This is a love story. A tale as old as time really. It’s a story about my husband and a rack of lamb. And the sweet, sweet family we’ve grown. Years ago in our carefree childless days we would go to elaborate lengths to celebrate our Anniversary and Valentine’s Day. Trips to Palm Springs, Big Sur etc. One of those years we stayed at an old mansion which has been converted into a hotel called the Stonepine Estate. You really feel as if you’re in your own Downton Abbey there. Each guest room is a different theme, there’s a secret bar behind a bookcase in the lobby, cocktails are served fireside followed by dinner in the grand dining room, followed by fireside bourbon on the veranda. The estate has acres of grounds with gardens and trails for horseback riding, hiking or long romantic glances. So we were enjoying a stay here one Valentine’s Day, feeling very regal, young and in love. Dan ordered the rack of lamb for dinner and was in complete amazement over it. Sadly though he had also partaken in several hors d’oeuvres during cocktail hour and was unable to finish the very last lamb chop. To this day it haunts him. “Remember leaving that lamb on my plate at Stonepine? How I wish I could have finished it” he’ll say shaking his head! Four kids later we usually spend Valentine’s Day home with our family now. Everybody gets a big chocolate and I cook something special. Well this year, what turned up in our February Five Marys farm box but a rack of lamb! PERFECT! I went to work searching the very best way to prepare it for our Valentine’s Day dinner. And of course it came from a Thomas Keller recipe. The cut was supposed to be frenched and boned. So using my new butchering knives and some helpful instructions I did just that!
After: I realized I still need ONE more knife…, a boning knife to get the rib bones really clean, but doing the rack of lamb this way gives an elegant presentation and removes much of the excess fat and tendons.
Score the fat side in a cross hatch pattern, season generously with salt and pepper and sear, fat side down for about two minutes in a hot cast iron pan with a little oil (I used some garlic infused canola oil from the garlic confit I keep in the fridge).
Move to a roasting pan and place meat side up in the rack. Ideally you would have two to hold each other up. Make the herb crust in a blender which is a combination of garlic cloves (from the confit), anchovies, and butter mixed with bread crumbs and fresh herbs. Combine some mustard and honey in a small bowl and brush it over the top of the lamb. Press the bread crumb mixture into the honey mustard on the meat.
Cook in the lower third of a 425 degree oven for 25 minutes until the temperature reaches 125 degrees and let rest for 20 minutes in a warm location. Carve into chops and serve.
Sometime while I was doing this we had a cute little Cupid messenger appear with a very special invite.
Looks like Bouchon Keaton was hosting a pop up dinner in the craft room! And fancy attire was going to be required! And no electronic devices allowed… Very formal, clearly.
Well alright then! I got into a beautiful red silk dress that Dan had brought me from a business trip in India. Frankie helped me accessorize it with Christmas plaid heels, a silk scarf given to me by a customer in China, my Giants baseball earrings, Links charm bracelet, and a flower for my hair with one of her pink barrettes. She was very proud of the outfit and took this picture of me. Doesn’t show all the great accessories and is a little blurry but you feel the love, right?
Dan dressed up in a red button down shirt with a black suit jacket and we were off to a very fancy date night!
Zach would be babysitting Alex and the girls would be our server and maître d’. The craft room had been completely transformed by them with balloons, streamers and candles.
(Shhhh, I snuck my phone in for some photos…)
“Be our guest! Be our guest!
Put our service to the test
Tie your napkin ’round your neck cherie,
And we’ll provide the rest”
We were clearly in for an amazing evening!
There was a fancy menu:
And a cheerful wait staff:
A delicious cheese course:
And then our rack of lamb was served atop broccoli, fresh from our garden and creme fraiche mashed potatoes. And it was good! Delicious in fact! Dan and his lamb were together at last! And this time, he ate the whole thing The homegrown broccoli was sweet and fresh. And the service remained impeccable (and giggly).
Dessert was served back in the house by the fire so we could all exchange our Valentines and be together. Scarlet made these conversation heart sugar cookies that were equally cute and yummy. And behind the cookies are homemade cards from the girls.
Zach with his chocolate and his one true love, Lulu the rescue terrier. Those two are like peas and carrots!
Baby Alex had a fun evening playing with her “bo bo” as she calls him. And she got a cookie and a bite of chocolate so was pretty excited.
Love abounds here tonight. I love my husband, my sweet children and living in this beautiful home. I am one lucky lady and I’m well aware!
I give the Bouchon Keaton Pop Up five stars. A culinary delight! The service was phenomenal (and cute). A feast for the senses. Can’t wait to return!
Thomas Keller’s Herb Crusted Racknof Lamb
• 2 frenched, 8-bone racks of lamb (2 to 2 1/4 pounds each)
• Kosher salt
• Freshly ground pepper
• Canola oil
• Garlic confit (instructions below)
• 1/4 cup Dijon mustard
• 3 tablespoons honey
• 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
• 3 to 5 anchovy fillets, rinsed, dried and minced
• 1 1/2 cups ground panko bread crumbs
• 3 tablespoons finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
• 1 tablespoon minced rosemary
• Gray salt or coarse sea salt
- Score the fat side of the lamb in a thin crosshatch pattern and season generously with salt and pepper.
- have a roasting rack and pan ready. Heat garlic infused canola oil in a cast iron skillet until hot. Place the lamb, fat-side down in the pan until it is nicely brown. Approximately 2minutes. Transfer to the roasting land and place fat-side down in the rack. (Repeat for second rack).
- Pour the mustard and honey together in a small bowl and set aside. Process the butter, garlic confit and anchovies in the blender or food processor until combined and smooth. Transfer to a medium bowl.
- Stir in the bread crumbs and herbs carefully so as not to over mix.
- Brush the mustard mixture over the entire too side of the rack and then press in the bread crumb mixture. (The lamb can be refrigerated on the rack in the roasting pan for up to 6 hours, but remove it from the refrigerator 30 minutes before roasting.)
- Position the oven rack in the bottom third of the oven. Preheat the oven to 425° F.
- Put the lamb in the oven, meat-side toward the back, and roast for 25 to 35 minutes, until the temperature in the center of the meat registers 128° F to 130° F. Let the racks rest on the rack in a warm place for 20 minutes for medium-rare.
- Carve each rack into four 2-bone chops, and arrange them on a platter. Sprinkle with gray salt or sea salt and serve.
Make this often and keep in a mason jar in your refrigerator.
1c Trimmed Garlic Cloves
1c Canola Oil
Place the garlic and oil in a small pot on the stove and simmer (never boil) over low heat for 40 minutes. Remove from heat, let cool completely and store.