Food for Thought
What Seems Important with Spring Coming Soon
It seems residents in Nevada are increasingly concerned about the food they eat and how it is produced and processed. One of the fastest growing segments of the food industry is organic food. There is disagreement as to whether certified organic food is any healthier than conventionally produced food or those organic practices, in general, result in healthier food products. Organic food gives consumers the opportunity to purchase food on the basis of their own values and beliefs. Organic food products usually sell for a premium price because they come with assurances that they have been produced in a certain manner.
According to our USDA, “Organic food is produced by farmers who emphasize the use of renewable resources and the conservation of soil and water to enhance environmental quality for future generations. Organic meats, poultry, eggs, and dairy products come from animals that are given no antibiotics or growth hormones. Organic food is produced without using most conventional pesticides; petroleum-based fertilizers or sewage sludge-based fertilizers; bio-engineering; or ionizing radiation. Before a product can be labeled organic, a government-approved certifier inspects the farm where the food is grown to make sure the farmer is following all the rules necessary to meet USDA organic standards. Companies that handle or process organic food before it gets to your local supermarket or restaurant must be certified, too. Now you know more than most about what’s available in our stores.
With all the harmonious pairings of foodstuffs, artichokes and lamb certainly rank in the upper echelon. Here, with lentils for body and olives, capers, and red onion for zest, we have the makings of an involved heavenly dish. While the earthiness of this recipe may satisfy on a very basic level, the flavors are actually quite delicate. It takes a bit of time but, after all it’s almost spring and we can spend an extra few minutes for a heavenly dish.
Lamb Loin with Artichokes & Red Wine Sauce
For the meat stock reduction
2 cups chopped yellow onions
1 cup chopped carrots
1 cup chopped celery
2 tablespoons grapeseed or canola oil
1 cup dry red wine
2 quarts 8 cups beef stock
4 sprigs fresh thyme
For the artichokes
2 raw artichoke bottoms, with stems attached
2 cups extra-virgin olive oil
3 sprigs fresh thyme
2 cloves garlic, smashed
2 whole bay leaves
1 lemon, juiced
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
For the lamb and sauce
2 pounds lamb loin, with extra fat slab attached
2 tablespoons puréed Kalamata olives
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons grapeseed oil
1 cup dry red wine
1 cup julienned red onion
1/2 cup julienned red bell pepper
1/2 cup sliced Kalamata olives
1/2 cup meat stock reduction
2 tablespoons capers, rinsed and chopped
1/2 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 1/2 tablespoons chopped
For the garnish
1 cup freshly cooked French green lentils, hot
Freshly ground black pepper
4 teaspoons micro parsley or chervil leaves or chopped fresh parsley or chervil
4 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
Make the meat stock reduction
Sauté the onions, carrots, and celery in the grapeseed oil in a medium saucepan over high heat for 10 minutes, or until golden brown and caramelized. Deglaze the pan with the wine and cook until most of the wine has been absorbed. Add the stock and simmer over low heat for 1 hour.
Strain and return the liquid to the saucepan. Add the thyme and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove the thyme and simmer for about 30 minutes, or until reduced to 1 1/2 cups. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve. Store in the refrigerator up to 4 days or freeze up to 2 months.
Make the artichokes
Slice the artichokes into 1/3-inch-thick wedges. Place the artichokes in a small saucepan with the olive oil, thyme, garlic, bay leaves, and lemon juice; cook over low heat for 15 minutes, or until the artichokes are cooked al dente. Remove the artichokes from the pan to prevent overcooking. The artichokes can be prepared several hours ahead of time. Reheat them in the oil just prior to serving. Drain the artichokes and season to taste with salt and pepper at the last minute.
Make the lamb and sauce
Preheat the oven to 400°F. Rub the lamb loin with the olive purée and roll up in the attached fat slab, covering the whole loin. Secure with butcher’s twine. Season the outside of the loin with salt and pepper. Heat the grapeseed oil in a roasting pan over high heat. Add the loin and sear on all sides until golden brown and crispy. Roast in the oven for 30 minutes, or until cooked to medium-rare. Transfer the lamb to a cutting board and let rest. Drain off any excess fat from the pan.
Deglaze the pan on the stove top with the wine, then add the onion and cook for 3 to 4 minutes, or until the onion is tender. Add the bell pepper, sliced olives, stock reduction, capers, vinegar and chives; cook for 3 minutes longer to bring the flavors together. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Remove the cooking twine from the lamb and cut into 1 1/2-inch-thick medallions. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Assemble the dish
Spoon some of the lentils and artichokes in the center of each plate. Place a slice of the lamb atop the lentils and spoon the sauce around the plate. Top with pepper and sprinkle with the micro parsley. Drizzle the olive oil around the plate.
Yield: 4 servings
Note: Recommend Spanish Rioja wine