End-of-summer grilling spectaculars: Part 3
Sometimes when you grill, you simply want to pull out all of the stops and serve your guests something that is really spectacular in terms of quality ingredients, preparation, flavor and presentation. And what better occasion could there be than your last big grilled meal of the summer?
When it comes to the main ingredient, that spectacular main course should feature something you simply don't grill every day. Now is not the time for plain old burgers or sausages, chicken breasts or even rib-eye steaks. When I really want to impress my guests, I'll grill whole racks of lamb, which I then carve into individual chops just before serving. Now, that's something sure to open people's eyes with happy surprise!
As for the preparation, virtually every step of my recipe for Catalonian Fire-Roasted Lamb Rack With Romesco Sauce aims to deliver big flavor. First, you'll marinate the lamb for several hours in a spicy mixture of chiles, shallots, garlic and fresh lime juice. Meanwhile, you'll also make the classic Basque sauce, which is based on roasted chiles, tomatoes, garlic, shallots and spices, pureed and thickened with roasted almonds. The result is so delicious and satisfying, you'll be tempted to eat it by the spoonful as if it were a soup. But, needless to say, it makes a wonderful companion to the tender, succulent lamb meat.
Cooking that meat to perfection calls for the grilling method known as indirect-heat cooking. All you have to do is build a fire in half of your grill's fire bed -- which, depending on the kind of grill you have, may require you to turn on just half of the gas elements; or pile, set fire to, and eventually spread the white-hot charcoals on just one side. To give the lamb a flavorful, beautifully browned surface, first sear it directly over the heat; then, move it to the portion of the cooking grid away from the heat source, and cover the grill, so that the meat can continue to cook to the desired degree of doneness without its surface burning.
With the meat perfectly, flavorfully cooked in this way, the final step in making this dish spectacular comes through presentation. After resting to let their hot juices settle back into the meat, the lamb racks are cut into individual chops that are then placed on top of pools of the thick, red Romesco sauce -- which makes a beautiful complement to the rosy-pink meat and its deep brown exterior. As you and your guests cut into the meat, every bite with be bathed in the flavorful mixture.
Your mouth may be watering by now as you read this. Mine certainly is as I write it! But just imagine how good it will taste when you turn this spectacular grilled recipe into your own backyard reality.
CATALONIAN FIRE-ROASTED LAMB RACK WITH ROMESCO SAUCE
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil