By Keri White
As with many folks this year, our Rosh Hashanah gathering will be quite small — probably just my husband and me.
Rather than dwell on that being a sad thing (which, admittedly, it is) I am attempting to prepare a special meal that I would not likely serve for our typically large crowd.
Rack of lamb is delicious, but pricey, so to feed 10 guests, our usual headcount, the butcher tab would be quite steep. But for just the two of us, it is a special occasion splurge. Ditto the Tzimmes Anna, a riff on a fussy potato tart that I would never attempt for a large group, but a small version for two is both manageable and festive.
Rack of Lamb
Serves 2 generously
I prefer to slice these into chops to ensure that the meat catches the flavor of the wonderful marinade and the chops cook evenly. But you can certainly coat, cook and carve this as a whole roast, which offers a dramatic presentation if carved at table.
In that case, after marinating, just cover the outside with mustard and press the bread crumb mixture on the exterior of the rack. The whole rack will need more time in the oven, but the key to rack of lamb is not to overcook it. An internal temperature of 125 degrees takes you to rare, 135 to medium-rare and 145 to medium, which is as far as you should go for optimum flavor and texture in a cut of this quality.
For 1 rack of lamb, trimmed and sliced into individual chops: Depending on the size of the rack and the chops, this may serve up to four people, but the small “lollipop” lamb chops, which are deliciously tender, are quite small.
½ cup olive oil
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
Juice and zest of a whole lemon
4 cloves garlic, crushed
2 teaspoons Dijon-style ground mustard
2 tablespoons of white wine
Generous shakes of salt and pepper
For lamb chops:
¼ cup fresh parsley, chopped
¼ cup fresh rosemary, chopped
¾ cup panko bread crumbs
⅓ cup mustard
Mix the marinade ingredients in a large bowl, sealable container or zipper bag. Add the lamb chops and coat them thoroughly. Marinate for 2-24 hours.
Mix the herbs and panko in a small bowl.
Heat your oven to 425 degrees. Remove the chops from the marinade and place them on a rimmed baking sheet.
Spread a thin film of mustard on each chop, and press a spoonful of the bread crumb mixture on top of the mustard.
Roast the chops for 12-15 minutes to desired doneness; no more than medium. Let the chops rest for about 5 minutes before serving.
This is a riff on a fussy French potato dish called potatoes Anna, which I never make. It requires peeling potatoes (strike one), cutting them in uniform micro-thin slices (strike two), clarifying butter (strike three), arranging the potato slices in artful, concentric circles (strike four) … you get the picture.
But I thought that for just hubby and myself, I could do a version of this that was not terribly difficult to make, kept the festive flair of the meal, gave a nod to tradition with the honey and autumn root veggies and delivered some panache.
Step one was to remove the butter from the recipe; I swapped it for canola oil and olive oil, which I laced with honey to symbolize a sweet new year. (With its high flashpoint, the canola oil in the pan keeps the dish from burning in the stovetop portion of the cooking, and drizzling the layers with olive oil adds a wonderful depth of flavor.) The results were pretty fabulous and might just induce me to make this for a bigger group. Next year in Jerusalem.
1 medium-sized sweet potato, peeled and cut into thin, even slices
1-2 large carrots, cut into thin, even slices
1 tablespoon canola oil
⅓ cup olive oil
1 tablespoon honey
Salt and pepper to taste
Heat your oven to 400 degrees.
Heat the olive oil and honey in a small, microwave-safe measuring cup for about 30 seconds; stir to blend.
Coat an 8-inch ovenproof skillet with the canola oil, and place a single layer of sweet potato slices and carrot slices in the bottom of the pan. Drizzle with a bit of the honey/oil mixture, sprinkle with salt and pepper and press the vegetables down to compress them slightly. Repeat this layering process until all the ingredients are used up.
Heat the skillet on the stove over medium until the bottom starts to brown and become crisp, about 5 minutes. Check this carefully with a thin, flexible spatula.
When the bottom begins to crisp, put the skillet in the oven and bake for 30-40 minutes, or until the vegetables are cooked through and the top is crisp and slightly brown.
Remove the skillet from the oven, allow it to set for a few minutes and slice the vegetables into wedges.