I love being lazy. It’s a true art form. I have been known (before children) to lie in a living room fort for eight hours at a time, breezing through movies and whole seasons of TV shows and only rolling toward the door to let the takeout guy in. I am happy to live in a rotating selection of yoga pants and not do the actual yoga. I relish the kind of vacations that consist of sitting in beach chairs with a stack of books and an even taller stack of drinks and never feel guilty for ignoring the activities booth because I am a big fan of Doing Nothing. It’s good for you. It clears your mind and rests your body. I’m even great at being lazy at work. Actors get a fair amount of downtime on set waiting for the next thing to happen, and some of them take advantage of that time and do weird things like work out in their trailers (ruining a perfectly good makeup job, why I do not know), but I am of the variety where I take advantage of the silence and read bad magazines and drink tea and nap, nap, nap. It’s no surprise that my trailer at work is one of my favourite places to be. Couple that with free craft service a few steps away and hi, I have the best job ever.
BUT. I am also a show-off. Every once in awhile I like to crack my knuckles and try to find something fancy to do, just because. (I am also a big fan of Just Because, and I do not wait for special occasions to have over-the-top food and great champagne. Imagine if I got hit by a bus and that gorgeous bottle of Krug went to someone in my will!) So although I am happy to share the easy recipes that are a part of our lives most of the time, I’m going to share this one that has a few more steps, but it’s WORTH IT and fun, especially when you’re buzzed, so open that champagne and let’s go.
*Quick side note, even though she probably won’t read this because she’s knee-deep in a Sudoku game while hand-making jewelry and tending to her garden that is bigger than our house. This recipe is a little dedication to my mother-in-law, Debbie, who is hilarious and kind and the walking equivalent to a winning lottery ticket as far as mother-in-laws go. She also takes our little man off our hands when we have to go away for quick business trips or just need a date night. He loves her, and so do I. And man, does Debbie love lamb. I watched her eat this lamb after a tooth extraction. She’s hardcore.
And I shouldn’t have to tell you this, but this recipe is so damn good, it will likely get you hired, laid, or at the very least settled deeply into a happy opu food coma. You’re welcome.
Herb-Crusted Rack of Lamb and Butternut Squash Orzo Risotto with Balsamic Reduction OMG
1 3 lb rack of lamb, frenched (this means the butcher has cleaned the bones for you so it looks all nice. Most racks of lamb are already sold frenched)
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp dijon mustard
1/2 cup fine breadcrumbs
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
1 tbsp rosemary leaves, chopped
1 tbsp thyme leaves, chopped plus one whole sprig
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1/4 cup red wine
1/2 cup beef broth or stock
1 tbsp unsalted butter
1 cup orzo
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
4 cups chicken broth or stock
1 onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup white wine (or champagne!)
1 cup of peeled and cubed butternut squash (sometimes they sell this already cubed in the freezer section at the grocery store. It eliminates a step! Defrost a cup in a bowl with a little bit of water in the microwave for 2 minutes)
pinch of nutmeg
a few fresh sage leaves, chopped
1/2 cup parmesan cheese, grated, plus more for sprinkling
salt and pepper
1 cup balsamic vinegar
1 tbsp brown sugar
salt and pepper
Season the lamb with lots of salt and pepper. Heat the olive oil in a deep frying pan over high heat until it smokes. Add the lamb and brown on both sides, about 4 minutes a side. Set the lamb aside to cool. DO NOT WASH OUT THE PAN with all that yummy fat. You’ll make your lamb jus at the end in the same pan.
Preheat the oven to 450F.
Make the herb crust. Combine the bread crumbs, chopped garlic, grated parmesan, rosemary, and thyme in a bowl. Spread the dijon mustard all over the lamb, set it in a roasting pan, and pack on the bread crumb crust in an even layer. The lamb will take 25 minutes for medium rare, as well as 10 minutes of resting once it comes out of the oven.
Once the lamb has been roasting for 10 minutes, start the risotto. Boil the butternut squash in some water until tender, about ten minutes. Transfer the squash and 1/4 cup of the cooking liquid into a blender or food processor with a pinch of nutmeg, the sage, and some salt and pepper. Blend until smooth.
Warm the chicken stock in a small pan over medium heat. You’ll be adding that to the risotto as it cooks, and warming it will prevent the risotto from coming down in cooking temperature as you go.
Heat a deep sauté pan over medium-high heat with the olive oil. Sautee the onion and garlic with some salt and pepper until soft, about 4 minutes. Add the orzo and toast it in the pan for a few minutes until it starts to get a little golden. Add the wine, stirring vigorously until it’s absorbed. Risotto is a labor of love, meaning there’s a lot of stirring and ladling liquid, over and over again, so add a ladle full of chicken broth, stirring for a few minutes until it’s absorbed, and then add another ladle full. Keep at it until all of the broth is gone, about 20 minutes.
While you’re keeping an eye on your risotto and doing all that stirring, heat a small pot over medium heat with the balsamic vinegar and brown sugar. Let it come to a bubble and then lower the heat to medium-low so it’s just at a simmer. Let it reduce until it coats the back of a spoon, about 15 minutes. At the end, turn the heat to low and season with salt and pepper.
Start the jus. Heat the pan you browned the lamb in over medium-high. Add the wine, scraping up all the delicious bits in the pan. Then add the beef broth or stock, salt and pepper. Let it reduce until it’s thickened a bit, about ten minutes. Whisk in the butter at the end.
Once all of the broth has been absorbed into the risotto, stir in the butternut squash puree. Warm for a few minutes, then turn off the heat and add the sage leaves and parmesan. Taste for seasoning.
After resting the lamb for 10 minutes, slice into individual chops. Arrange on a bed of sautéed greens and drizzle with the jus. Serve extra jus alongside.
Using a spoon, drizzle the risotto with a little of the balsamic reduction. The rest you can eat with some cheese and the rest of that champagne. Boss.