Try a Little Tenderness

However you slice it, lamb is a prime choice for a spring repast. 

However you slice it, lamb is a prime choice for a spring repast. Legs, shoulders and shanks are all fair game.  And few would argue that a fresh rack is a juicy alternative. Of course, there are no seasonal rights or wrongs, but since spring is the season of rebirth, lamb seems an appropriate choice when red meat is preferred. Here are four lamb recipes from our Chef J Frank, paired up with veggies and a dessert to die for.

Lamb Ragù Puttanesca

2 tablespoons olive oil

4 lamb shanks

salt to taste

pepper to taste

2 cups diced onion

2 tablespoons chopped garlic

1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes

1 cup dry white wine

1 tablespoon anchovy paste

4 tablespoons whole capers in brine, drained

3/4 cup black olives, quartered

2 cups beef stock or canned beef broth

2 cups canned crushed tomatoes

1 pound rigatoni pasta, cooked

2 tablespoons chopped parsley, for garnish

1/4 cup feta cheese, for garnish 

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Heat oil in ovenproof pot over high heat. Season lamb shanks with salt and pepper. Brown shanks on all sides, then remove from pot and set aside.

Drain off all but 2 tablespoons of fat from pot and add onion, garlic and red pepper flakes. Sauté on medium heat until vegetables are tender, about 6 minutes. Add wine, anchovy paste, capers and olives and simmer until liquid has almost evaporated. Add stock and tomatoes, stirring to combine all ingredients. Add shanks back to pot. Bring to boil on stovetop before covering tightly and placing in oven.

Turn lamb shanks after 1 hour, cover and place back in oven for 1 more hour, or until meat is tender enough to fall off the bone. Remove shanks from braising liquid and set aside to cool.

When shanks are cool enough to handle, shred meat, discarding excess fat and bone. Add meat back to braising liquid, stirring to combine. Warm gently over low heat and serve with rigatoni pasta. Garnish with chopped parsley

and feta cheese.

Rack of Lamb

1  8-rib rack of lamb

1 tablespoon olive oil           

1 tablespoon fresh chopped rosemary         

1 tablespoon fresh chopped thyme              

kosher salt to taste

1/3 cup Dijon mustard                          

1/3 cup brown sugar                            

Panko bread crumbs  

French the rack to expose the rib bones by removing the

meat, fat and membranes that connect the individual rib bones. If you have never done this, find a friendly and neighborly shepherd to show you how or ask your butcher

to do it for you.

Drizzle olive oil on the eye of the rack and coat liberally with the rosemary and thyme.  Let marinate overnight, or for at least a couple of hours.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Heat a cast iron skillet

with a bit of olive oil.  Season the rack with sea salt and fresh ground pepper, and brown the rack in the hot skillet.

Mix the Dijon mustard and brown sugar and then spread

the mixture over the rib rack.  Then coat the rack with

Panko bread crumbs.  

Place the rib rack back into the preheated oven for

approximately 20 minutes.  

Slice the rack between the ribs for tasty lollipops

with long sexy bones. Eat with your hands.

Lamb Spiedie

3 pound boneless leg of lamb, trimmed and butterflied


3/4 cup red wine vinegar

1/2 cup olive oil

5 cloves garlic, crushed

1 teaspoon parsley

1 teaspoon oregano

1/2 teaspoon mint

dash of red pepper flakes, to taste

3 sprigs fresh rosemary

salt and pepper to taste  

Mix all marinade ingredients together and immerse the butterflied leg of lamb. Marinate overnight.  The lamb can be roasted at 400 degrees, but is best done on a medium-hot charcoal grill. Cook to desired doneness. Slice and serve on crusty Italian bread and garnish with arugula.

Moroccan Lamb & Couscous Salad

2 lamb shoulders, cubed


1/3 cup olive oil

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon ground coriander

1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon turmeric

1/8 teaspoon cayenne

1 teaspoon salt

2 cups onions, chopped

4 cloves garlic, chopped

1 tablespoon ginger, minced

3 medium carrots, peeled and chopped

1  28-ounce can crushed tomatoes

2 cups chicken stock

5 tablespoons olive oil

Mix all ingredients for the marinade. Add the cubed lamb shoulder and refrigerate overnight.

In 3 tablespoons of the olive oil brown the lamb and remaining marinade well, then remove from pan and set aside. Add another 2 tablespoons of olive oil to the pan and sauté the onion for 2 minutes over medium heat. Add the garlic and ginger and sauté an additional 2 minutes. Add carrots and tomatoes, stir well and simmer for 5 minutes. Add the lamb plus 2 cups of chicken stock and bring to a boil. Remove from heat, cover and bake in a preheated 325-degree oven for 1 1/2 hours.  

Couscous Salad:

2 cups quick cooking couscous

2 1/2 cups water

1/4 cup raisins

1/4 cup dried apricots, chopped

6 tablespoons olive oil

4 tablespoons lemon juice

2 teaspoons cumin

2 teaspoons ground coriander

1 teaspoon ground ginger

2 teaspoons salt

1/4 cup red pepper, diced

1/4 cup green onion, sliced

2 cups chick peas, rinsed

2 tablespoons fresh chopped mint, parsley and cilantro

2 tablespoons slivered almonds

Soak the raisins and apricots in 1/2 cup boiling water for 1 hour. Drain and add to the couscous. Pour 2 cups boiling water over the mixture. Cool and fluff with a fork. Make a dressing with the oil, lemon juice and spices and mix well. In a large bowl combine the couscous with the red pepper, green onions and chickpeas. Add the dressing and mix well. Toss in the mint, parsley and cilantro. Garnish with the almonds.

Cauliflower with Ginger Cream

2 heads cauliflower cut into florets

1 1/2 teaspoons minced fresh ginger

1 hot green chili, chopped fine

6 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro

2 cups heavy cream

1 cup milk

2 teaspoons salt

Combine all ingredients in a wide pan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, cover and lower heat. Simmer for 10 minutes, stirring now and then. Increase heat for 2 minutes. Florets will break apart and mixture will thicken at this point. Garnish with fresh cilantro and serve over steamed asparagus.

Steamed Asparagus

2 bunches fresh asparagus

Wash and prepare asparagus. Steam to desired doneness.

Banoffee Pie

2 14-ounce cans sweetened condensed milk

10 ounces crushed graham crackers

2/3 cup salted butter, melted

5-6 bananas, sliced

5 tablespoons Mascarpone cheese

2 1/4 cups whipping cream, whipped

cocoa powder for dusting

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. To create the filling, caramelize the sweetened condensed milk by pouring into a 9×12 2-inch glass dish and covering with foil. Then place dish inside a larger poaching pan and add water to poaching pan until it is half way up the sides. Bake for 1 1/2 hours, adding water to poaching pan if necessary. Stir once during baking. Caramel should be a deep golden color when ready.

For the base, mix the crushed graham crackers and melted butter and press into a flan pan with a removable bottom, or a spring-form pan. Refrigerate. In a mixing bowl, stir the mascarpone cheese into the whipped cream.

Arrange the sliced bananas on the graham cracker base. Next, spread the caramel over the bananas and top with the whipped cream mixture. Refrigerate 3-4 hours or overnight. Sift cocoa over the top before serving.

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