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Now if Iím just roasting or grilling a single rack, I prefer to leave the chine on because it gives the meat more structure. But when it comes to building a crown roast, chine-off is definitely the way to go. Now we should also mention frenching. Now frenching refers to the process of removing most of the side meat from the ribs, leaving nice clean arcs of bone exposed, and really just the rib eye meat intact. Now this is one job you can definitely have your butcher do. I prefer to do it at home. Weíll get to that in a few minutes.
Domestic Chine On
Oh, by the way, New Zealand lamb which is range-raised on nice yummy grass, has
become the kind of lamb standard for the world, with Australian lamb a close
second. A lot of Americans like this meat because it is mild and tender.
Personally, I prefer American lamb. Not just because it isnít frozen and shipped
from the other side of the planet, but because they usually come to market a
little bit older, and that means more flavor and bigger racks.
Now, speaking of American lamb, the U.S.D.A. ...
USDA #1: ... inspects all lamb found in retail stores or overseas state inspection agencies with equal or higher standards. Grading is a voluntary process paid for by the packer or processor. Grades range from prime to choice, good, utility and cull, the last of which are used primarily for processed meats and pet food.
I was going to bring up the fact that American lambs are commonly treated with a
synthetic hormone which speeds their weight gain. Such drugs have fallen under
scrutiny lately, something about breast cancer.
USDA #1: Thatís not our agency, Monkey Boy.
I see. If youíre worried about such things, you might want to keep an eye out for hormone-free lamb. If your market doesnít carry it, simply ask your butcher or look on the internet. Plenty of it there.
Unlike beef and pork, no culture or religion bans the consumption of lamb.
Regardless of the final intended culinary destination, usually when we deal with
whole racks of lamb they need to be ďfrenchedĒ. That is, they need to have the
rib ends trimmed out. Of course, the procedure named after a fussy bunch of
European gastronomes, who I imagine probably invented the process. Anyway, it is
not as hard as it looks. And with just a little bit of practice, youíll be able
to do it in maybe three to four minutes per rack.
So, here is the procedure. This, as we can tell by looking at it, is American lamb, because itís got a good bit of this fat intact. [referring to the surface fat] New Zealand lamb, since it has to be shipped long distances, they like to cut this off first in order to make it lighter for shipping. This needs to come off. Odds are it can be done by hand. You just have to work your thumb into that connective tissue and peel it back. You can break out your knife, if you need to, near the end. Now believe it or not, there is a good bit of meat left on this that would be good for stewing. So donít get rid of this [fat], okay?
Next, we remove this kind of crescent of cartilage that attaches to the shoulder bone. It has no culinary use at all, so we discard. Now flip over and make a sideways cut all the way across the rack about two and a half inches down from the end of the ribs. And poke the blade all the way through in between each of the ribs. Then just take the point of your knife, and split the membrane on the back side of the ribs. Then continue your horizontal cut on the other side, and flip again.
Now we actually cut out the little fingers of meat in between each of the ribs. If you made your cuts right on both sides to prep, this will be easy going. These are also pieces you might want to save for that stew we were talking about. Notice that Iím actually moving the rib across the knife, instead of moving the knife. I kind of anchor it on the board, and then pull the meat across it. Flip over, do any clean up work that you need to.
Now obviously we need to clean up these ribs. So, I have just a handle pull that I got at a hardware store and a loop of heavy cotton string. And just kind of put that over the bone down to the end of the cut, twist a couple of times, and then youíll pull all that nasty stuff right off of the bones. This is the actual frenching part. Make sure you do this with the ribs curving upward so that the force of the pull wonít be working against you. There.
Now, since I like my lamb a little more lamby than most, Iím going to leave the rest of this fat. If you donít like that lamby-ness, you can always trim it off.
[at the refrigerator] Now, while we construct some flavor augmentation, we need to keep these chilled. And Iíd rather have them open so they can dry a little more. That would certainly help us later on down the line. Of course, we canít put raw meat uncovered up here with all these ready-to-eat items, right? That wouldnít do. So look around. Find yourself a nice tight space where youíre not going to do any damage, and in they go.
Now as for flavors we can bring to the party, I suggest some Dijon mustard, some herbs, thyme; a little rosemary will serve us well. And [spots a snack] this sandwich ... looks good. Ahem.
[now grinding some spices at the counter] Now I am not about to suggest that rack of lamb isnít plenty delicious. But if we can add just a few humble ingredients and turn the old flavor knob up to 11, then I say, why not? Thatís why I have ground one and a half teaspoons of coriander seeds with half a teaspoon of black pepper, and one teaspoon of kosher salt. Which I am working into a paste, with six minced cloves of garlic and four teaspoons, chopped, of that fresh thyme we just got out of the fridge.
