Monday, 20 February 2012

Provencal Rack of Lamb, Accordian Potatoes, and House Vinaigrette

Continuing on with my review of Laura Calder's French Taste, I've decided to cook Provencal Rack of Lamb, Accordian Potatoes, and a salad with Calder's House Vinaigrette. Now, I know I already did a meal of meat and potatoes, but seriously, it's meat and potatoes. How could you go wrong with that? How can you go wrong with roasted comfort and satisfaction that everyone enjoys? You never can. However, this time I did add a fresh, light salad in the mix to bring more balance.

Let's start with the potatoes.

Accordian Potatoes
Makes 4 servings

2 pounds medium-small potatoes, such as Yulon Gold or red potatoes
Bay leaves and thyme sprigs
Salt and pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons melted butter

Cut the potatoes as if you were slicing them, but don't go all the way down. You still want the bottom to be intact. Then take a bay leave and fresh thyme sprig and slip between. You can use more and slip in every cut if you want. And of course, salt and pepper. I invested in some proper Fleur de Sel from France, and it really makes the cooking experience so much more enjoyable, rather than just sprinking fine salt from a shaker. I like to feel the textures of everything that I'm cooking, and really being aware of how much is going on. Plus, I find the big chunks of sea salt taste a lot better, too.

Cutting the potatoes this way sounds easy, and it is, but it can be hard to get the hang of at first. Don't slice the potatoes only half way, you have to go all the way to the bottom, as close as you can without cutting off, or else it's going to be hard to put the herbs in between the folds. If you happen to cut one or two off all the way, like I did, it's not a big deal. We're all learning! Also, make sure you have a good, proper knife for slicing potatoes. I started off with a little bread knife and it was a lot harder. The right knife really does make all the difference when cooking.

Mix the olive oil and melted butter together, and spoon over the potatoes.I used a little bit extra, and when the potatoes were done cooking I spooned some of the leftover hot oil and butter mixture over the potatoes on my plate.

Now, on to the lamb.

Provencal Rack of Lamb
Serves 2

1 rack of lamb (about 8 ribs) frenched
salt and pepper
3-4 tablespoons of olive oil
3-4 tablespoons of Dijon mustard
1/2 cup fresh bread crumbs
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 handfuls of chopped fresh herbs, such as parsley, thyme, and rosemary

There were 4 of us eating, so I doubled the recipe.

Whisk together the olive oil and Dijon mustard. It takes a minute to get it to the consistency pictured above, stick with it.

Get your herbs chopped and parmesan grated. I used fresh rosemary and thyme, however I couldn't find any fresh parsley, so I used freeze-dried. It doesn't really matter either way. (The most important thing to me personally is that they're organic. Organic herbs and spices have the best flavour!) I also made the bread crumbs myself with some baker's white bread. I took it out earlier that day to let it get a little stale, and crumbled it in a food processor.
Tip: Go all out and buy the fresh parmesan. Trust me, it's worth the extra money and time preparing. I honestly never even liked parmesan until I had it this way, that stuff you buy in the plastic container pre-grated does not compare. Don't waste your money on cheese that tastes like plastic, and chances are it's not even the real stuff. If it doesn't say "Parmigiano Reggiano" and it's not in solid/block form, move on. I would rather do without it than suffer through eating the other stuff. I cannot be more adamant on the subject.

Salt and pepper the lamb, starting with the ribs curved upwards.

Slather the olive oil/mustard mixture over.

Pack the herb and bread crumb mixture onto the lamb.


I put the lamb and the potatoes in the oven at the same time on 425F for roughly 40 minutes (I like my meat well done). If the potatoes are done sooner than that, take them out, and cover with tin foil to keep them warm while you wait for the lamb to finish.

While this was in the oven, I prepared the House Vinaigrette:

1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 garlic clove, minced
2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
a drop or two of balsamic vinegar
a drop or two of soy sauce
a pinch of beef stock powder
3-4 tablespoons olive oil (I always use extra-virgin), to taste
salt and pepper

Mix the first ingredients together, and slowly whisk in the olive oil. Salt and pepper to taste. Pour over some mixed field greens, and you have salad!
When the lamb is done to your liking, take it out of the oven and let it rest for at least 15 minutes on a platter before you cut it.

Doesn't that just look incredible!

There's no "buffet style" when I cook. I like to put everything in the middle of the table so we can eat around it and enjoy.

This was a beautiful, homestyle, classic French meal, perfect for a Saturday night when everyone is in (or before they go out) and when you have time to enjoy making it (although it doesn't actually take that much time!).

The lamb was so tender, the breadcrumb mixture was flavourful with just enough crisp, the potatoes were excellent, you could rip the slices off with your fingers and just pop them into your mouth, fun and decadent, and the thyme in both of the recipes unified the lamb and potatoes very well.

The salad was light and fresh, a nice touch on the meal, the vinaigrette not too olive-y and not too tart from the vinegar, but a nice mix. The beef stock powder and soy sauce, while unusual, worked together and made the vinaigrette a well rounded dressing, just as Calder promised it would.
I made this over a week ago now, and we're still raving about it. Needless to say, there were no leftovers. A real success :)

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