Get this, my mom told me today that the reason I didn’t remember having mac & cheese growing up is because I didn’t like it! Apparently I always refused to eat it and would push it away and eat cereal for dinner instead! I mean I know I was an extremely picky eater growing up, but what kid doesn’t love mac & cheese?
My parents are visiting this weekend and my mom said she always marvels a bit over the fact that I now enjoy cooking and have a food blog, since she always struggled to diversify my palate. It wasn’t until I went to college that I really started trying new foods, and a trip through Europe after graduation solidified my foodie ways. I actually kept a travel journal during that trip and have a list of 32 new foods that I tried for the first time – things like raspberries, duck, prawns, quiche, lobster, salmon, cherries, mussels, and crepes. How did I go 21 years without thinking I’d like all these things? It sort of makes me sad thinking about it, but I am doing my best now to make up for all that lost time!
One of the 32 items was lamb – I had it twice during our trip and now have finally tackled making it at home myself. I’ve braised it a couple times this year and recently bought a Frenched (bones exposed) rack of lamb at Costco for $18 and crossed my fingers that I wouldn’t mess it up. Thanks to my trusty meat thermometer it turned out wonderfully and for a fraction of the price it would cost at a restaurant! Some of the almonds fell off the crust because I manhandled the pieces a bit while I was trying to figure out how to cut around the bones on the rack, but it was still very tasty and I’ll know how to do things more delicately next time around. I served it over a fennel, artichoke, and chickpea mash that is very versatile and would also be great with chicken – yum!
Roasted Rack of Lamb with a Fennel, Artichoke, and Chickpea Mash
Fennel, Artichoke, and Chickpea Mash:
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large yellow onion, chopped
1 bulb fennel, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 14-ounce jar roasted artichoke hearts, drained
1 15-ounce can chickpeas, drained
Juice from half a lemon (2 tablespoons)
1/2 teaspoon salt
Roasted Rack of Lamb:
1/4 cup spicy brown mustard
Juice of half a lemon (2 tablespoons)
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 16-ounce Frenched rack of lamb, with 8 bones per rack, trimmed of all but a thin layer of fat
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon canola oil
1/2 cup finely chopped almonds
For the fennel, artichoke, and chickpea mash, heat olive oil over medium high heat and sauté onion and fennel for 5 to 7 minutes or until tender; add garlic and sauté 1 additional minute. Add fennel mixture, artichoke hearts, chickpeas, lemon juice, and salt to a food processor and pulse until smooth, about 2 minutes.
For the lamb, heat oven to 400˚F. Mix mustard, lemon juice, and garlic in a small bowl. Pat lamb dry and season with salt. Heat a large heavy skillet over high heat until hot. Add oil to the pan and brown the lamb on all sides, about 2 minutes per side, for 6 minutes total. Rub seared lamb with mustard mixture and coat with almonds.
Place lamb in a 13×9-inch pan and bake at 400˚F for 15 to 20 minutes or until lamb reaches 145˚F when a thermometer is inserted diagonally into the center of the meat for medium. Tent with foil and let rest for 10 minutes and then cut into chops. Serve over fennel artichoke mash. Makes 4 servings.
Nutrition: 492 calories, 21.5g fat, 11.3g fiber, 35.1g fat per serving
Cost: $6.33 per serving