mostarda di frutta and rack of lamb
Mostarda di Frutta is an Italian condiment made of candied fruit in a mustard flavored syrup. It is served with boiled, roasted, or grill meats, and is a fabulous accompaniment to cheeses.
The rack of lamb is “Frenched” which means the meat, fat, and membranes that connect the individual rib bones is scraped or trimmed away from the end of bone down to about two inches above the rib-eye area. This is generally done on lamb chops, veal rib chops or a crown pork roast. Frenched racks and chops can be purchased already done or you can “French” them on your own at home. Click this link for a great video demonstration from Fine Cooking on how to French a rack of lamb. If you do decide to French the lamb yourself, discard the fat and membrane, but be sure to save all meat scraps and use as stew meat or grind to make into lamb burgers.
Wild rice is not a true rice or a grain, but a grass native to the Great Lakes region of North America. It is gluten-free and is a good source of potassium, phosphorus, thiamine, and riboflavin. Wild rice needs much more water and cooking time than white or brown rice; the water ratio is about 4 to 1. It takes about an hour to cook and not all the water is absorbed, the excess is drained away. Because of the long cooking time, I generally make a double batch and use half of it for another meal. Another common way to serve wild rice to mix it with brown rice; this half and half combination makes is tasty and budget friendly since wild rice is more expensive than other types of rice.
There is a garlic-herb paste rubbed on the lamb and topping the tomatoes. A little bit of kosher salt is used in the mix, its purpose is to help break down the garlic, it makes a big difference in the texture of this paste and is always a great technique to use the next time you make aioli too.
Rack of Lamb with Wild Rice and Mostarda di Frutta
Mostarda di Frutta
1 cup dry white wine
1/4 cup dry mustard
3 tablespoons white wine vinegar
2 tablespoons packed brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons peeled and minced fresh ginger
1 cup mix of dried figs, apricots and cherries
2 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
1 1/2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary
1 teaspoon plus 1 tablespoon olive oil, divided
1 (1 1/2 pound) Frenched rack of lamb (about 8 chops)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
8 small to medium-size tomatoes, halved
3 cups freshly cooked wild rice mixed with 3 cups freshly cooked brown rice (follow package directions to prepare), seasoned to taste with salt and pepper (only 3 cups of the mixture is used for this recipe, save the remaining 3 cups for another meal)
Mostarda di Frutta: Whisk together the wine and dry mustard in a 1-cup liquid measuring cup. In a small saucepan bring the vinegar, sugar and ginger to a boil. Stir until the sugar is dissolved. Reduce the heat to a simmer for about 5 minutes to reduce.
Meanwhile, cut the figs and apricots to about the size of the cherries. When cutting dried fruit, it is often difficult with a knife because the fruit sticks to the blade. A more efficient way to cut dried fruit is to use scissors, if the fruit still sticks, just spray the scissor blades with a little Pam. Stir the mustard-wine mixture and the fruit into the vinegar, bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes.
Lamb: Place oven rack in the middle position and preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Pile the minced garlic, salt, thyme leaves, rosemary on a cutting board, use a chef’s knife to mince into a paste and transfer to a small bowl. Add the teaspoon of the olive oil and mix well, set aside.
Pat lamb dry with paper towels and season with salt and pepper.
Heat a large ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat. Add the remaining tablespoon olive oil and brown lamb on all sides, about 6 minutes total. Remove lamb to a cutting board.
Rub half of garlic mixture on fat side of lamb rack. Rub the other half on the cut side of the tomatoes. Place the tomatoes in the skillet, cut side up, and lay the rack of lamb on top of them. Place the skillet in the oven on the center rack and roast until an instant-read thermometer inserted into center of meat (do not touch bone) registers 130 degrees for medium-rare, 20 to 25 minutes.
Let stand, loosely covered with foil, 5 to 10 minutes.
Slice the rack into individual chops and serve 2 chops per person with a side of rice, 4 roasted tomato halves and a large spoonful of the mostarda.