“From the SCCC Kitchen” offers Daily Gazette readers tastes from Schenectady County Community College’s nationally accredited American Culinary Federation culinary arts program. Recipes selected by SCCC instructors can be easily prepared in home kitchens. Today, technical specialist Robert L. Payne II — also chef at his family’s The Bears’ Steakhouse in Duanesburg — looks ahead to Easter. His Easy Easter Rack of Lamb, with mushroom risotto and white bean stew, offers hearty helpings for Easter Sunday.
Robert L. Payne II doesn’t want to work too hard on Easter Sunday.
“You’re with the kids, doing the Easter baskets and you don’t have a lot of time,” he said. “You get up and go to church, usually. The last thing I want to do is be really fussy in the kitchen when I come home.”
Payne prefers to do his kitchen prep the night before. Starting with racks of lamb — purchased and already prepared in supermarkets — is the first step. Marinating them is the second.
“I love anything that is simple and easy, especially around the holidays, so you don’t have to fuss,” Payne said. “People are afraid to cook with lamb. All you do is take some mint jelly, chopped fresh mint, parsley, olive oil, some bread crumbs, a little balsamic vinegar, some Parmesan cheese and make up a paste. I coat it really, really well with the paste, wrap it in Saran Wrap and put it in the fridge overnight.”
By early afternoon, the lamb is ready for high heat in the oven and a relatively quick cooking time. Each rack serves two people.
Payne shares credit for his Easter menu with a culinary student, Sharon Masciocco, who said her family’s Easter meal is always served with a white bean stew. The chef added that lamb should not be relegated to appearances on just holiday Sundays in March or April.
“Lamb is so versatile,” he said.
Easy Easter Rack Of Lamb
2 racks of lamb (8 ribs each)
8 garlic cloves, minced
2 sprigs fresh thyme
1⁄8 cup minced parsley
1⁄8 cup fresh mint, minced
1⁄2 cup mint jelly
2 ounces bread crumbs
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 ounces olive oil
Combine seasonings, jelly, bread crumbs, vinegar and olive oil. Mix racks with mixture and set in fridge overnight.
Heat oven to 450 degrees.
Place lamb in roasting pan and roast to desired finish, medium rare to medium, about 20 to 25 minutes.
1 ounce butter
1 ounce vegetable oil
1⁄2 onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 pound Arborio rice
1 to 2 quarts chicken stock
6 ounces Parmesan cheese
8 ounces sliced mushrooms
Kosher salt, to taste
Heat butter and oil in a large sauté pan. Add the onion and garlic and sauté until soft. Add the rice and sauté until fully coated with the fat.
Over medium heat, using a 6-ounce ladle, add one ladle of stock at a time until stock is absorbed and rice is almost dry.
Repeat until all stock is used. It should be moist and creamy, but not runny.
White Bean Stew
1 15-ounce can cannellini beans (Drain beans and reserve liquid)
2 cups water
1 carrot, peeled and diced
1 celery stalk, diced
1 sachet bag (2 black peppercorns, 2 bay leaves, 2 whole cloves, 2 parsley stems — gather all ingredients, place in a piece of cheesecloth and tie with string)
1 cup onion, diced
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 can diced tomatoes, with liquid
1⁄2 stick butter
Add the liquid to a small sauce pan with 2 cups of water. Add the carrot, celery and sachet bag and simmer until vegetables are tender.
In a sauté pan, melt the butter and saute onion until golden. Add the garlic and cook until caramelized.
Add the tomatoes to the vegetable mixture and cook until the liquid is reduced by half and somewhat thickened.
Remove the sachet bag, strain the vegetables, reserving the liquid. Add the vegetable mixture and beans to the frying pan, cook about 10 minutes. Add some of the liquid to the mixture if it is too dry.
Categories: Life and Arts