Rack of Lamb with Creamy Smashed Rosemary Garlic Potatoes and Kale Saute

I have to admit, I enjoy Twitter, probably a bit too much.  In my defense, however, I have made many fantastic contacts and have - via technology - met and have spoken (Tweeted) with many knowledgeable and generous people.  Comedians, journalists, and, quite happily for me, many extraordinary Chefs. Among them is a gentleman who lives fairly nearby me, in the foothill town of Folsom, about sixty miles from me.  When we first got together, I was rather intimidated, but Chef Kurt Colgan is quite a generous man and a fantastic teacher.  He is supportive, instructs in a manner that enables you to  learn and not feel like an epic failure.  Although, I could not cut trim my rack of lamb correctly if my life depended on it.  It is all about learning, and my friend, Chef Kurt, is amazing at making culinary learning hysterically fun, not to mention fantastically delicious!  Chef Kurt and my culinary partner in crime, Miss Maria, came over to my little, humble place for dinner and a lesson on "Frenching" rack of lamb and how to cook it.  I cannot Even begin to tell you how much I LOVED that day, their company and our food.  Delicious!

Here is what we did, in more of a photo essay style than full on recipe.  

The first part of our lesson was about using the proper knives, and Chef Kurt displayed his large culinary knife set.  You can see three knives we were able to use to trim, or "French" the rack of lamb, removing excess flesh, fat and scraping the bones.  Miss Maria was quite the fast learner.  I think Chef fired me several times.  

I was the sous chef, however, my job being to create the crust for the racks, make the smashed potatoes with garlic and rosemary and saute the kale in extra virgin olive and garlic chips.  That was the easy part.  Frenching the rack was my epic fail.  But, like I said, it is about learning.  I took the lesson to heart, and I have one more rack left and will make that one of these days, skillfully french the rack and make Chef Kurt proud. 

For the crust, I finely chopped fresh rosemary and thyme, added salt and pepper and a good two cups of plain Japanese Panko bread crumbs together. Flavorful and aromatic.  In the meantime, Chef had us massage extra virgin olive oil onto each rack of lamb and add salt and pepper to it.  Chef Kurt brought one of his professional skillets in which to sear the rack.  

 Beautifully seared rack of lamb.  
Now to the herb crust!

Ingredients for the herb crust:

1/2 - 1 cup of Dijon mustard, separate from the rest
4-6 sprigs of fresh rosemary
8-10 sprigs of fresh thyme
2 cups Panko bread crumbs, plain
1 teaspoon sea salt
1+ teaspoons fresh cracked black pepper

Rub each rack of lamb generously with the mustard. Combine all the rest on a large platter, as you will be crusting the racks for to finish roasting in the oven.  Place the fairly cooled down rack onto the platter and, using your hands, pack down the bread crumbs all over the meaty part of the rack.  You want as much of the rack covered with the herbs and Panko mixture as possible. This is going to taste so good!

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 425 or 450.  

In a roasting pan with a rack in it, foil on the bottom of the pan, place the herb crusted racks.  Cover the exposed bones of the rack with foil.  Lean the racks against each other, bones against bones, and place in the oven.  Roast for eighteen to twenty minutes.  Do not open the oven door to check them. 

 When you remove the racks from the oven, the Panko will be golden brown, the fresh herbs will fill the kitchen with an amazing aroma.  The lamb will cause you to float to the kitchen like a cartoon character, trust me.  

Let the racks rest and get to your sides.  My sides were smashed potatoes with fresh rosemary and garlic.  I also added a good cup of Chef Kurt's homemade creme fraiche.  Delicious!!!!

In addition, to make sure we were eating healthy, I chopped and sauteed fresh kale with three tablespoons extra virgin olive oil and garlic chips, salt and pepper.  The aroma is delicious, and the greens on the plate are dark and inviting.  The two sides with the rack chops make for a really beautiful, elegant dish.  To serve, cut the chops off of the rack like between the ribs like you would barbequed ribs. 

 And here's the final product!

I made a balsamic, lemon zest and honey reduction sauce, which Chef drizzled over the rack and elegantly around the plate.  This is not a complicated dish to make, despite the trimming and scraping and delicate slicing to french the racks.  It is a balanced, flavorful dish that your guests will be raving about for years to come! 

You can follow Chef Kurt Colgan on Twitter @CafeTightLines
as well as on Facebook.  Look him up! Get to know him and tell him Martin sent you!

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