Eddie Merlot’s New Menu Scores Big

Ask a restaurateur or chef how they go about changing their menus and you’ll get a wide variety of answers depending upon the type of establishment they run. Whether the challenge is a full menu revamp, or a seasonal change, striking a harmonious menu balance between creativity, cost management and consumer demand is never an easy task.

Wagyu1IMG_0895EWhen Eddie Merlot’s revamped their entire fall/winter dinner menu, (50 changes were made), EM owner, Bill Humphries, further challenged his staff with a very specific task: find a new steak that has the WOW factor! “We went to numerous ranches and top purveyors to find it,” described Tony Dee, Eddie Merlot’s Corporate Executive Chef.

What they found was a 20 oz. Wagyu Bone-In New York Strip that has never been offered in the U.S. from Greg Norman Australian Prime. Per their request, Norman’s company fabricated a “Signature Wagyu” with a marble score of 6.

Considering that most prime grade cuts have a marble score of 3, Merlot’s new Strip promised everything ‘wow’ and more. What makes the cut so different according to Dee, is “the texture and the taste. It has a buttery taste to it and the marbling is fantastic!”

Wagyu2IMG_0899EThe response thus far has been overwhelmingly positive from EM staff and customers. Are they worried that someone will try to copy them now? Dee mused he doesn’t know how you’d ever be able to copyright a menu, “there’s nothing we can do about it if someone copies us now – but that would be the best compliment.”

In addition to the new Strip, Merlot’s upgraded their 32 oz Signature Wagyu Tomahawk Ribeye, and added a 20 oz Bone-In Bison Ribeye and 7 oz Bison Filet Mignon to the mix. Wagyu sliders, burgers and even a ½ pound Wagyu hot dog are on their new Lounge Menu now too.

On the subject of changing menus, Dee says it’s important to do it for seasonal change and variety. You have to keep the freshest of ingredients on the menu when they’re in season to be satiable and fiscally smart. “We try to be smart as much as possible,” offers Dee, “but we’re also not afraid to go out and find great product. We want to provide the very best we can – that’s one of the reasons this company is so great.”

From the desk of John Cecala || Website   LinkedIn   @BuedelFineMeats  Facebook

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Meat Clips | 6 Posts for Managing Meat Costs

Last week, Fox News reported that some fast-food chains had experienced ground beef rates “up 24 percent from a year ago”.Steer Grass

Meat prices are high; that’s old news. News also not likely to change quickly according to a cattle market publisher who says, “livestock producers are just starting to replenish their herds”, and doesn’t expect prices to come down “until 2017.”

The challenges of drought in a market with steadily increasing global demands, puts us knee deep in the classic cycle of things get worse before they get better. Needless to say, keeping balance between food costs, and customer expectations is all the tougher for it.

If you’re looking for inspiration on cost containment, check out our most recent post: Why is it so hard to get a thick steak these days? (The short answer is larger cattle; with larger cattle there are larger muscles.)

Restaurants who want to offer a variety of smaller sized steaks without sacrificing taste or presentation will find this a helpful read. Smaller portioned Rib Eyes and Strips can be thick, juicy and cost efficient!

For additional tips and ideas on managing meat costs and menus, check out our list of relative posts below.

Premium alternatives to Prime Rib and Tenderloin without the premium price:      How to Manage Holiday Menu Costs with Boneless Strip Loin

Bill & Hold, Reduce Portion Size, Alternative Cuts, Trim Specs and Buy More/Receive Less are some of the best methods for defraying cost:                     5 Tips to Keep From Paying More

What if we said you could make more money (real margin dollars), with a higher food cost percentage? Crazy, right? How Food Margins Get You to the Bank

How do you maintain profits with food costs escalating faster than your customer’s disposable income? Quality Doesn’t Cost, It Pays

Help in four words: chop-ready-primal-cuts …no waste, hidden costs or by-products!  How to Slim Down Your Food Costs in the New Year

From the desk of  John Cecala || Website  LinkedIn  @BuedelFineMeats  Facebook

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Enter through the Side Door

By Russ Kramer, Corporate Chef

Have you heard aboSideDoor Literallyut the Side Door yet? It’s an “American gastropub focusing on roasted meats and shareable plates”, as described by Lawry’s Executive Chef, Victor Newgren on a recent WGN Lunchbreak segment.

