Roast Crown of Lamb with Chestnut Stuffing
Chestnut Stuffing was a favorite at Theodore Roosevelt’s holiday feasts at his Sagamore Hill family home. Enjoy this updated version.
Order the crown of lamb from the butcher at least a week beforehand. Ask him to trim, french,* and tie the racks for you, reserving the trimmings. If there are no trimmings available, substitute 4 ounces of ground lamb.
• 8 cups day-old cubed corn bread**
• 4 tablespoons butter
• 1 large onion, chopped (1 cup)
• 2 stalks celery, chopped (1 cup)
• 1 large bulb fennel, cored and chopped
• 1 (7-1/2 ounce) jar vacuum-packed cooked chestnuts, chopped (1-1/2 cups)
• 3 tablespoons snipped fresh sage
• 3 tablespoons fresh thyme
• 1 egg, lightly beaten
• 3/4 to 1 cup chicken broth
• 2 racks of lamb (about 8 ribs each), trimmed and frenched,* trimmings reserved, tied into a crown*** (about 1-1/2 pounds)
• 1 tablespoon olive oil
• 1 tablespoon chopped garlic
• 1 tablespoon snipped fresh thyme
• 2 teaspoons snipped fresh sage
• 1 teaspoon each salt and freshly ground black pepper
• 2 cups Shiraz, inexpensive but good quality
• 1 tablespoon Dijon-style mustard
• 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
• Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 400°F. To make stuffing: Place corn bread in large bowl; set aside. In skillet melt butter. Add onion, celery, fennel, and chestnut meat to skillet, toss well to mix. Cook until vegetables are just tender, about 10 minutes. Add vegetable mixture to corn bread; toss well. Stir in 3 tablespoons each of sage and thyme. Add egg; mix well. Add enough chicken broth to moisten. Transfer to 2-quart baking dish. Cover with foil. Set aside.
Place roasting pan in oven while preparing roast. Place roast on cutting board. Rub roast inside and outside with olive oil. In small bowl combine garlic, 1 tablespoon thyme, 2 teaspoons sage, and 1 teaspoon each salt and pepper. Press mixture into both sides of crown. Cover bones with aluminum foil.
Place roast in heated roasting pan. Scatter trimmings on bottom of pan.**** Place stuffing in oven with lamb. Roast lamb 30 minutes for medium rare (135°F internal temperature). Remove roast from oven; transfer to serving platter, let rest. Bake stuffing 20 minutes. Uncover stuffing; bake 5 to 10 minutes more (total cooking time 25 to 30 minutes) or until an instant-read thermometer inserted near center registers 165°F.
Set roasting pan over two burners set on medium heat. Deglaze pan with 2 cups Shiraz, scraping up brown bits from pan. Simmer until reduced by half, about 10 minutes. Strain sauce into bowl. Whisk in mustard and vinegar. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Spoon Chestnut Stuffing into center of crown, mounding on top. (Serve remainder on side.) Serve roast with wine sauce. Makes 6 to 8 servings.
*Tip: To “french” a rack of lamb, make a cut on the fat side, perpendicular to ribs, about 2 inches down from rib ends. Cut through fat down to rib bones. Stand rack on end and push small knife through
flesh between each rib, level with first cut. Turn rack fat side down. Score thin membrane covering rib bones. Push against rib bones from fat side of rack until they pop through membrane. Cut away strip of meat from rib ends. Trim excess fat from fat side. Reserve meat and fat trimmings for sauce.
**Tip: Use a favorite cornbread recipe, making enough to equal 8 cups or prepare two 8-ounce packages of corn muffin mix in two greased 8x8x2-inch baking pans according to package directions. (Each package will yield 6 cups cornbread.) Let stand, loosely covered, at room temperature overnight, or spread in shallow baking pan and bake in 300°F oven 10 to 15 minutes, stirring once or twice. Bread will dry and crisp more as it cools.
***Tip: To prepare a crown roast using two 8-rib racks of lamb, make a shallow cut in flesh between each rib bone so that rib racks will curve easily into proper shape. Bend each rack into semicircle (meat side out and fat side in) and tie together at base, center, and top with 100% cotton kitchen string. The rib ends should be pushed outward to create the look of a crown.
****Tip: If you are only able to find lamb racks that have already been frenched (and have no trimmings), cook 4 ounces ground lamb in 1 tablespoon hot oil in hot roasting pan for sauce. Place roast in pan with ground lamb.
Butter-Braised Radishes with Kale and Lemon
Prep the radishes and kale prior to preparing the roast; cover and place in refrigerator. While lamb roasts, braise the radishes and sauté the kale.
• 4 bunches large red radishes
• 1 large lemon
• 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
• 1 cup chicken broth
• 1 teaspoon sugar
• Salt and freshly ground pepper
• 1 tablespoon olive oil
• 2 bunches sturdy kale, tough stems removed and torn into large pieces
Trim roots and leaves from radishes. Soak radishes in cold water 15 minutes to loosen any dirt. Drain and scrub. Halve any large radishes. Finely shred peel from lemon; set peel aside. Juice lemon; set juice aside. Melt butter in large skillet. Add radishes in single layer. Add broth; bring to simmer over medium heat. Sprinkle with lemon peel and sugar.
Reduce heat to low simmer. Cook, covered, 25 to 30 minutes or until radishes are easily pierced with skewer. Uncover; increase heat to medium. Shake pan to coat radishes; simmer until liquid reduces to a glaze and coats radishes, 5 to 10 minutes more. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Transfer radishes to serving dish.
In same skillet, heat olive oil. Add kale, half at a time; season with salt and pepper. Cook and toss kale just until wilted, about 2 minutes. Transfer kale to serving dish; toss with radishes. Sprinkle with fresh lemon juice; toss again. Serve immediately. Makes 8 servings.