Big news today, folks: a few weeks ago, Marx Foods got in touch with me and offered me the opportunity to be one of ten bloggers to try Silere Alpino Origin Merino Lamb and to develop a recipe using their meat. After I wiped off all the drool from my keyboard, I typed a resounding, “YES OMG PLEASE ALL THE LAMB” (or something to that effect; I try to be a little bit professional, sometimes). Two days later, an icebox filled with lamb arrived at our front doorstep. I may have cried a little.
I broke open my package and pulled out cut after cut of glorious lamb meat. The kids crowded around me, curious about why their mother was simultaneously stomping happy feet, shrieking with delight and marveling over the color and marbling of frozen meat. I explained to the contest to them. Ge Ge (my four-year-old son) grew quiet, his eyes wide. “Mom. Mom. I’m so serious with you right now. Things are about to get AWESOME.”
Things did get awesome. They got awesome in the form of two Frenched lamb racks, marinated overnight in a glorious, yogurt-based tandoori marinade.
The lamb package that I received came with some good information about Silere Alpine Origin Merino Lamb. It’s grass-fed, free-range lamb from New Zealand, which results in leaner, more delicate meat than the typical lamb we’re used to here in the United States. It also cooks up at lower-than-normal temperatures; the suggested temp for most leaner cuts at medium-rare is 110 degrees Fahrenheit (a good 15-20 degrees lower), while fattier cuts (like shoulder and racks) could stand to stay in the oven until they reach an internal temperature of 125 degrees. This concerned me a lot. I actually kind of fretted over it like a concerned parent before a teacher conference.
As it turns out, I didn’t need to worry. Through round after round of testing Silere Alpine lamb, I discovered that it’s delicate, but actually can take a little bit more temperature closer to a standard 135-140 for medium rare racks of lamb. However, because the strong gaminess found in regular lamb isn’t there in Silere Alpine lamb, a rare piece of Silere tastes superbly light, almost like a tender filet mignon.
I decided to showcase Silere Alpine lamb using tandoori spices because tandoori-marinated meat is first of all, incredible, and secondly, really special to the hubby and me. When we lived in Malaysia, our absolute favorite street hawker stall was this tandoori chicken and naan stall housed in a parking lot not far from our house. The stall would start up every evening and these three guys would grill and grill tandoori chicken all night, until it was gone. I won’t lie — sometimes, after a late evening out on the town, the hubby and I would swing by for some chicken in a late night drive-by sort of situation (this was pre-kid, of course, and it was spectacular). We brought every single friend and relative who visited us in Kuala Lumpur to eat at this stall, so much so that by the end of our two years there, whenever the hubby and I showed up just the two of us, the guys running the joint would say, “Why you no bring new American friends today?” I wished so hard that I could’ve learned just a little bit of Tamil so that I could speak to them about what went into their delicious marinade, and over the years I gleaned this much from them: cumin, coriander, turmeric and yogurt. Lots and lots of yogurt.
My marinade requires that you go out and invest in some good, basic Indian spices, but I promise you this: once you start marinating meats tandoori-style, you’ll never stop. One of my favorite parts of summer is concocting varieties of yogurt-based marinades and letting our grilling meats bathe in it while the hubby is at work. He comes home, fires up that grill and we eat the finished product in stock silence because tandoori is just that freaking delicious. With the Silere Alpine lamb racks, I can’t even begin to tell you how lovely the marriage between the two is. The spicing of the tandoori is fragrant, tart and hot, highlighted by the lime zest and smoky paprika. That combination truly springs to life against the tenderness of the lamb, which melts in your mouth after spending the night in tandoori yogurt.
Oh, and as if the tandoori lamb weren’t enough, I whipped up a batch of daal, a red lentil coconut curry. We used the lentils as a bed for the tandoori lamb, which gave it a creamy, mellow base to cool off a little of the heat. I’ll be sharing that recipe soon — it’s one of the kid’s favorites. Anyway, when it’s all together, curry swirled with lamb, it’s a heavenly, satisfying meal.
Hey, maybe I should open up a Silere Alpine hawker stall on my driveway. Sure, it’d be the most expensive street food ever, but you know what? It would be so worth it.
- 1 tablespoon whole coriander seeds
- 1 tablespoon whole cumin seeds
- 2 tablespoons smoked Hungarian paprika
- 1 2-inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and minced
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon turmeric (fresh, if you can find it)
- ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1 tablespoon coarse kosher salt
- 1 tablespoon ground black pepper
- 5 cloves fresh garlic, minced
- 1 lime, zested and juiced
- 3 cups yogurt
- 2 onions, sliced
- 1 red bell pepper, sliced
- 2 racks of lamb, Frenched
- 2 limes, sliced (for serving)
- ½ cup cilantro, chopped (for serving)
- In a small, dry saucepan, toast cumin seeds and coriander seeds over medium heat, stirring constantly, until golden and toasted (about 2 minutes). Remove from heat and place in a spice or coffee grinder, grinding coarsely.
- Put yogurt in a medium-sized bowl. Add cumin/coriander mixture to yogurt along with lime juice and zest, paprika, ginger, cinnamon, turmeric, cayenne, sugar, salt and pepper and stir well.
- Place lamb racks in a gallon-sized Ziploc bag and add onions and garlic. Pour yogurt marinade into bag, seal and roll over a few times to coat lamb racks well.
- Refrigerate lamb for at least 5 hours, but preferably overnight.
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Prepare a meat thermometer.
- Remove lamb from marinade and brush onions off, reserving everything in bag. Add sliced red bell peppers and turn to coat. Put lamb racks in a roasting pan with a rack and roast for 20-25 minutes until the internal temperature reaches 135 degrees (for medium rare). Let lamb rest for 8-10 minutes.
- While lamb is roasting/resting, heat a large skillet with 2 tablespoons oil on high heat until the oil is shimmering. Pull out onions and bell peppers from the bag using tongs - a good amount of marinade will end up in the pan. Cook onions on high heat until marinade is largely dissolved and onions start to char. Place on a serving platter and arrange lamb racks on top.
- Slice lamb into double ribs and garnish with limes and cilantro.
Note: in order to participate in this contest, I was provided with complimentary cuts of Silere Alpino Origin Merino Lamb from Marx Foods.