Why Lawry’s?

Side Door is a concept developed by Lawry’s – a contemporary take on their rich history. It shares the same address with the famous Prime Rib brand at 100 East Ontario, but you (literally) enter through a side entrance on Rush Street.

For those of you who haven’t thought about Lawry’s lately, quite a lot has happened over the years. 2014 marks its 40th year in Chicago, and there are Lawry’s locations in Beverly Hills, Dallas, Vegas, Singapore and Japan. Beverly Hills celebrated its 75th year in business last year, and the Vegas restaurant just won an Open Table Diners’ Choice this year. All is well in Lawryland.

Gastro by Design

Part of the charm of the Gastropub is a casual environment. There are no dress codes or formal dressed waiters – just high end food, stellar drinks and communal conversation. Some Gastropubs have a minimalist contemporary feel to them with lots of bright light and community table seating, where others may have a more rustic feel to them, with wood trimmed walls and rich leatheSideDoor interiorr booths.

The first Side Door opened in 2009 in Corona Del Mar, positioned adjacent to Lawry’s sister restaurant, Five Crowns, fashioned after an authentic English country inn. (Five Crowns’ history dates back to 1936 – it was once the hot spot for movie stars.) The Chicago location has an open “display kitchen” and is more rustic, with an almost speakeasy feel to it. A perfect setting for casual intimate fare and camaraderie.

Gastrogrub

SideDoorbrewGastropubs and Gastrolounges have been around longer than you may think; England is credited with opening the first Gastropub in 1991. (They didn’t hit Chicago until the early 2000’s.) The difference between them is, pubs, focus on beers, and lounges supposedly focus more on cocktails. The Chicago Bar Project further subdivided the category to include “Gastroraunts” – read their post to find out why. Side Door’s focus leans towSideDoorAngusBeefCheeseburgerard “craft beers” and “barrel aged spirits”.

Where the lines of distinction may blur on alcohol, the food is always high end quality at digestible prices. Yesteryear bar menus (i.e. mozzarella sticks, nachos and fried mushrooms) are replaced with today’s gourmet bites and contemporary cuisines.

SidedoorMeatBoardSide Door’s menu is superb. Served on wood cutting boards, their roasted meat boards are filled with beef short rib, lamb top round and prime sirloin. Opposite of charcuterie, which is cold, (they have that too), the meat boards are hot.

Side Door makes their own pastrami from Creekstone Farms premium black Angus beef, offer killer burgers and Lawry’s famous prime rib on sandwiches.They also have take out service and live jazz every Tuesday night.SideDoor logo

The Side Door is open from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m., Monday through Friday, and from 4:30-11 on Saturdays and Sundays. No reservations required. Look for the “Red Key” on Rush.

From the desk of John Cecala || Website  LinkedIn  @BuedelFineMeats  Facebook  

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Ergo Chef: A Cut Above the Rest

If necessity is the proverbial mother of invention, then Ergo Chef is a poster child. This is the story of how a family owned knife company was born.

In 1996, Chef Scott Staib was on the foodservice fast track as Sous Chef for Aramark. Rising through the ranks, the Johnson & Wales graduate was poised for great things – until he was derailed by tendonitis and carpal tunnel syndrome from the frequent motion of chopping and slicing.

We spoke with Chef Scott’s brother, Mike Staib, VP of Sales & Marketing at Ergo Chef, to find out what happened next…

Uncle George Staib, Shipping Manager

How did your family actually get to the point of making knives?

