This is a recipe for the little artists in your life. At daycare pick-up on Tuesday I found Daughter 2 sitting at a table with a paintbrush and cup of water, happily “painting” on her face while the other kids played with Legos and dress-up. I seized the opportunity:
Me: “Honey, what are you doing.”
Daughter 2: “Painting myself.”
Me: “I see. (Pause.) If you hurry up and put on your coat you can help me paint something in the kitchen.”
Daughter 2: “Paint? What is it”
Me: “Something for dinner.”
Daughter 2: “Paint for dinner?”
Me: “Um, yup. (Pause. Shake head.) Except it’s not paint. It’s molasses. And you can help me paint it on some lamb.”
And voilà, we had a record fast exit from the classroom. I may have to come up with additional ways to bring art into the kitchen so that pick up goes as smoothly every night.
This recipe breaks other conventions, too, by making a rack of lamb easy and fast enough to be a weeknight treat. It’s as simple as slathering some pomegranate molasses on the lamb and then packing on a quick pistachio-parsley pesto. Pop it in the oven and dinner is ready in about an hour.
The one ingredient that may be a little intimidating is the pomegranate molasses, but don’t let it scare you. Many well-stocked grocery stores carry it in the international aisle. To demystify this ingredient even further, it’s only reduced pomegranate juice that has become thick and sweet as the liquids evaporate. And boy, is it a fun medium for a three-year-old with a pastry brush.
Indulge your inner artist with a final drizzle of pomegranate molasses over the finished lamb chops, and maybe a flourish of pomegranate seeds on the top.
It has color. It has composition. And it has something that many other works of art only wish they had: two thumbs up from the littlest Stout Sprout.
Pistachio-Crusted Rack of Lamb with Pomegranate Molasses
1 rack of lamb, approximately 1.5 – 2 pounds, fat cap trimmed and rib tips frenched (alternatively, use two 1-pound racks of lamb)
1/4 cup pomegranate molasses, plus additional for drizzling over finished lamb chops
1 cup shelled raw pistachio nuts
1 cup fresh parsley leaves
Between 1/4 and 1/2 cup olive oil
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
Pomegranate seeds and whole shelled pistachio nuts for garnish (optional)
Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
Line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil and place an oiled baking rack on top of the foil.
In a food processor or blender, process the pistachios, parsley leaves and just enough olive oil to create a thick pesto-like paste. Add the salt and process to combine.
Using a pastry brush or silicone kitchen brush, brush the lamb generously with the 1/4 cup pomegranate molasses taking care not to coat the rib bones…just the lamb meat.
Press the pistachio pesto over all areas covered by the molasses, adhering it to the lamb meat.
Transfer the rack of lamb to the baking rack, bone-side down, and bake for approximately 30 – 45 minutes or until the lamb reaches an internal temperature of 135 degrees Fahrenheit. The crust will begin to brown but you don’t want it to burn. If necessary, place a small tented square of aluminum foil over any portion of the lamb that appears to be getting too dark.
Remove the lamb from the oven and allow it to rest for at least 10 minutes before carving. Working carefully, transfer the rack of lamb to a cutting board and slice between the ribs to create individual lamb chops. Some of the crust will fall off. You can press it back on or simply serve small pieces of the crust along side the lamb.
Serve with hot Basmati rice or, as we did, with roasted Mediterranean vegetables and chickpeas. (But that’s a post for later this week!)
Kid rating: Three stars, though that splits the difference between Daughter 2 who had three lamb chops and declared this a “five-star” dish, and Daughter 1 who had two bites of a lamb chop and gave it zero stars. Guess who my budding vegetarian might be….
Parent rating: Four stars, but again, I’m splitting the difference between my husband and myself. I really liked the pistachio crust and happily snacked on the bits that fell from the lamb as I carved it. I also loved the way the pomegranate molasses gave both the lamb and the crust a sweet/bitter flavor. But the propensity of this crust to crumble as it is carved led my husband to give it between two and three stars. It just didn’t deliver on the promise of being “crusted.” I will work to prefect the technique but in the meantime I think it’s worth giving this recipe a try in your kitchen. Let me know how it turns out for you.