Confession Wednesday- On religion

My feelings for certain chefs border religion. Thomas Keller comes to mind. Alice Waters is other-worldly. Their respective ‘bibles’ include a variety of cookbooks, most of which I own and read…religiously. I have done my part in spreading and preaching the gospel by gifting several of these cookbooks to potential believers. Devotional Alice Waters seasonal and local produce fills every recipe, and ritual observances, such as making Keller’s garlic confit are performed monthly in my household. I live it and breathe it in cult-like ways.

The anticipation began to build up last week- Thomas Keller in Colorado- Wednesday afternoon at Williams Sonoma, signing copies of his AdHoc cookbook. Last night I thought of what I’d wear. And I shaved my legs. My favorite and most able wingman, Beth, was coming along so I felt safe. Driving there I knew I was nervous – my feet were frozen but I was still sweating. Beth brought her own wingman, her 14 month old boy- and this little but fanatical wingman to the wingman got me to the front of the line: babies first!

And there I was face to face with Saint Thomas of Napa at the Cherry Creek Mall in Denver. He turns out to be a very pleasant man. I shared a few things about myself. He was curious and candid, and when I showed him my battle wounds- -three large 6 month old scars I inflicted on my arm during the sacrament of the Veal Breast recipe from the French Laundry cookbook– he advised on long sleeves when searing meat and shared his impression that women scar more severely and more lastingly.

Poof! Before I knew it, the moment was over and I am still under a spell. Cooking is the only way to cope so here’s Keller‘s Herb Crusted Rack of Lamb, a recipe from the AdHoc cookbook, of course.

And if the suspense is killing you from my last post, the news is that I fluked into Aspen Food and Wine this weekend. My first time at this event – three days of lavish grand tastings, insightful seminars, mingling with much more affluent and established food and wine lovers and top chefs from all over the country. Seminars are with Thomas Keller (two sightings in one week!), Mario Batali, Masaharu Morimoto, Tom Colicchio,Rick Bayless, and José Andrés. Heaven!

For up to the hour updates on Aspen Food and Wine and an exclusive look at the festivities, follow me on Twitter.

Herb-Crusted Colorado Rack of Lamb
with a honey mustard glaze, an AdHoc-inspired recipe

Ingredients: 1 whole frenched Colorado rack of lamb; salt and pepper; canola oil; 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard; 1 1/2 tablespoons honey; 3 tablespoons (1.5 oz) unsalted butter- room temperature; 3 garlic confit cloves(which I made again this weekend!); 3/4 cup dried bread crumbs; 1 1/2 tablespoons finely chopped Italian flat leaf parsley; 1/2 tablespoon minced rosemary.

Other things you need: a roasting rack; a pastry brush, and yeah, the garlic confit!

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

Score the fat covering the meaty side of the rack of lamb in a crosshatch pattern. Don’t knick into the meat with the knife- stay on the fat. Season with salt and pepper, preferably overnight.

Combine the mustard and honey well in a bowl and set aside. In a bowl, combine the breadcrumbs, chopped parsley, and minced rosemary. Set aside. Combine the butter and garlic in a small food processor (or if you must, a small blender) and puree until smooth. Pour into the breadcrumb mixture and combine but don’t overmix- you want everything to come together ever so slightly.

In a large cast iron pan, heat up a 1/4 inch of canola oil on medium-high heat. When hot, set the rack meat side down in the hot oil and sear until golden brown trying to melt as much of the fat off the meat as possible.

Transfer the meat on a large plate lined with a paper towel which will absorb the dripping hot fat from the lamb.

Brush the seared side of the rack of lamb with the mustard mixture then spread the breadcrumb mixture over the lamb pressing gently to make it all adhere to the meat.

Set the roasting rack in a roasting pan. Once you have your bread crumbs set on the meat transfer it to the roasting rack. Roast for 25-35 minutes until the center of the meat gets its temperature up to 128 to 130 degrees.

Remove from the oven and shhhhhh, let the lamb rest for 20 minutes to allow it to keep cooking to medium rare. You really don’t want to overcook Colorado rack of lamb. That would be sinful.

And sign up for the tweets right here- it should be a fun weekend!

Food Photography by Jennifer Olson

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  • Monet

    Jennifer, You are adorable. I loved hearing you recount your chef-meeting experience, and the pictures of that lamb are stunning! Yeah for Colorado!

  • A Plum By Any Other Name

    I am so jealous you met Thomas Keller AND got into Food and Wine. You lucky lady! VERY impressive.

  • Andra

    Monet- well, Jennifer is adorable but she is my good friend and photographer. Check out her site: Meeting Keller was really fun, a nice highlight for me.

    Plum- I feel lucky to be able to do this. It is just an exciting time in my cooking world.

  • Lori Lynn

    How wonderful for you! I lived in Aspen in the late 70's and worked as a prep cook at some of the top restaurants then (Ute City Bank, Gretl's, Sayat Nova at the Hotel Jerome). Except for the lack of skiing, it's the best in summer. Have a great time, looking forward to hearing about it. Neat photos with TK!

  • Magic of Spice

    What a fantastic post…Your site is wonderful! And that rack of lamb is exceptional:)

  • Andra

    Lori- I agree- Aspen rocks in the summer and this weekend the weather was stunning.

    Magic of Spice- thanks for stopping by. The rack was pretty delicious!

  • Lawyer Loves Lunch

    A lawyer who loves Thomas Keller? We should be friends… or at the very least blogging pals :)

  • Jackie

    Oh wow. Thomas Keller. Just… wow. I'm kinda jealous right now.

    Actually the reason I wanted to drop by and pop a comment on this post is because I have a lamb recipe which is remarkably similar to yours! It's my signature dish, and, maybe somewhat embarrassingly, I worked out the other week that I've actually made it for every single boyfriend I've ever had and they all loved it. What's that saying about men, their hearts and the way in is through their stomachs…? ;)

    Your lamb looks like it's cooked perfectly – delicious!

    Jax x

  • Victoria K.

    He's wonderful, isn't he? One of the kindest, most down-to-Earth people I've met!! He totally deserves all of his success :) PS Your rack of lamb looks divine!