1Ĺ tsp. Coriander Seeds +
Ĺ tsp. Black Pepper +
1 tsp. Kosher Salt
6 Minced Cloves Garlic +
With paste in hand, we have everything that we need to move into the tying phase. Oh, except for string. Youíre going to need plenty of butcherís twine and I always ... make sure... [holds up the last 2 feet of his bobbin of string] Oh, bother.
GUEST: String Monger
SS: Good afternoon, Sir. How may I help you?
AB: I need some string.
SS: Oh, do you now? And how do you know you donít need cord or rope or thread or twine?
AB: Well, I figured that thread was too small, that rope was too big, and that twine would ...
SS: Twine! Comes from the Middle Dutch twijn [pron: TWI-jah] which means to twist together. Therefore, Sir, twine is composed of at least two separate yarns twisted together for strength.
"Twine" from Dutch twijn for "twist".
AB: Okay, like this? [picks up a sample]
SS: Dah! Thatís cord, Sir! Woven or braided, NEVER TWISTED!
Cord: Woven or
AB: Okay, you certainly do seem to know your fibers.
SS: Oh, thank you, Sir, yes I do. Did you know, Sir, that rope and twine were the tools that allowed man to rule this planet?
AB: I always figured that was fire.
SS: Bah! Fire! Fire gets all the credit Ďcause itís bright and scary. "Oh, Prometheus, please help me, I canít barbeque my wings." But you would never last a day in the wild, Sir, without a hank to hold.
AB: A hank?
SS: Yes, Sir, the hank. A looped bundle of cord. Itís right there. Oh ho ho ho.
Hank: A bundle of cord.
AB: Itís very nice.
SS: Now what is it youíd like to tie, Sir?
AB: Uh, meat.
SS: Meat? Oh, well, butcher twine then, yes. Well, that rules out hemp or sisal or jute, because theyíll all leave fibers in your food. You wouldnít like that, Sir. Now most chefs go with either a polyester or a poly blend but I donít like it Ďcause itís so floppy, Sir. And it unraveled. You see how it unraveled like that?
AB: Yes, I do. It unraveled.
SS: Yes, yes. But your true artists go with cotton or linen. There you go. Because you see, Sir, it is significantly stiffer.
AB: Well, this stuff looks a heck of a lot stiffer even that that.
SS: Yeah, it would. Do you know why it does that, Sir?
SS: WAX! Thatís why! Itíd be like having a candle for supper. You wouldnít like that, would you, Sir?
SS: Didnít think so. Right. Now hereís what you want, linen. Itís natural, itís heat resistant, and itís hypoallergenic.
Linen: Natural, heat resistant & hypoallergenic
SS: And youíre going to need this, Sir.
AB: Itís a flowerpot.
SS: Oh, itís a flowerpot, is it? Here, give me that. [threads the twine through the hole at the bottom of the upside down flowerpot and places it on the pot's dish] Flowerpot, flowerpot, monkey, monkey through the hole! Doodle-ee-doo. Whatíd you do? You pulled out too much string didnít you? There we go.
AB: Ha ha. Oh, thatís clever. Itís a string dispenser.
SS: Get out!
The worldís largest ball of sisal twine (over 50 yrs old & still growing)
weighs almost 9 tons & resides in Cawker, Kansas.
I find that when Iím doing a lot of butcher twine work, the best place for the
twine is actually on the floor, between my feet.
We have everything together now, including our racks. You know, Iím thinking about cookbooks. Iíve read hundreds of recipes for crown roast. And every single one of them says, ďhave your butcher put it together for you.Ē And Iím thinking, "well, yeah, because getting this into a crown shape isnít exactly a natural thing to do." What we need is a template or a mold of some type that ... Wait a second.
[looks through the kitchen cabinets] Ohh, letís see. No. No. No. Nothing. [spots his Bundt pan] Hello, pretty. America, meet the Bundt pan, our version of the European Kugelhopf pan. It just became a roast beast accessory. Welcome to the world of multitaskers. Hah hah hah hah.
Time to crown a new king. [ties the end bones of each of the two racks together] You donít want this to be very tight, so donít break out any fancy knots. Just a standard old square, or even a granny knot will do. [folds it over and ties the two other end bones together making a circular or crown shape] Now we donít need a knot here, but we do want this to stay together, so wrap that two, maybe three times, and just pull snug.
Now if thereís a tricky part to this, and Iím not saying there is, but if there is, itís this part. [wraps the remaining twine around the base of the crown roast and mounts it in the bundt pan] Three times around. And if you just kind of hold the rib ends, you ought to be able to get around. You want this to be relatively snug, but again, not tight. And one more knot. There, thatíll hold everything together. But luckily, weíve got the pan doing most of the work.