My mother, father, brother and I were actually sitting around the table one night. Scott had just been to the doctor that day. The doc told him he’d either have to come up with some alternative method or go to “the front of the house”. No way did Scott want to stop cooking – it was heartbreaking for him to imagine that. So, we started putting our heads together…

My brother and some of his chef buddies had a sit down at my dad’s company (Capital Design & Engineering) with my dad and his engineers – I watched. We started looking at how a knife fits into a chef’s hand, wrist movements during chopping and the angle of a knife when it hits a cutting board.

That’s how our ideas for developing an ergonomically sound knife came to fruition. We made a prototype and my brother’s symptoms disappeared within just three weeks of using it.

CrimsonKnifeWOW! That truly is amazing, you must have all been so excited!

We were – we had created a true extension of a chef’s hand.

On the Chopping Block

The next step was testing. We made lots of prototypes and sent them out with questionnaires to chefs, and cooking schools. We collected several years of feedback to make sure it was more than, just a knife for my brother. Over 90% of the people who tested, wanted the product. We thought, ‘hey – we really have something here!’ Then we had to find a manufacturer.

We fumbled in the beginning as many new companies do… dissected the steels, used high carbon from Germany. We went through one run in New York state which didn’t work, and then tried another source in Taiwan, which did incredible work, but we had to remake all the tooling – we almost called it quits.

It wasn’t until 2003 that we had the first great batch, and by 2005, we had a full line. Then we hooked up to an import company in New Jersey. Now, we’re available throughout the US and some parts of Canada. We were in Australia for a while, but the Aussies couldn’t get use to the design.

presidentialsealsWe also heard you are connected to former White House Chefs?               

Yes, we met Sam Morgante, who served as a White House Chef under George W., at a couple of industry shows. He came over and tried our product at the booth and really liked it. Sam then introduced us to former White House Chef, Martin Mongiello, who started the Presidential Culinary Museum. We have some Presidential Food Service Knife Sets on our website now – we truly value working with a veteran owned business.

How many family members work at Ergo Chef?

Our sister, Lori, is the office administrator… and our Uncle – a Vietnam Vet. He retired from the Post Office and said, “he wanted something to do part-time”, so he’s packing and shipping for us now.

L to R at the 2013 Houseware’s Show: Sister, Lori, Chef Randy Smith, Chef Scott Staib and Mike Staib

We rent space for the company in the back of the building of my dad’s business. There’s a door between us, so we can go over there and work with the engineers whenever we need to.

If it wasn’t for our father, we wouldn’t be in business today. He let us use his machines, his engineers – he literally gave us all of our R&D. You take out a loan for the business, and it makes a statement – to have been able to do our R&D like this – it’s huge!

What is your brother’s role?

Uncle George, Ergo Chef Shipping Manager

Uncle George, Ergo Chef Shipping Manager

Scott is actually president of the company, works R&D on new products and handles chef accounts – we found many restaurants rent their knives. He’s cooking only at home now – he actually leaves work, goes home and cooks dinner.

It’s ironic that all this started to keep him professionally nimble and now he’s running the company and not cooking anymore…

Yes! You certainly don’t start out saying, “I’m going to start a knife company!”

…and what were you doing before this all evolved?

I was in sales, marketing my father’s company and ultrasonics – plastic joining – they use the process in the medical field, for cell phones, in the car industry. I learned development of tools there, so I could sit down from the layman’s view with my brother the chef vs. home cooks, etc.

Cut to the Chase

What have been your biggest challenges in marketing the company?

Getting people used to the deErgo Knife Videosign – how do you do that when things are under glass? We just created a video, it has helped us a lot to show people how it works. It’s the angle and the rocking motion that really helps.

Another challenge we face is getting reps to present our products to buyers when they’re looking for new lines in our category. It’s tough when reps are presenting thousands of products – it gets deluded. This is another area where the video has helped.

