Tuesday, November 27, 2007
This weekend we did a whole bunch of projects around the house to prepare for some holiday guests. To show my appreciation to my husband- who busted his butt, and is a real meat and potatoes kind of guy- I decided to make this special dinner. Pan seared rack of lamb, potato gratin with fennel and onions, roasted baby golden beets and sauteed beet greens.
The gratin was a bit of work but worth it. The rest of the meal was a snap to prepare.
Beets: Cut the greens off, scrub them clean, wrap them in an envelope of aluminum foil, put foil packet on a cookie sheet and put in a 400 oven. Little beets (pingpong ball size) take around 30 minutes, big ones (tennis ball size) take around an hour. Open the packet (carefully- steam will come out) and stab a beet with a knife- if it slides through easily, they are done. Leave the packet open and let things cool a bit. The skins will rub right off with your fingers- no peelers or knives needed.
Although I happen to think the beets are delicious just like that, it can also be nice to have a little acid on there to offset the sweetness So I drizzled over a little honey-balsamic glaze. Also super easy (and good on a whole bunch of stuff). Put about a cup of cheap balsamic vinegar in a saucepan over medium high heat. Add about 2 Tbs of honey and let it reduce down until it sticks a bit to the back of a spoon. Take it off the heat and whisk in about a tablespoon of butter. Drizzle over just about anything.
Beet greens: Trim off the tops of the beets and slice into 1 inch strips, put in a large bowl of cool water to clean the grit off. Throw in a skillet with some olive oil and shallots, season with salt and pepper. Let greens wilt down a bit and add a squirt of chicken stock, put the lid on for a few minutes.
Gratin: Butter an oven safe dish. Thinly slice one onion and one bulb of fennel. Sautee in a little butter until they are browned a bit and soft. Peel 3 potatoes ( i used russet because its what I had on hand but pretty much any potato will do). Thinly slice the potatoes ( I used this cool ceramic slicer thing). Layer 1 potato's worth of slices in the baking dish, season with salt and pepper, spoon some of the onion fennel mix on top, shave over some parmesan cheese, repeat. Finish off with a layer of potato and shaved parm. Pour into the dish some heavy cream. Cover with foil and bake in a 375 oven for about 45 minutes. The cream should be bubbly and when you stick a knive in it, it should slide in easily. Take off the foil and let the top brown a bit (about another 5-10 minutes.
For the lamb all I did was generously salt and pepper, sprinkle a bit of fresh rosemary on top and a little olive oil. Put it meat side down in a screaming hot skillet. Resist the urge to touch the meat for at least a 5 minutes. Once the meat has a brown crust on it flip it over and put the skillet in a 400 oven. Leave it in there until a meat thermometer in the middle registers 140 for medium rare. Take the meat out and let it rest on a cutting board for at least 5 minutes before slicing into chops.