Smoked Pistachio Rack of Lamb

Marc Matsumoto

Hi! I'm Marc, and I want to teach you some basic techniques while giving you the confidence and inspiration to cook without recipes too!

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Smoked Pistachio Rack of Lamb

This is by far the best lamb that I've ever had, and it might very well be one of my favorite meat preparations of all time. It's hard to put into words what it's like taking a bite into one of these juicy lamb chops, but it's a profoundly pleasurable experience in the same category of pleasures as uninhibited sex, standing stage-side at a rock concert, and shredding rubber around a racetrack in a Ferrari.

As you bite through the crust, your taste buds and olfactory senses light up as they're stimulated by salt and smoke, followed by pungent garlic punctuated with cumin and black pepper, which eventually gives way to a creamy toasty pistachio flavor accented with mint and just a hint of smoke. The contrast of the piquant exterior with the sweet juicy meat just beneath is orally stimulating, and a dip in the pool of sweet, tart pomegranate molasses brings the next bite to another level.

To achieve this carnivorous nirvana, the whole rack of lamb is cured with a crust of pistachios, garlic, mint, cumin and other spices before being tea-smoked and then roasted. It may sound like a substantial chore, but aside from sitting in the fridge overnight, it really doesn't take a lot of time to prepare. I'd be lying to you if I told you it was easy, but before you get intimated by the curing and smoking, consider this, I made this inside a tiny apartment on the thirteenth floor of a high-rise. If you're wondering how I managed to smoke something in an apartment building without having the fire brigade axing down my door, I'll tell you.

Smoked Pistachio Rack of Lamb

It involves putting sugar (the starter) with tea (the aromatic) in the bottom of a heavy duty pan, and heating it until the sugar starts to burn. This in turn sets the tea leaves smoking, releasing their aroma and depositing it on the surface of your roast.

It's an awesome technique that allows you to infuse a smoky flavor into your food indoors, but before you try it, you need to be a aware of a few things. While a tight fitting lid helps hold most of the smoke in the pot, some will inevitably escape, especially when you open the lid. If you have a smoke detector anywhere near your kitchen it will almost certainly go off. Also, if you don't have an externally venting range hood, I don't recommend you try this.

You'll also want to use a pot that is safe to use at very high temperatures (never use teflon coated pans for smoking). While the aluminum foil is there to keep the burning sugar and tea away from the surface of your pan, the high temperatures involved will discolor stainless steel. I use a non-enamled cast iron dutch oven with a metal steamer rack insert, but an uncoated wok with steamer insert should work as well.

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Smoked Pistachio Rack of LambThis is by far the best lamb that I've ever had, and it might very well be one of my favorite meat preparations of all time. It's hard to put into words what it's like taking a bite into one of these juicy lamb chops, but it's a profoundly pleasurable experience in the same category of pleasures as ...

Summary

  • Courseentrée
  • CuisineMediterranean
  • Cooking Time40 minutesPT0H40M
  • Preparation Time10 minutesPT0H10M
  • Total Time50 minutesPT0H50M

Ingredients

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6 cloves
Garlic (about half a head peeled)
1/4 cup
Fresh mint leaves
2 tablespoons
Extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon
Sea salt
2 teaspoons
Whole cumin seeds
1 teaspoon
Fennel seeds
1 teaspoon
Whole coriander seeds
1 teaspoon
Black peppercorns
40 grams
Shelled pistachios (about 1/3 cup)
720 grams
Rack of lamb
2 tablespoons
Loose leaf tea
2 teaspoons
Sugar - granulated
Pomegranate molasses (for serving)

Steps

  1. To make the pistachio crust, add the garlic, mint, olive oil, salt, cumin, fennel, coriander, and black peppercorns to the small bowl of a food processor and pulse until everything is roughly ground. You'll need to scrape down the sides of the work-bowl a few times.
  2. Add the pistachios and pulse until the mixture is a coarse gravelly texture.
    Smoked Pistachio Rack of Lamb
  3. Spread the pistachio mixture all over the rack of lamb, cover and refrigerate overnight.
    Smoked Pistachio Rack of Lamb
  4. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 C)
  5. Line a cast iron dutch oven with aluminum foil. Add the tea and sugar then place a wire rack over on top to keep the rack of lamb elevated off the tea and sugar. With an externally venting hood running on high, cover the pot with a tight fitting lid and heat over high until you see smoke coming out from the pot.
    Smoked Pistachio Rack of Lamb
  6. Quickly add the rack of lamb, and close the lid. Smoke the lamb for 10 minutes. Remove the lid, then transfer the pan to the oven and roast until the lamb has reached 135 degrees F (57 C) for medium rare (about 20-25 minutes).
    Smoked Pistachio Rack of Lamb
  7. Remove the lamb from the oven and transfer to a cutting board and allow it to rest for 10 minutes before slicing the lamb chops between the bones.
    Smoked Pistachio Rack of Lamb
  8. Serve with pomegranate molasses.

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