The other challenge is branding – trying to get our name out there every year without a big budget. Advertising is too expensive. When Professional Chefs and BBQ Chefs use our knives at events, or on TV, we sometimes see a spike, but the internet is where it’s at – we’re trying to work that.

Where can you buy Ergo Chef knives?

You can buy them on Amazon and at gourmet kitchen stores across the country. [There’s a zip code search on their website.] You can also buy directly from our site.

Chef Scott and Mike will be at the International Home & Housewares Show, March 15-18 in Chicago. Stop by and see them at the Ergo Chef booth S 1460.

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How to Manage Holiday Menu Costs with Boneless Strip Loin

Buedel Fine Meats StriploinPrime Rib and Beef Tenderloin are traditional favorites for carving stations and banquet events during the holidays. Due to the increase in seasonal demand, price spikes often occur, by as much as 30%.

The good news is, there is a premium alternative without a premium price: Boneless Strip Loin.

Anatomically, the Strip Loin muscle is part of the Short Loin. One side of the Short Loin is the Tenderloin; the other side is the Strip Loin, where the ubiquitous New York Strip Steak is fabricated.

The Strip Loin is a muscle that does little work when the animal moves, thus making it relatively tender. It is an extremely versatile cut of beef used for roasts or cut into steaks. Though not as tender as rib eyes or tenderloins, strip loins are very flavorful due to consistent marbling and nice firm textures.

Breaking it Down

Beef Strip LoinLike any cut of meat, there are variations of quality within the Strip Loin muscle. These variations can be left intact or removed depending on your application. An understanding of the anatomy of the Strip Loin can help better balance your food costs to your menu options and guests’ dining experience. The main parts of the Strip Loin are the Rib End or “Center”, the Sirloin End or “Vein End”, the Back Strap and the Tail.

Rib End or Center This is the main part of the Strip Loin. It’s a single muscle that is tender with a firm texture and delicious taste. The quality is determined by the marbling within the muscle as determined by the USDA grades, Prime, Upper Choice, Choice or Select. The higher the grade, the higher the quality, eating experience and price will be.

Sirloin End or Vein End Found on the posterior end of the Strip Loin, this part is commonly called the “vein end” because it is where the sirloin muscle joins together with the strip loin muscle. Between these two muscles is stringy connective tissue called the vein – a huge variation of quality in the Strip Loin. The connective vein is practically inedible and does not break down when cooked. Vein Ends can however, be removed and used for other applications such as, Steak & Eggs, Steak Salad, Chicken Fried Steak and Sandwich Steaks.

Back Strap Also known as, “Strap”, the Back Strap is a 2” thick ligament membrane which runs along the top-back of the Strip Loin. It is edible and can be left on, however, for higher quality steaks and roasts the back strap is often removed for a better eating experience.

TailTail Sometimes referred to as a “Lip”, the Tail is found at the tapered end of the main strip loin muscle. It is comprised of fat and connective tissue.

When purchasing Strip Loins, you’ll typically hear the term, 0x1 or 1×1, which refers to the size of the tail on the strip loin. 1×1 means the tail size is 1″ long all the way across the end of Strip Loin. 0x1 means the tail is 0″ on one end (No Tail) and 1″ in size at the other end of the Strip Loin. As you would expect, 0x0 means there is no tail on the Strip Loin.

Why would/should you care about the size of the tail? The tail is a variation of quality; the less tail, the higher quality and price. The Tail is often the part left on diners’ plates.

Putting it All Together

Striploin DiagramWhen ordering Strip Loin Roasts or Strip Steaks you can specify the trim level you desire for your menu application and quality. More trim, means fewer variations of quality, a better eating experience and higher price whether you’re cutting your own or buying portion control.

Manage your holiday menu costs with these common options for purchasing Strip Loins, Strip Loin Roasts and Strip Steaks:

Boneless Strip Loins, Roasts & Steak Ready

• Boneless Strip Loin 1×1: A whole boneless strip loin with 1″ tail fat across the entire loin.

