Last night we had quite a feast: roasted rack of lamb with sweet potato-miso mash and stir-fried snap peas.
The lamb recipe I use, which always knocks everybody's socks off, is based on the very traditional method where you put a thin layer of dijon mustard on the outside of the rack and then coat it with breadcrumbs. The twist is this: Instead of/in addition to passing it with a mint sauce, you mince up a bunch of mint and mix it right in with the breadcrumbs before coating the lamb.
I felt like I should have put salt and pepper on the lamb earlier (it didn't seem like the salt had penetrated all the way through, even though I applied it probably a good half-hour before I started cooking it), and I always feel like it needs to rest more like 10 minutes than the 5 minutes the recipe mandates. Also, I tend to use a much higher proportion of mint than the recipe calls for. Oh, and that's WAY too much breadcrumbs even for 3 lamb racks -- I used 1/2 cup for a single rack, and I still threw out at least half of it.
The sweet potato-miso mash is an old standby recipe for me that I like because it is an interesting twist, but actually really simple to make. Also, miso paste seems to last just about forever in the fridge, so I can bust this out on a whim whenever I want to do something a little different with sweet potatoes or yams. I am certain I got the recipe somewhere online a few years ago, but I can't for the life of me find it... So, with apologies to the original creator of the recipe, here is how I remember it:
Sweet potato-miso mash
- 2 pounds sweet potatoes or yams, peeled and chopped into large-ish cubes
- 2 Tbsp white miso paste (most any type of miso paste will do)
- Pepper to taste
Bring pot of boiling unsalted water to a boil. Normally, for something like this, I would demand that you use aggressively salted water under threat of a vicious beating with a live trout, in order to ensure that the world's first and best flavor enhancer penetrates deeply into the entire dish. However, in this case, the salty miso paste is going to provide pretty much all the salt we need. So leave the salt out.
Add potatoes or yams to the water and cook until tender enough to mash, about 15 minutes. Drain and transfer to bowl large enough for mashing. If not ready to serve, cover with foil.
When almost ready to serve, add the miso paste and pepper to taste. Again, do not add salt, as the miso will add plenty of saltiness! Mash sweet potato mixture thoroughly, stirring with spoon if miso paste does not fully combine. Serve immediately.
Notes: The reason for the foil over the bowl and waiting for the last minute to mash it is because, assuming your miso came out of the fridge, I find that it cools the potatoes almost immediately to a good serving temperature -- and that if you add the miso earlier and then don't serve it for ten minutes, say, then it is not hot anymore by the time it gets to the table. So I keep the potatoes as hot as possible until I am ready to add the miso, then serve right away.
This recipe makes about 4-5 side-dish servings. You can easily scale it however large or small you like by just maintaining the ratio of 1 lb potatoes to 1 Tbsp miso paste.
The stir-fried snap peas is still something I am sort of working on. I want to get snap peas that have a fair bit of browning on them yet still have a nice al dente crisp to them, but I also don't want them to seem greasy. The problem is, because the peas have a smooth non-porous surface, there is nowhere for oil or butter to hide -- so even a small, quite sensible amount of oil gives them a tasty-but-unhealthy-looking sheen, and interferes with the mouthfeel. Yet if I use too little oil, then they don't brown up the way I want them too. If anybody has any suggestions, I'd love to hear them!
I used garlic scapes this time, because as I mentioned in a previous post, we have some right now from our CSA. They were tasty, but chopped garlic would probably work too (though I might add it a little later in the cooking so as not to burn it). The snap peas were also from the CSA.
Stir-fried snap peas with garlic scapes
- a "handful" of snap peas (I guess maybe 1/3 lb is what I used? I didn't measure or weigh it, I just tossed in the bag we got from the CSA)
- 2 garlic scapes, sliced
- 1-2 tsp of peanut oil
- salt and pepper to taste
To go with the meal, we had Dr. Konstantin Frank Dry Reisling. Yeah, I know, a red wine
Anyway, I don't generally like Reislings, but the Dr. Frank Reislings (both the dry and the semi-dry) are really fantastic. This bottle was even better than I remember it, which could mean that a) the 2007 vintage is a good one, or, as is more likely b) it's been a long time since I've had a good bottle of wine.
The price is right too: It was about $12 at Century Pittsford. They usually have it available chilled, but it was sold out (go figure) so we had to toss it in the freezer while I cooked.