Sunday, December 26, 2010

Christmas Dinner 2010: Rack of Lamb, Goat Cheese Mashed Potatoes, and Cheese Stuffed Mushrooms

These recipes were the highlights from our Christmas dinner. These are all new recipes I tried for the first time and LOVED! This menu could also be used for Easter with the addition of a few spring vegetables. For dessert we had Russian Cream.

This first recipe was from the Today Show. I modified it a bit because my family likes their meat a little more on the well done side so I roasted the racks for 5 extra minutes then after cutting the racks seared each piece for 1 minute on each side in a cast iron skillet. Everyone loved it!

Rack of Lamb with Pimenton, Garlic and Olive Oil

Mark Bittman
  • 1 rack of lamb (about 2 pounds)
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 tablespoon smoked paprika (pimentón)
  • 1 medium slice rye bread, broken into pieces
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1. Heat the oven to 450° F. Trim the lamb of excess fat, but leave a layer of fat over the meat. Cut about halfway down the bones between the chops; this allows the meat between them to become crisp.
2. Put the oil, garlic, paprika and a sprinkle of salt and pepper in a food processor and purée; add the bread and pulse a few times to make rough crumbs. Rub this mixture over the meat side of the rack and sprinkle with more salt and pepper. Put it in a roasting pan and put in the oven; roast for 18 to 20 minutes and insert an instant-read meat thermometer straight in from one end into the meatiest part. If it reads 125° F or more, remove the lamb immediately. If it reads less, put the lamb back for 5 minutes, no more. Remove and let sit for 5 minutes. Serve, separating the ribs by cutting down straight through them.
Always trim the excess fat and roast at extremely high heat.
If you get really good quality lamb, all you really need for flavoring is salt and pepper.
If you've only eaten rack of lamb in restaurants, you've probably been served a whole rack, six to eight ribs, but I find even a small rack will serve three or four people if you have sides to go with it.
If you're entertaining and cooking for more — cook two racks at a time; they will fit side by side in most roasting pans. (I cut each rack in half before roasting, which makes for slightly more uniform cooking and relieves the busy host from having to separate the individual servings at the last minute.)
I cut most of the way down between the ribs so that more meat is exposed to intense heat and therefore becomes crisp. (Frenching the ribs, or scraping the meat off the bones to make them look neater, is counterproductive; the crisp meat on the bones is one of the joys of rack of lamb).
Serving Size
Makes: 4 servings; Time: 30 minutes

This recipe was from a local news cast that we changed a bit. The original recipe called for garlic and herb goat cheese but I used plain and thought that the garlic and herb cheese would have been too much for the recipe to handle. This complimented the lamb very nicely. 
Garlic Goat Cheese Mashed Potatoes
  • 10 Yukon Gold or 5 medium baking potatoes, peeled and cut into large chunks
  • 4 garlic cloves, finely diced
  • 1½ cups sour cream
  • 1 cup milk or cream
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 1 (3 ½ oz.) package of goat cheese
  • Salt and Pepper, generous portion (1 1/2 tsp of salt and 3/4 tsp pepper)

In a large pot, cover the potatoes with cold water, add salt and boil until soft. Drain and place the potatoes back in the same pot. Add the next 6 ingredients (reserving 1/2 the milk or cream). Mix together with a hand mixer for 5 minutes or until it becomes a creamy texture and there are no lumps (or a hand masher). Add the remaining milk or cream while mixing. (Note: Add additional milk or cream, if needed to help puree.) Add the butter and cheese. Mix through until melted. Taste; add additional salt and pepper, if needed. Serve immediately.

These mushrooms were served as one of the appetizers. I loved them because instead of wasting the stems they are incorporated into the dish making it meatless. They don't taste as healthy as they are and were a big hit. I wish I would have made more because they went quick!
Cheese-Stuffed Mushrooms
  • 24 Servings
  • Prep: 25 min. Bake: 15 min.


  • 24 medium fresh mushrooms
  • Butter-flavored cooking spray
  • 3 tablespoons chopped shallot
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1/2 cup white wine or Reduced-Sodium Chicken Broth
  • 1/4 cup plus 6 tablespoons shredded reduced-fat Swiss cheese, divided
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 3 tablespoons dry bread crumbs
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons fat-free milk
  • 2 tablespoons dried parsley flakes
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried tarragon
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper


  • Remove stems from mushrooms and finely chop. Place caps on a foil-lined baking sheet; spritz with cooking spray. Set aside.
  • In a small skillet, saute the shallots and chopped mushrooms in oil until tender. Stir in wine; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered, for 10-12 minutes or until liquid is absorbed. Remove from the heat.
  • Stir in 1/4 cup Swiss cheese, Parmesan cheese, bread crumbs, milk, parsley, tarragon, salt and pepper. Spoon into reserved mushroom caps. Sprinkle with remaining cheese and spritz with cooking spray.
  • Bake at 375° for 15-20 minutes or until mushrooms are tender and cheese is melted. Yield: 2 dozen.
Nutrition Facts: 1 stuffed mushroom equals 26 calories, 1 g fat (trace saturated fat), 2 mg cholesterol, 54 mg sodium, 2 g carbohydrate, trace fiber, 2 g protein.

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