Chocolate is an essential part of any Valentine's meal, so why not surprise your dinner companion by using it in this savory dish? A roasted lamb rack is perfect for two, and the chocolate enriches the pan juices, making the perfect sauce to accompany it.
This recipe shows how you can use chocolate to enrich a sauce. Cold butter is often whisked into pan juices to create a sauce, but here, the chocolate thickens and adds a touch of bitterness, as does the black pepper. This works well with the lamb, but you can use it with other pan-fried meats, such as a rack of venison. You don't need very much chocolate — just enough to slightly thicken the pan juices. I rarely suggest wine matches, but an Australian Shiraz is very good with this.
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The contrast of the rich sauce with the gamey flavor of the lamb was out-of-this-world good! The chocolate doesn't overpower, but turns everything into a complex, mole-like sauce. I only added 1/2 teaspoon of the black pepper into the sauce and really liked that amount — it definitely added a kick, but wasn't overpowering. I would suggest you do the same since you can always add more pepper after you taste it.
- Christine, February 2015
Lamb with Dark Chocolate Pepper Sauce
1 1/2-pound lamb rack (700 grams, 8 ribs), frenched
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup (250 ml) lamb stock, preferably homemade (or use low-sodium beef stock)
1/2 ounce (15 grams) chocolate (70 percent), chopped
Remove the lamb rack from the refrigerator 30 minutes before cooking and allow it to come to room temperature. Preheat the oven to 450°F (230°C).
Pat the lamb rack dry and season with salt and pepper. In an ovenproof frying pan just large enough to hold the rack, heat the oil over high heat and brown the lamb on the fat side and the base. Then place the pan in the oven and roast for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the internal temperature registers 135°F (57°C) on an instant-read thermometer. Remove the pan from the oven. Transfer the lamb to a plate and let the rack rest, loosely covered with aluminum foil.
Meanwhile, remembering that the handle will be very hot, discard the fat from the pan, add the stock, and bring to a boil, deglazing the pan by scraping up the browned bits from the bottom. Continue to cook for 8 minutes, or until reduced to about 1/3 cup (75 ml). Meanwhile, coarsely grind 1 teaspoon of black pepper; add it to the sauce with the chocolate, stirring until melted. Check the seasoning.
Slice the lamb into individual or double chops and serve with the sauce.
Reprinted with permission from Bitter: A Taste of the World’s Most Dangerous Flavor, with Recipes by Jennifer McLagan, copyright © 2014. Published by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of Random House LLC.