Ro Howe, chef-owner of Barraud Caterers in New York City—a long-time writer for Women’s Voices for Change—is our favorite chef. Here’s her recipe for welcoming Spring, whether or not she’s still in a cave somewhere, hugging her silken skirts tight against the cold.
Nature works to her calendar, we work to ours. Easter is early this year, and Spring is late. No wonder both we and Mother Nature are out of sorts: bare branches staring in Easter’s face, with the urge to bud restrained by chill flights of wind and scuffles of snow around the tree roots, and Spring, sitting hugging her skirts tight in her dark cave, buffeted by blasted threats of Arctic ire.
But here’s a smiling way to hope-tempt the buds out of bed. As if we were distracting a child from ill humor, let’s just wrap up warmly, carry on, and plan a delicious dinner to tease glee from grump. Here’s a menu smiling at the edges and warm in the middle for a spring-welcoming feast.
Parmesan polenta cakes with Marsala peas
Buttermilk pea mousse with prosciutto crisps
Oysters with passionfruit gelée and horseradish mayonnaise
Arugula panna cotta with pickled radishes
Roast lamb chop au jus with red currant jelly and broccoli rabe
English cottage Cheddar mousse with potato crisps and apple whipped cream
Chocolate bread pudding with caramel and whipped cream
Roast Lamb Chop au Jus with Red Currant Jelly and Broccoli Rabe
Yield: Eight portions
Equipment: Four-quart saucepan, colander, large mixing bowl, two large sauté pans, roasting pan or flat sheet tray, metal kitchen tongs, measuring spoons and cups.
16-inch-thick trimmed lamb chops
1/2 C oregano leaves, coarsely chopped
¼ C kosher salt
4 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
¼ C extra virgin olive oil
3 bunches broccoli rabe trimmed into 3-to-4-inch lengths
½ C extra virgin olive oil
2 Tablespoons peeled, sliced garlic
1 ½ teaspoons red pepper flakes
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 ½ C good-quality red currant jelly—preferably English
Combine the salt and pepper and sprinkle on one side of each chop. Sprinkle with oregano. Press in with the flat of your hands. Turn over the chops and dress the other side. Place on flat dish or in large Ziploc bag and refrigerate overnight, or for at least two hours.
Combine the half cup of olive oil, sliced garlic, red pepper flakes, and salt and pepper.
Boil salted water in a medium saucepan. Prepare a large bowl with cold water and ice. Plunge a large handful of trimmed broccoli into the boiling water to blanch for one minute. Transfer to colander to drain. Transfer to ice bath to shock. Repeat till all broccoli has been blanched. This eliminates some of the oxalic acid that makes the broccoli bitter. Drain.
Bring lamb chops to room temperature. Heat oven to 400 degrees. Heat a large sauté pan or skillet. Add a little olive oil. When the pan starts to smoke, add two or three chops, making sure there is space between each chop. When seared to a nice crusty brown, sear on other side. Remove to roasting sheet. Repeat till all chops are seared. Place in oven for 8 to 10 minutes for rare–medium rare, longer if desired.
While the lamb is cooking, heat a large, wide sauté pan. Add the garlic red pepper oil. Add the broccoli rabe and sauté, turning the broccoli in pan to fully coat with the oil.
Place broccoli in dish and two chops on each plate, with a dollop of red currant jelly on each plate.
And now, a toast to the sprightly season we long for (possibly with a Chateau Segondignac Medoc 2008, the perfect Bordeaux for this dish): Come on, Miss Spring—pick up your skirts, put on your floral sandals, and make your entrance—please!