Saturday, May 14, 2011

Srping Lamb and Fiddleheads

Rack of lamb inspires in me a feeling of gratitude. Maybe because it is usually a special occasion meal, or maybe it is the fact of the bones. The little bones curving up, evidence that this was an alive animal, with a tender rib cage. Either way, this particular spring feast was just because. Just because it was a beautiful day, because Grandma was coming over for dinner, because Donn and Maryrose of Northland Sheep Dairy have such exquisite lamb, and because there was another spring treat besides lamb: baby fiddlehead ferns.
Coral likes to hold her little bone and eat it like a lamb lolly pop. Before long, the girls have fat shining off their chins. Such a little bit of meat, each rib just a few mouth fulls, but it satisfies deeply. The layer of fat, the sweet aroma of grassfed animal protein, it is so nourishing that a little goes a long way. One rack is enough for the five of us.
Greasy fingered and smiling, the talk at the table is of summer. All our plans, our hopes, all the things we are looking forward to. We grip our wine glasses and toast again and again to all that we have recently accomplished. To Colby getting over pneumonia. To Coral learning to pump her legs on the swing. To Craig home from another trip. To Grandma soon to celebrate her 80th. To me, to me for not folding the clothes when I could write, and writing. And another toast, just because, we are so happy at this table together, and we are so grateful for the love and for the joy.

Rack of Lamb:
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Take the lamb out of the fridge a few hours before cooking. French the bones (if not done already) and score fat with a sharp knife. Rub salt and pepper into the lamb.
Finely dice a few ramp bulbs (or garlic), a few fresh mint leaves and some rosemary. Put into a mortar, add a tiny bit of sea salt and grind into a paste. Add a few salt packed anchovies (rinsed and filleted), some olive oil and continue blending. When done, rub the paste into the lamb.
Put the lamb into a large cast iron skillet or a roasting pan fatty side up and cook until nicely browned and the lamb is rare. about 25 minutes or so.

Fiddlehead and Ramp saute:
Clean a pint of fiddleheads. Trim off tougher ends. Blanch for about a minute or two then plunge into ice water. Drain and reserve. Clean some (to taste) ramps. Finely dice the white part. Cut the leaves cross ways into very fine ribbons. A handful of chives finely chopped.
In olive oil and a over low heat, cook the ramp whites until softened. Add a tiny bit of sea salt and black pepper. Turn up heat to medium, add fiddleheads and saute until just tender. Toss in shredded ramp greens. Remove from heat and add chives. Serve immediately.

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