Recipe Match: Savory Herb-Crusted Roast Saddle of Lamb
California’s Bacchus Group of fine restaurants, which include two Wine Spectator Grand Award winners, shares this dinner-party recipe
Woodside, Calif., a small town about 30 miles south of San Francisco, may not have the national marquee restaurant names of bigger cities, but it is well-known among food and wine lovers.
Woodside is home to Wine Spectator Grand Award winner the Village Pub, which opened in 2001 and was the first restaurant from the Bacchus Management Group. Nearby are the group’s Village Bakery and Selby’s. In San Francisco is the company’s Grand Award–winning Spruce, home to some 2,500 wine selections and a 15,000-bottle inventory. All told, Bacchus has over a half-dozen restaurants from Mill Valley to San Jose.
The Bacchus properties exude the easy charm and sophistication of the West Coast’s best restaurants. The venues are comfortable and the service warm, but the food embodies a friendly yet cosmopolitan version of California cuisine. Some of the dishes are disarmingly simple. “The food that I do has a rusticity, but it’s still elegant. It’s really ingredient-focused,” says executive chef Mark Sullivan, who oversees the cuisine for Bacchus’ restaurants.
Here Sullivan shares a lamb recipe from a spring menu. “For the traditional version, I sear the lamb on a rack at 450° F for 30 minutes, then take the roasting rack with the lamb on top and put it over Potatoes Boulangère (recipe below), so that the rack is resting on the sides of the pan and not directly on the potatoes,” he explains. “Then I put it all in the oven. The lamb drippings enrich the potatoes and give them meaty lusciousness.”
Andrew Green, president of fine dining, recommends pairing this meal with a Bordeaux red. “A lot of my food-and-wine pairing is just closing your eyes and thinking about the classics. Lamb and Bordeaux is as classic as it gets.”
- 1 boneless whole saddle of lamb, about 5 pounds (tenderloins included)
- 1 cup Dijon mustard
- ¼ cup lavender honey
- 2 cups minced herbs (½ cup savory, ½ cup parsley, ¼ cup thyme, ¼ cup chives, ¼ cup tarragon, ¼ cup chervil)
- 4 ounces garlic cloves, triple-blanched
- Salt, to taste
- Coarsely ground black pepper, to taste
- Vegetable oil
1. Place the lamb on a cutting board and trim any excess fat and silver skin. Mix the Dijon mustard and the lavender honey, then brush the mixture liberally inside the lamb saddle, reserving ⅓ of the honey mustard for later use. Season the inside of the lamb saddle liberally with salt and coarse black pepper. Sprinkle the lamb all over with the minced garlic and 2/3 of the minced herbs, setting aside the rest.
2. Roll the lamb saddle into a cylinder and tie with butcher’s twine every 2 inches to ensure a uniform roast (if there is an overlap when rolled, trim off any excess).
3. Sauté the roast over medium-high heat for 15 to 20 minutes, turning occasionally so it caramelizes nicely on all sides. Roast in a convection oven at 275° F (or 300° F in a conventional oven) for 35 to 40 minutes, or until the lamb reaches an internal temperature of 120° F. Let the cooked roast rest for 30 minutes in a warm environment.
4. Just prior to slicing, brush the exterior of the roast with the remaining honey mustard. Roll the lamb in the remaining herbs, ensuring it’s uniformly coated. Slice the roast into ½-inch-thick rounds and serve with the Citrus-Olive Jus (see recipe below).
- 3 cups beef or lamb broth, reduced to 1 ½ cups
- ½ cup mandarin orange juice, reduced to ¼ cup
- 2 tablespoons Banyuls vinegar
- ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
- ⅓ cup mandarin orange segments, cut into thirds
- ¼ cup oil-cured black olives, soaked for 30 minutes in cold water, rinsed, patted dry
Warm the broth to a simmer. Whisk in the mandarin orange juice, vinegar and olive oil. Add the olives and orange segments. Season with salt, to taste.
Slow-Cooked Yukon Gold Potatoes Boulangère
- 6 ounces guanciale or pancetta, finely ground with ⅛-inch die or diced small by hand
- 8 yellow onions, diced small
- 2 tablespoons fresh garlic, grated
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 1 bunch thyme, bruised and tied
- 1 cup Sherry
- 3 ½ cups veal or chicken stock
- 3 ¼ pounds Yukon Gold potatoes
- 2 teaspoons thyme leaves, minced
- 1 bunch chives, minced
1. Render the guanciale (or pancetta) in a large, heavy-bottomed pan on medium heat, about 5 minutes. Add the diced onions, grated garlic, bunch of thyme and salt. Continue cooking until the onions are tender, about 30 minutes. Add the Sherry and reduce to a glaze. Add the stock and simmer for 15 minutes. Reserve the mixture for later use.
2. Slice the potatoes 1-inch thick. Place the cut potatoes in a single layer in a lightly greased, 2-inch-deep, full-sized roasting pan. Spoon the reserved guanciale mixture over the potatoes, so that the onions lie on top of the potatoes and the stock covers three-quarters of the potatoes.
3. Cook the potatoes in a convection oven at 275° F (or 300° F in a conventional oven) for 90 minutes, or until tender, glazing the potatoes every 15 minutes with the stock and onions. When finished, the potatoes will be deeply caramelized, with hints of char. Broil briefly if necessary to achieve desired color.
4. Prior to serving, garnish the potatoes with the minced chives and thyme. Serves 8.