• Boneless Strip Loin 0x1: A whole boneless strip loin with 1″ tail fat on the Rib End and 0″ tail fat on the Vein end. This is the most common option for whole strip loins.

• Boneless Strip Loin Back Strap Off Steak Ready: A whole boneless strip loin with the back strap ligament removed. Buyers can also specify the tail length desired.

• Boneless Strip Loin Center Cut No Vein Steak Ready: A whole boneless strip loin with the vein end removed. A single muscle cut for roasts or steaks. Buyers can also specify tail length and removal of the back strap.

Boneless Strip Loin Steaks

• Full Cut or End-to-End, MBG#1180: Steaks are cut from the entire strip loin from the rib end to the vein end.

• Center Cut, MBG#1180A: Steaks are cut from only the rib end up to where the vein end appears one only one side of the last steak. In addition to the portion size, buyers can also specify the tail length and back strap on or off with Full and Center cuts.

The Strip Loin roast is a tender cut with a delightful beefy flavor and texture that when properly aged and cooked, will receive rave reviews. Strip Loins provide a great premium alternative for your holiday menus.

New York Strip Roast Recipe

1 (5-6 lb) New York Strip Roast
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons kosher salt
1 tablespoon freshly ground pepper

Strip RoastPreheat oven to 500ºF. Place roast, fat side up, in roasting pan fitted with rack. Rub roast with olive oil and season all sides with salt and pepper. Place in the oven for about 12 minutes. Reduce oven temp to 300ºF and continue cooking about 15 to 20 minutes per pound depending on desired doneness: Very Rare 130°, Rare 140°, Medium Rare 145°, Medium 160°, Well 170°.

Loosely tent roast with foil and let stand 15 minutes. Slice roast across the grain. Find more recipes at: http://www.yummly.com/recipes/beef-strip-loin

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5 Ideas to Spark Fall Menus

Braised Lamb Shank

Braised Lamb Shank

Who doesn’t love Fall? The weather is still enjoyable, football is back, and the leaves will soon turn those gorgeous red, purple and orange colors – it is my favorite time of year.

The seasonal change from warm days to chilly nights also signals the introduction of fall menus for chefs and restaurateurs.

September opens the door to robust dishes and heartier meats; wild game and duck are also now in season.

Here are some inspiring ideas for  building Fall menus using a variety of meat selections and slower cooking methods:

Shanks a lot!

Shanks are terrific for braising. They are fattier with more connective tissue rich with collagen that along with the bone adds fabulous flavor when cooked. Shanks are also relatively inexpensive. Lamb, Pork, and Veal Shanks make excellent braising choices.  

Rack of Lamb

Rack of Lamb

We recommend using Domestic Colorado lamb shanks, though Australian and New Zealand lamb will work too. Compared to imported lamb, which is typically grass fed, American lamb has grain in its diet and tastes less “gamey”. Domestic lamb is larger in size and presents beautifully on the plate; many say it is the highest in quality and consistency.

For pork shanks with a little something special, try the Duroc breed hogs. This breed produces well marbled very tasty meat and competitively compares with higher priced Berkshire or Kurobuta pork.  

When it comes to Veal shanks, Domestic No. 1 Special Fed veal is our favorite. These calves are raised on a milk formula supplement. Their meat color is ivory or creamy pink, with a firm, fine, and velvety appearance superbly tender and delicious.

Other Cuts

Beef Short Ribs

Beef Short Ribs

Bone-In Beef Short Ribs can be braised whole, or portion cut in a variety of ways, from traditional 3-bone short ribs to Tomahawk Cut single or double bone-in short ribs. Boneless short ribs can also be rolled & tied before braising for a unique plate presentation.

Shoulder Cuts of all types are also perfect for braising. Lamb, Pork, and Veal shoulder cuts are typically favored for stew dishes.  

