August’s birthday cupcakes yesterday were a great finale to a wonderful day, but they were really more of an encore after a masterful dinner. Zach was determined to make her favorite food, lamb, but in a special way fit for a celebration.
1 rack of lamb with 4 bones
1/4 cup of bread crumbs
1/4 cup of roasted, salted, and finely chopped pistachios (by “finely” we mean not coarse, but definitely not powder, either)
3 tbs. of extra virgin olive oil
2 tsp. of herbs de Provence
1 tbs. of truffled honey dijon mustard
1 tsp. of canola oil
Salt and pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Trim away any excess fat from the rack, especially from areas closer to the bone. Season all sides of the rack with salt and pepper, and sprinkle the herbs de Provence over the top. Pat the seasoning so that it sticks to the meat.
Heat the canola oil in a large saute pan over medium-high heat. Sear the top and bottom of the rack for 2 minutes on each side. The wide side needs 1 minute of searing; hold it up with tongs.
Transfer the rack to a plate. Mix together the bread crumbs, pistachios, and olive oil. Smear the top side of the rack with mustard, then liberally apply and pat the bread crumb mix over the mustard. Move to a sheet pan with a rack, and roast for 20 minutes (rare) to 24 minutes (medium). NEVER serve lamb well done. Let rest for 10 minutes before serving.
Along with some extremely spicy jerky, the last time we drove through Baker and visited the Alien Fresh Jerky shop, we also picked up habanero pistachios. The jerky we tried first tonight, and August was happy to get that over with so that she could enjoy these delicious pistachios.
The process to roast pistachios requires that the unopened nuts be seasoned first, then roasted, which is what pops open the shells part-way. Therefore, the great majority of the spicy seasoning was on the inedible shells. Some people like to suck on the shells of roasted pistachios to get the most flavor, but these were very intensely hot and we weren’t too inspired to keep the shells in our mouths for very long. Cracked open, though, the fresh and meaty nuts inside had a hint of spice, just enough to make a classical ingredient a little zingy. If you enjoy the flavor behind heat without too much of a burning sensation, this is a nice little mouth pleaser.
When we stopped for gas and snacks at the Patterson Unical 76 on our drive to Las Vegas for Vegas Uncork’d, we were surprised and happy to find a selection of local treats from Isaac Farms of Atwater. We picked a few of the most different and unique items, and were too busy and distracted to get to the pistachios until tonight.
In Iran, pistachios are called “smiling nuts.” We were left smiling from the spicy (as in spiced) flavor of these quality nuts. Saffron itself is a very, very mild spice, but the garlic added a tangy actual spiciness, more intense on the shell than the nut itself. August usually likes to suck on shells before eating the nut, but these she just cracked open and enjoyed the morsel inside because the heat of the copious garlic was just a little much for her; you may feel differently, like Zach did. Pistachios contain 3 grams of fiber per serving, more than many whole fruits, so this is one of the better natural and savory items to reach for when a midday craving hits you. Sadly, Isaac Farms does not have an online store, so it would seem that the only way to get these is to be in the area. We’ve done a bit of research and there are online vendors with their own versions of saffron garlic pistachios, but we can’t vouch for their sourcing nor their quality. Just keep an eye out for the “Natural As Possible” label along I-5 in the Valley.