My Itinerary:



Oven Roasted Lamb Rack with Spring Pea Risotto, Manchego and a Chorizo Vinaigrette
Courtesy of Chef Will Torres of The Restaurant at JUSTIN

Serves six

  • 2 racks of lamb, each one 7 to 8 ribs, and 1 ½ to 2 pounds
  • 1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh thyme
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • Spring Pea Risotto, for serving (recipe below)
  • Chorizo Vinaigrette, for serving (recipe below)

Preheat the oven to 400°.

Mix together the thyme, garlic, about ½ teaspoon salt and pepper to taste; rub the racks all over with the seasoning blend. Place inside a large, heavy-duty, re-sealable plastic bag and add the olive oil. Spread the oil around so that it coats the lamb racks all over. Squeeze out as much air as you can from the bag and seal. Place in a container so that if the bag leaks, the container catches the juices. Let stand at room temperature for about 25 minutes, until the oven reaches temperature.

Remove the racks from the bags and place bone-side-down on a large, rimmed baking sheet. Roast in the hot oven for 7 minutes, then lower the heat to 300° and roast for 7 to 15 minutes longer (depending on the size of the racks), until a meat thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the meat reaches 120° for rare, or 130°F for medium-rare. Remove from oven, cover with foil and let rest for 5 to 10 minutes (the meat will increase in temperature by about 5 degrees). Carve into double chops, and serve with the risotto and the chorizo vinaigrette.

Spring Pea Risotto:

  • 1 cup water
  • 4 cups vegetable broth
  • ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • ½ cup finely chopped red onion or shallot
  • 1 cup Arborio rice
  • 1/3 cup dry white wine
  • ½ cup crème fraîche
  • 1 ½ cups shelled fresh peas (if unavailable, substitute thawed frozen petits pois)
  • ¼ cup shaved or grated Manchego cheese
  • Fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

In a medium saucepan, bring the water and broth to a simmer. Reduce heat to low and keep warm.

Place a large saucepan over medium heat and add the olive oil; add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened. Add the rice and stir gently until lightly toasted, 3 to 4 minutes; each grain of rice should appear a touch translucent on the edge. Add the wine; stir until fully absorbed.

Increase the heat to medium-high, and stir in 1 cup of the water-broth mixture. Cook uncovered, stirring frequently, until the liquid is absorbed. Continue stirring and adding more water-broth mixture, 1 cup at a time, allowing each cup to be absorbed before adding another. Cook for approximately 25 to 30 minutes total, or until the rice is tender and creamy.

Stir in the peas, Manchego and crème fraîche; season with salt and pepper to taste.

Chorizo Vinaigrette:

  • 2 links cured Spanish chorizo, removed from the casing and cut into small dice
  • ¼ cup finely chopped red onion
  • 4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 1 ½ cup sherry vinegar
  • ¼ cup finely diced fennel
  • Extra-virgin olive oil, as needed

Place the chorizo in a small skillet with half a cup of water; over medium-low heat, render out the fat. Remove the meat from the pan with a slotted spoon; reserve the chorizo, leaving fat in the pan. Add the red onion and garlic to the skillet and sauté in the flavorful chorizo oil until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the sherry vinegar to the pan and deglaze with a wooden spoon; adjust the heat so the liquid simmers, and cook until reduced by about half.

Place the fennel in a very small saucepan and add just enough olive oil to cover. Bring to a slow simmer and cook until the fennel is softened, 10 to 15 minutes, drain the fennel. In a bowl, combine the chorizo, onion-garlic mixture with all of the fat, and the drained fennel. Taste for seasoning and adjust if needed (the chorizo is quite salty).

Recommended Wine Pairing; 2011 JUSTIN Cabernet Sauvignon