friend Mo came along, my friend Sarah and I decided we needed a girls night so we could spoil our birthday girl with an awesome meal and a girls night with lots of wine, food and a relaxing night "off". Between Sarah's & Mo's insane schedules that include full time jobs, a 2, 5 and 7 year old and all the other fun things that go with them and my crazy ass work schedule we were able to squeak out a night where it would work for all of us.

Now the question comes up....what do we make, right? Well......Since the middle of November when I heard that Ventura was getting a new meat market specializing in local, humanely raised and butchered meats as well as some exotic and interesting meats I've been wanting to get over there and check it out.

From and aesthetic standpoint, the place is clean and very open, spotless floors, white walls and lots of glass. You can stand behind a glass pane and watch one of the lovely gentleman wearing a white collared shirt, bow tie and butchers apron slice up your meat to order, tie up a crown roast or in my case, French out a rack of lamb since I was feeling lazy. The meats are displayed in a nice big case and true to their claim of having good variety they were showing off venison loin, bison steaks, pheasant, rabbit and duck as well as gorgeous bone in pork loin chops, marbled rib eyes and freshly ground beef, turkey and bacon which I understand is a wonderful thing.

I'm thrilled to have them here and can't wait to see what they do next....I understand housemade sausages and charcuterie are on the to do list!

As for what I did to the lamb, I am pretty sure this is one of my top picks for rack of lamb recipes. It has a couple components to it and each by themselves would have been amazing, all together they had an awesome wow factor. The sausage crust was amazing on its own and the pan sauce was light but really flavorful. And the lamb? Freaking perfect. Thank you Ventura Meat Company, I'll be back!

Roast Lamb with Sausage Crust and Fresh Grape Pan Sauce
Adapted from a Bon Appetit recipe

1 cup halved seedless red grapes
1 cup Port
1 cup chicken broth
1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary

Sausage Crust and Lamb
1/4 cup halved seedless red grapes
1/8 cup halved pitted Kalamata olives
1/2 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
1/2 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
1 small garlic clove
4 ounces ground meat (the original calls for lamb, I used 3/4 beef & 1/4 turkey which VMC so conveniently had for me!)
1/4 teaspoon coarse kosher salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 well-trimmed racks of lamb
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1/4 cup chicken broth
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard, divided
1 1/4 cups fresh breadcrumbs made from crustless French bread

Preparation for sauce
Boil all ingredients in large saucepan until reduced to 2 1/3 cups, about 20 minutes. Cool. Puree in blender.

For lamb

Pulse grapes, olives, chopped rosemary, vinegar, and garlic clove in mini processor until olives are chopped. Transfer to bowl. Mix in by hand ground meat,1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper.

Sprinkle rack of lamb with salt and pepper. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in large skillet over medium-high heat. Add rack, meat side down, and cook until browned, about 5 minutes. Set on rimmed baking sheet, meat side up.  Cool lamb completely.

Add 1/2 cup broth to skillet. Boil until reduced to glaze, scraping up browned bits. Add to sauce. Cover and chill.

Spread each rack with 1 tablespoon mustard. Press sausage over top of each rack (layer will be thin). Cover and chill.

Preheat oven to 425°F. Combine breadcrumbs, 2 tablespoons oil, and 2 tablespoons mustard in medium skillet. Toss over medium heat until beginning to color, about 5 minutes. Press crumbs over sausage on each rack. Cut through crumb crust (not lamb) between bones to score. Roast until thermometer inserted into center registers 135°F, about 30 minutes for medium-rare.

Transfer lamb to platter; let rest 10 minutes. Pour juices from baking sheet into sauce. Simmer in small saucepan until reduced to about 1 1/3 cups, about 9 minutes (sauce will thicken slightly). Season with salt and pepper.

Note: The sausage crust can crack and fall off a bit, but not to worry, just pat it back on and devour, it still tastes great!

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