Cheek Meat has become quite popular in trendy restaurants and bistros. Beef, pork, and veal cheeks are rich with flavor and suitable for producing smaller portions. Ox Tails are also excellent for braising.

Rotisserie Raves

Rotisserie cooking allows you to cook whole pieces of meat, which can be used across multiple dishes on your menu. This maximizes your yield, saves labor and leverages your food cost.

The best candidates for rotisserie cooking are Lamb Leg, Lamb Rack, Lamb Top Round, Veal Shoulder Pork Rack and Pork Loin. Chicken, Duck, and Cornish Hens are also traditional rotisserie favorites.

Get Your Game On

Venison 8 Rib Rack

Venison 8 Rib Rack

Game meats have also risen in popularity in recent years. Known to be highly flavorful, some of these meats also have lower fat content.

Elk, Venison, Bison, Rabbit and Duck all make great game for fall menus. Elk and Venison racks lend themselves well to a variety of recipes. Bison flanks and chuck rolls are excellent for hearty pot roast. Rabbit can be stewed or braised in a number of ways, and Duck is always a traditional favorite.

Recipe Starters

To help get your creative juices flowing, check out some of these fab Fall recipes for ideas:

Savuer – 25 Recipes for Braised Meats

Recipes from Chef Hans Susser: Roast Pork Butt, Braised Veggies, Pork Jus & Applesauce  Braised Oxtail & Potato Dumplings  Braised Beef Ribs In Red Wine

Recipes from Chef Danilo Alfaro:  Veal Shank Osso Buco  Braised Lamb Shoulder  Braised Chicken Stew

Happy Fall!

From the desk of  John Cecala   @BuedelFineMeats   Fan Page   Slideshare

 

 

 

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Meat Picks | 3.28.13

Easter Feast

The “sacrificial” lamb dinner is traditional to Jewish Passover and Christian Easter. Ham also became popular in North America when pigs were slaughtered in the fall when there was no refrigeration. Leftover pork was cured (a long process at the time) throughout the winter months until it was ready in Spring – just in time for Easter dinner.

There are many fine varieties of Lamb you can choose to make this Easter from domestic American Lamb, to New Zealand and Australian imports. Buedel Managing Partner & Corporate Chef, Russ Kramer, suggests cooking Lamb Racks, Leg of Lamb or Lamb Shoulder and Shanks.

“French cut lamb racks make a beautiful plate presentation and are easy to roast,” Chef Russ recommends. “If you opt for Leg of Lamb, you can select a boneless lamb leg B-R-T, which stands for boned, rolled and tied, or, a French Carving Leg of Lamb, where the leg is boneless except for a small partial part of the bone that is exposed. Boneless Lamb Shoulder or Bone-In Lamb shanks, slowly braised, also make for a tender and delicious meal.”

Chef Russ’ favorite Easter recipe calls for a roasted Leg of Lamb studded with either, a fresh garlic and parsley, or shallot and herb smear. “Simply chop up shallots and herbs, blend with white wine and ‘smear’ it on the lamb before cooking. For something truly unique, try smoking the lamb instead of roasting it.”

Egg-cetera

Bon Appétit says the “grown-up solution” to dyed eggs is deviled eggs, but did you know that decorating eggs dates back all the way to the 1300’s? Or, that the largest Easter egg ever made was 25 feet high and weighed 8,000 pounds? It was built out of chocolate and marshmallow and supported by an internal steel frame. Find more fun facts at History.com.

Happy Easter!

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From the desk of John Cecala Twitter @ Buedel Fine Meats  Facebook  Buedel Fan Page

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New Year, New Ewe!

Healthy eating is at the forefront of most everyone’s mind this month and along with it search for lean meats and proteins. Did you know Lamb delivers both?

A former “fatty”, Lamb has become significantly lean in recent decades due to better breeding systems and trimming methods. Today’s Lamb is low in “bad” (saturated) fat.

