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Texas Style Chile-Honey Lamb with Fixin’s

Cascarones and rack of lamb make for very Texas Easter.

Cascarones (confetti eggs) and rack of lamb make for a very Texas Easter.

While most of America happily dyes and hides eggs in quaint backyards for children in adorable pastel church clothes, Texas does Easter a bit different.  Sure, we dye and hide eggs, but then the celebration gets a little more chaotic.  Someone decided a long time ago that hiding and finding eggs was just too passé.  Why don’t we fill emptied eggs with tons of confetti, then smash them on people’s heads?  What better way to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus can there be?

Oh ya. Come to mama.

Oh ya. Come to mama.

Much like cascarones (confetti eggs), a rub is Texas’ answer to the boring dish of lamb with mint jelly.  There’s no way Texans are passing mint jelly around the Easter table.  We love heat and lamb is an excellent foil for an earthy, spicy rub.  But man cannot live on lamb alone, so I included a delicately sweet parsnip purée and some peas quickly sautéed in brown butter.

Texas Style Chile-Honey Lamb with Parsnip Purée and Brown Butter Peas

Servings: 6-8    Prep Time: 1 hour    Cook Time: Combined 1 hour 15 minutes    Total Time:  2 hours 15 minutes


Chile-Honey Lamb

2      racks of lamb, dried then generously salted and peppered  (trimmed to 1/8 inch fat, silverskin removed)*
2      Tbsp ground ancho chile powder
1      tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp fresh ground black pepper
1/8 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp ground cayenne pepper (optional)
1/4 cup mesquite honey (clover honey is fine)
2      Tbsp balsamic vinegar
1      Tbsp canola oil

Parsnip Purée

1      lb parsnips, peeled, halved and cut into 2 inch pieces
3/4 cup half and half
2    Tbsp unsalted butter

Brown Butter Peas

1     shallot, minced
1     tsp fresh minced thyme (do not substitute with dried thyme)
2     Tbsp unsalted butter
3     cups frozen peas (do not thaw)

Instructions (in order of when you should start):

Parsnip Purée

  1. Place the cut parsnips in a Dutch oven or rondeau.  Fill to cold water to one inch above the parsnips.  Bring to a boil.
  2. Boil until the parsnips yield easily to a fork.  About 15-25 minutes.
  3. Drain in a colander and immediately add to a blender or food processor along with the butter and 1/2 cup of the half and half.
  4. Blend until smooth.  The consistency should be a little thinner than whipped cream cheese.  If the mixture is too thick, at more of the half and half.

Chile-Honey Lamb

  1. Place a roasting pan or jellyroll pan in the oven.  Move the oven rack to the lower-middle level.  Preheat oven to 425°.
  2. Mix dry ingredients together and toast in a dry 12 inch skillet over medium-high heat.  About 30 seconds.  Put in bowl to the side.
  3. In the now empty skillet, heat the canola oil over medium-high heat until shimmering.   Place the lamb racks, fat side down until well browned.  5-7 minutes.  Flip and brown the other side, about 3-5 minutes.  Now place the racks with bones intertwined, so you can brown the very bottom of the meat, about 3 minutes.
  4. Pull skillet off the heat and brush all over the meat with half of the marinade.  Working quickly, place each rack fat side down in the roasting pan and return to the oven.
  5. After 6 minutes, pull the racks out and rebaste with the rest of the marinade.  Return to oven for another 6 minutes.
  6. At a total time of 12 minutes, test with a meat thermometer to see that the lamb has reached 135°.  If not, then continue roasting another 3 minutes.
  7. When the roasting is completed, immediately pull the racks out of the oven and tent with foil.  Let rest for 10 minutes.
  8. Once the lamb has rested, slice just after every bone.  You should have 6-8 individual ribs per rack.

Brown Butter Peas

  1. Melt the butter in a 12 inch skillet (non-stick or regular) over medium-high heat.  Watch and swirl almost constantly and as soon as the milk solids turn a golden brown and you smell a nutty aroma, add the shallots and minced thyme.
  2. Continue to cook on medium-high heat until the shallots have softened and the edges turn translucent.
  3. Add the frozen peas.  Cover with a lid and cook, stirring once or twice until the peas are warm, about 5 minutes.

*I like to leave the silverskin on because it helps keep the lamb from tearing or falling apart.  Totally a personal preference.

Happy cooking!

Eiswein and Maple Poached Pears Wrapped in Prosciutto

Not all holiday appetizers have to be overly rich.

Not all holiday appetizers have to be overly rich.

One of my favorite dishes during the holidays is poached pears.  It’s a super simple and elegant dish to serve guests.  And prosciutto will always be a win with anyone.  If one of your friends doesn’t like prosciutto, time to replace them with a better, more tasteful friend.

Salty, sweet and classy.

Blow the socks off your guests at your next holiday cocktail party.

Eiswein and Maple Poached Pears Wrapped in Prosciutto

Servings  45-55    Prep Time: 1 hour 30 minutes    Cook Time: 20 minutes    Total Time: 2 hours


Poaching Liquid:

2/3   cup eiswein
1        cup water
1/2   cup maple syrup
1        cinnamon stick
2        whole cloves
6        ripe Bartlett pears, peeled, halved and cored


1 lb  prosciutto (sliced extra thin)
1       bunch of watercress with small leaves


  1. In a large Dutch oven or soup pot combine the eiswein, sugar, water, cinnamon stick, and cloves.  Bring to a boil over high heat.
  2. Reduce the heat so that the poaching liquid can be at a medium simmer.  Add the pears and the maple syrup and bring back to a simmer.  If needed, adjust the heat so that it stays at a gentle simmer.  Simmer for 20 minutes until the pears are tender.  Once tender, lay them out in a jelly roll pan to cool.
  3. Bring the poaching liquid to a boil, about 45 minutes.
  4. While the poaching liquid is reducing, carefully dry off each pear half with a paper towel.
  5. Cut each pear half into 3 or 4 wedges keeping the pieces as equal as possible.
  6. Once you have cut the pears, roll each pear in one slice of prosciutto and with one or to sprigs of watercress.
  7. The poaching liquid should reduce to 1/3 or less of its original amount.  Once it has cooled to room temperature, pour over the prosciutto wrapped pears.

Notes about this recipe: The pears can be poached the day before.  Make sure that you store the pears in the unreduced poaching liquid in the refrigerator.  If your prosciutto is really wide, cut each strip in half lengthwise.

This recipe is adapted from Frank Dodd’s Maple Pears and Prosciutto.  His recipe can be found here: Maple Pears and Prosciutto

Happy Holidays!

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