Detroit Eats

Musings of A Detroit Based Food Fanatic

Posts Tagged ‘Grilling

On the Grill – Rack of Lamb

with 10 comments

Chop 3  

     Years ago I worked at a very well known restaurant here in Detroit. As a line Chef it was my responsibility to prepare several of the menu items to order. I remember many of the items I prepared. On the appetizer menu there was a Calamari with a Tomato and Basil Burre Blanc and Oysters Rockefeller. For entrees I remember Sautéed Whitefish, Sweetbreads,Roast Duck with a Rosemary infused Red Wine and Honey reduction and Rack of Lamb. I loved Rack of lamb. One of the reasons was that in a Lamb Rack (double rack) there are 9 bone. Now a portion at the restaurant was 4 bones so I would get 2 orders plus one end piece that couldn’t be served. being and end piece it wasn’t a full chop and only had a small amount of meat. What to do with this chop. Many times it was sacrificed for quality control. You can read into that what you like! Ever since this experience Rack of Lamb has been one of my favorites.

     Due to the cost involved I don’t get to have Rack of Lamb often and almost never order it in a restaurant but I went shopping today and what did I find on sale but Rack of Lamb. It was still pricy but I couldn’t pass it up. I immediately took it home and started to marinate it. Since I was planning on cooking it over charcoal I though a Mediterranean approach would be in order. In Italy or Greece this would have meant meant olive oil, garlic,lemon and fresh rosemary but several years ago I discovered a Middle Eastern spice blend called Zatar. Zatar is a spice blend with many uses. It is sprinkled on pita dough before baking. It is also a seasoning for meats. Once I added it to my rack of lamb marinade there was no going back. The rosemary was out and the Zatar was in.

With the weather warming up again it was a pretty good day for grilling. I built the fire so that I could take advantage of indirect heat cooking while being able to move my Lamb onto the fire as I felt necessary. I also soaked a few hickory chips to take advantage of the smoke. This method produces a very nice Rack of Lamb!

     Unfortunately I can’t really offer a real recipe for this dish as it’s always been something I have just done as a technique.I’m hoping that I’ve given enough information so that anyone who likes lamb but was intimidated by cooking a rack will it will give it a try. I am always available to answer question about cooking so folks shouldn’t hesitate to ask!

    To go along with the Lamb I served a Mushroom Risotto and Sautéed Spinach.

Mushroom Risotto

  • 1½ cups Orzo
  • 1 qt mushroom or Chicken stock
  • ½ cup white wine
  • ½ small onion, chopped (about ½ cup)
  • 1 cup chopped fresh mushrooms
  • 4 Tbsp unsalted butter (½ stick)
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese

    Heat your stock up separately and reserve. Keep warm.

    Sauté the onion and mushroom in a little vegetable oil and 1 tablespoon of butter until the onion is soft.

    Add the orzo and continue stirring until the rice is coated with the oil.

    Add the wine and continue stirring until all the wine is absorbed.

    Lower the flame to medium and slowly add the stock a little bit at a time and stir constantly. You don’t have to stir fast but you must continue stirring. Continue adding stock until the orzo swell and your mix gets creamy (20 – 30 minutes). Test the orzo to make sure it is not crunchy if it is add more stock.

    When the Orzo is done stir in the remaining Butter and Parmesan cheese and serve immediately)


    • Zatar is available in any Middle Eastern grocery and a little goes a long way so it’s worth the investment.
    • For presentation sake I like to buy Racks that have been Frenched. What this means is that the fat and connective tissue that exists between each bone has been removed and the bones scraped. This gives your chops that nice “Lollipop” effect If I can’t get it that way I French it myself.
    • Remember to let your meat “rest”. This allows the juices to settle and they won’t run out of the meat when you cut into it.
    • With lamb I never cook past medium rare. The meat should be pink but not bloody.
    • For the Risotto I like to use orzo instead of Arborio Rice. It works just as well and I like the texture of the grain.
    • Using a wild mushroom in the Risotto is a great way to go but not absolutely essential.
    • Do not walk away from the Risotto it need to be stirred continually.
    • If your Risotto seems too thick add a little heavy cream or stock to make it creamy again.

    rack 1 

  • Bon Appétit!

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    Written by Ed Schenk

    April 12, 2010 at 5:42 am

    On the Grill – Smoked Chicken

    with 18 comments

         smoked chicken

         I love to BBQ!! Something about the smoke and fire make it a primal experience for me.Through the years I have had a variety of grills from an oil barrel grill to a water smoker.I used to be a “Charcoal Only” person but several years ago i even had an opportunity purchase a gas grill , at a reasonable price. and learned to like it.I have grilled/ smoked everything from geese to potatoes! A goal of mine is to get comfortable enough with BBQ that I enter the world of Competitive BBQ ( I have a cousin on the east coast who does this quite successfully. Her team is the Purple Turtle team ).

         It has gotten warm enough to start smoking again. Although I will, on a whim, grill/smoke in even the most inclement weather I try to save my resources for spring and fall. Whole chicken were on sale at the market this week and provided me with the opportunity.

        One of the most important elements of BBQ is to  prepare your meat. For the chicken I used a brine. This does two things.  The smoke clings to the salt in the brine better and the chicken stays moist from the brine. This brine will be enough for 2 chickens. I brined them for 5 1/2 hours. Also, as long as you are getting a fire going you may as well smoke as much as you can. no sense wasting all that good smoke! When I do ribs I always throw a chicken on too.

     A basic brine recipe:


    One Gallon water
    One Cup Kosher Salt
    One Cup Sugar (Brown)




    Right now I still have my trusty Weber Kettle ( 20 years old) and am using to smoke. One of the important things to remember about smoking is that the rule is “Low and Slow”. I put the charcoal on one side of the grill and a drip pan filled with water on the other. I place the chicken over the drip pan so the fat that is rendered doesn’t burn. Also the water help to moderate the heat. My goal is to cook between 225 and 250 degrees.

    Smoked Chicken 3     Although there are several  types of wood people use to smoke I like hickory. I soak my chips in water for an hour before tossing them on my fire. I have a thermometer in the grill to monitor temperature and I adjust accordingly by opening and closing the lid and/or the air holes on the top and bottom of the grill. My chickens took approximately 2 1/2 hours to cook.

    Smoked Chicken 2

         We ate our chicken hot off the grill. I am making a smoked chicken and vegetable Penne Pasta with the leftover from the one chicken and the other one will go in the freezer for another day!

    Written by Ed Schenk

    March 9, 2010 at 12:32 am