You don’t have to be sheepish when it comes to serving Lamb anymore.

Health Stats

►Calorically speaking, a three and half ounce serving of Lamb loin is only 6 calories more than an equal serving of salmon and about 11 calories less per ounce than beef.

►Lamb is a stellar source of protein. A serving of Lamb delivers a whopping 30 grams of protein, 54% of the daily recommended requirement for men and 65% for women.

►Lamb also provides a good resource of iron, zinc and vitamin B12.

►The niacin (vitamin B3) found in Lamb has been reported to provide protection against Alzheimer’s, promotes healthy skin and greatly retards the risk of developing osteoarthritis.

►Lean Lamb is a “selenium-rich food”. A mineral reported raising mood levels from poor to good, selenium is further known for its antioxidant properties which boost the immune system and promote good health.

Cuts & Cooks

► Upwards of 2,000 breeds of sheep have been arguably documented through the ages. Sheep meat is  categorized by age: Lamb, being less than a year old, Hogget, over a year old and Mutton, two years of age and older.

Fun Fact: Mutton fat was used to create macon during the WWII food rationing era as a substitute for bacon.

► Milk-fed, Young, Spring, Sucker, Yearling and Saltmarsh are global distinctions used in describing Lamb.

►Legs, loins, racks and chops are just some of the types of cuts of Lamb available today.

►Lamb can be roasted, grilled, boiled, stewed, skewered, braised (try it in wine with spices) and ground for burgers – yes, burgers!

► French, Mediterranean, and Welsh cuisines are among the most notable for Lamb. Rosemary, garlic, mint, tarragon, apricots, cucumber, nuts, tomatoes and yogurt are typical of the ingredients used in preparing center of the plate dishes and sauces.

Here’s a great recipe for Mediterranean style Lamb Chops adapted from the Niman Ranch cookbook:

Mediterranean Lamb Chops with                                 Cucumber-Yogurt Dip           

Lamb                                                                                                                                      

2 lamb racks, about 1 ½ lbs. each, frenched and trimmed                                                     5 T extra virgin olive oil                                                                                                           ¼ C loosely packed fresh rosemary leaves, chopped                                                            2 T fresh thyme leaves, chopped                                                                                             6 cloves garlic, chopped                                                                                                         1 t kosher salt                                                                                                                           1 t cracked black pepper

Dip

1 C plain whole-milk Greek style yogurt                                                                                  1 cucumber, peeled, seeded and grated                                                                                 3 oz. feta cheese, crumbled                                                                                                    2 cloves garlic, minced                                                                                                           1 T extra virgin olive oil                                                                                                   Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

Prepare Lamb  Place lamb in baking dish. Combine 4 T of olive oil with the rosemary, thyme, garlic, salt and pepper in a small bowl. Rub mixture over the lamb, coating evenly. Refrigerate at least 4 hours and up to 24 hours.

Prepare Dip  Combine yogurt, cucumber, cheese, garlic and olive oil in a bowl; season with salt and pepper. Cover and chill until the flavors meld, at least 2 hours, up to 8 hours.

Finish Lamb  Remove lamb from the fridge and let set for at least 1 hour. Pre-heat oven to 350ºF.  Heat the remaining tablespoon of olive oil in a large, ovenproof skillet over high heat. Wipe the marinade from the lamb and season the meat with salt and pepper. Add lamb to skillet meat side down and cook, turning once, for about 2 minutes per side until browned.

Transfer to oven and roast for about 12 minutes, or until thermometer inserted into the center away from bone reads 130ºF for medium rare.

Transfer the racks to a cutting board and let rest for 5 to 10 minutes. Cut each rack into individual chops and arrange on a platter. Serve the dip on the side. Makes 4-6 servings.

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From the desk of John Cecala Twitter @ Buedel Fine Meats  Facebook  Buedel Fan Page

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