Now a little lubrication with olive oil. Just kind of rub that in. And thatís going to help the paste to stick [referring to the spices that were ground earlier], because thereís not a lot of moisture in this. Just kind of put it on your hand and pack it on the sides. Donít go up where the ribs are. Stick down where the meat is. There. Just kind of pack it on. And turn the pan. Save at least a tablespoon to go right down the middle. Not the middle of the bundt pan, that is, but around the inside of the roast.
|1 Tbs. Olive Oil|
[at the refrigerator] At this point, you could securely cover your roast with,
say, a zip top bag, and refrigerate for up to two full days. You could even keep
it up here because itís relatively well contained. Or, of course, you can go
ahead and cook it.
Now traditionally, this would be the time that we would be considering a stuffing of some type, but it ...
T: [holds a sign ďSTUFFING IS EVILĒ]
Actually, we have proven that stuffing doesnít necessarily have to issue forth from the bottomless pit. But in this case, it would throw off the cooking of the meat. And that would indeed be evil.
[at the oven] Slide this into the middle of a 375-degree oven for approximately 10 minutes per pound. However, a probe-style thermometer set to notify you at 130 degrees, is the best way to protect your meaty investment.
Why? Because unlike, say, a standing beef rib roast which contains a fair amount of intramuscular fat, which can lubricate the meat, even if you were to cook out most of the moisture, lamb racks lack such fatty reinforcements, at least internally speaking. So, thermal control is absolutely crucial. 130 degrees, you hear?
USDA #1: [enters with #1 & #2] The United States Department of Agriculture of Food Safety and Inspection Service recommends whole lamb cuts, such as loin, shoulders, legs, and racks to be cooked to a minimum internal temperature of 145 degrees Fahrenheit, to ensure that any possible food-borne pathogens have been eliminated.
Okay, those of you who do everything your government says, go ahead, toast your roast. Me? Iím pulling it at 130. [gives the inspectors a ďraspberryĒ]
If knots arenít your thing, try leaning the racks together,
interlocking the rib bones. This is called ďguard of honorĒ.
[a thermometer alarm beeps] That sounds means that itís time to extract our roast, 130 degrees. Now you are going to be tempted, very tempted, to cut right into this. Fight that urge. This needs to rest for at least 20 minutes covered either with foil or with, say, another bowl. Why the resting? Well, allow me to quote myself from episode one:
[from Steak Your Claim, Scene 10] A steak or any piece of meat is kind of like this kettle. And when youíre cooking it, youíve got heat pushing on the tissues, forcing juice into the steak. Now if you were to poke into it or cut it, at this point, the heat would just push the juices out onto the plate and youíd be left with, well, a nasty little dried piece of meat floating on a pool of juice, which isnít so nice. By resting the meat, well, itís like turning the heat off of this kettle, although not as fast. You take it away from the heat, you give the pressure of heat time to recede, and the juices redistribute through the meat. What could have been a piece of leather is now a juicy steak.
[referring to his younger visage] So much hair, so few chins. Letís make a sauce.
The goodness left in this pan is what the French would call fond, which means foundation. And thatís exactly what weíre going to do. Use it as a foundation for a sauce by adding, weíll say, a teaspoon of chopped fresh rosemary, a teaspoon and a half of sherry vinegar, and for flavor and also to help emulsify the sauce, a teaspoon of Dijon. Thatís French, of course. Whisk to combine and serve as you will.
1 tsp. Chopped Fresh
1Ĺ tsp. Sherry Vinegar
1 tsp. Dijon Mustard
Vinegar & mustard amounts will vary based on your jus.
Although I do believe it is a bad idea to cook a crown roast with stuffing
inside, it is a good idea to bring it to table with stuffing inside. Now here
Iím just going with a simple rice pilaf. But you could stuff this with roast
vegetables, mashed potatoes, I even saw a Middle Eastern version once with
couscous on the inside. If you put the stuffing in right as the meat comes out
of the oven, youíll have the added benefit of being able to soak up some of
those lovely juices.
Now before we serve, of course, we need to remove the outer string, unless you want everybody to get some floss with their meal. Now this is where the benefit of the linen string pays off, because it doesnít cook into the meat as easily as cotton string does. Just work your way around. If you find that itís too difficult to get in here, you may do this with scissors or shears. Just make sure that you get every bit off. And it should come quite easily. Gracious.
T: [appears with a tray to take away the string]
AB: Ha ha, thank you very much.
Now, carving. Since there are an even number of ribs, I usually serve an even
number. And remember, youíre going to have to kind of jibe around that chine
bone a little bit here at the end if itís in place. Just feel around for it and
cut through. Thatís what Iím talking about.
Well, I certainly hope weíve inspired you to take a stab at this royal victual. Sure, itís spendy, and it takes a bit of energy, attention to prepare. But the dividend paid on your investment will be a capital gain, indeed. See you again soon on Good Eats. And next time, do wear a jacket, wonít you?
Transcribed by Michael Roberts
Proofread by Michael Menninger
Last Edited on 08/27/2010