Za’atar is a wonderful and aromatic spice blend in Middle Eastern cuisine that vary by region but frequently is made up of toasted white sesame seeds, ground sumac, thyme and salt. Succulent lamb chops get a zesty punch with this fragrant seasoning while pairing well with the sweet tartness of the sour cherry demi-glace.
1-1/2 to 2 pounds lamb rack (about 12 bones), trimmed french-style of excess fat
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 tablespoon za'atar spice, your favorite blend
1 teaspoon lemon zest, fresh, very finely minced or grated
1 tablespoon parsley leaves only, finely minced
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 quart lamb (or beef if lamb is not available) stock, store bought
1 quart red wine
1 fresh bay leaf
1 sprig fresh thyme
1 sprig fresh rosemary
1 sprig fresh lemongrass
1 sprig fresh tarragon
1 teaspoon black peppercorns
1 teaspoon coriander seeds
¼ cup sour cherries, dried and pitted
½ cup orange juice
1 teaspoon orange zest, minced fine
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 pinch ground cinnamon ground
½ teaspoon ground cumin ground
1 pinch ground cayenne pepper
2 tablespoon tomato paste
¼ cup brown sugar
3 tablespoon unsalted butter, cubed
Directions for Sauce:
1. In a sauce pan, combine the stock, wine, orange juice, bay leaves, herbs, peppercorns and coriander seeds.
2. Heat to a medium simmer and allow liquid to reduce by half.
3. Remove from heat and finely strain.
4. Return to a low simmer and add tomato paste, orange zest, sour cherries, nutmeg, cinnamon, brown sugar, cumin and cayenne. Whisk to incorporate.
5. Continue to simmer until rich (thicker than soup, thinner than gravy) and light, even spoon-coating is reached.
6. Remove from heat and mount butter into sauce.
7. Keep warm and reserve for lamb rack.
(Add a couple of tablespoons of water to sauce to loosen, if needed.)
Directions for Lamb Rack:
1. Preheat convection oven to 375°F, high fan.
2. Combine salt, black pepper, zaatar, lemon zest, parsley and oil together. Mix well to form a paste.
3. Pat dry lamb of any excess moisture.
4. Liberally, rub or brush spice paste over entire rack until gone.
5. Place lamb rack on lightly oiled roasting pan and place in preheated oven for 15 minutes or until medium rare (150-155°F, internal temperature).
6. Remove from oven and carefully baste lamb with any excess juices on the bottom of the roasting pan.
7. Allow lamb to rest for 5 minutes.
8. Slice lamb into chops along each bone, in 2-bone sections.
9. Arrange on your favorite platter or large plate and liberally spoon sour cherry sauce over the lamb sections.
10. Garnish with orange zest and fresh herbs.