Hazelnut Cumin Orange Crusted Rack of Lamb (Paleo)

I went through a phase of not eating lamb. I was ten or eleven years old, and had spent the summer chasing my Grandmother's lambs around the farm. The still had tails. They always seemed happy. I named them all. My appetite for anything lamb was spoiled for years. 

Thank goodness that phase is over--these hazelnut crusted lamb ribs aren't just elegant and rustic; they're rich, tender and marbled, and good in that way that only meat on the bone can be. Meat on the bone is just extra somehow, with more flavor than boneless cuts. 

Racks of lamb are particularly good because they are simply stunning. They stand up of their own, casting long shadows on the table and calling for a bite. And since we eat with our eyes, they steal the show in every way possible. Toasted hazelnuts provide a crunch crust to this rack of lamb, and fresh orange zest keep it bright tasting. 

Since this rack was a bit "blue" when I sliced it, I laid each rib individually on the cooking pan, and returned them to the oven under the broiler. After no more than a minute, they were sizzling on the outside. 

While racks of lamb are usually a Christmas or Easter dish, this pairing of hazelnut, orange and cumin makes it feel like a perfect dish for the new year: winter citrus, warm nuts, a cumin zest. Served with garlic roasted carrots and rosemary garlic cauliflower mashers, this makes a filling meal perfect for entertaining or just eating on a night in! 

Hazelnut Cumin Orange Crusted Rack of Lamb

1 pound rack of lamb

3 tablespoons coconut oil, at room temperature

1 tablespoon avocado oil

1/4 cup hazelnuts

5 garlic cloves

zest of 3 oranges

1 tablespoon cumin

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

 

1. Pre heat the oven to 450°F. Remove the silverskin from the lamb (the thin layer of white over the bone side of the meat). Trim off extra fat. 

2. In a food processor, combine the garlic, hazelnuts, orange zest, salt, pepper, cumin, and avocado oil. Pulse until a course meal forms. 

3. Use your hands to rub the rack of lamb with the coconut oil. Press the hazelnut mixture onto the meat in an even layer. 

4. Lay the lamb meat-side down on a cooking pan. Bake for 20-30 minutes, until a meat themometer inserted into the middle reads 145°F for medium-rare, or 170°F for well done. 

5. Remove the meat from the oven, and allow to rest for 10 minutes before slicing and serving. 

 

Garlic Roasted Carrots:

5 large carrots

2 cloves garlic

Salt & pepper to taste

1 tablespoon avocado oil

 

1. Preheat the oven to 450°F. 

2. Mince the garlic. Chop the carrots into evenly sized pieces. Toss the carrots and garlic with the oil, salt, and pepper. Spread into an even layer in a baking dish.

3. Cook for 30-40 minutes, until carrots are tender all the way through and golden on the edges.

 

Rosemary Garlic Cauliflower Mashers

1 pound cauliflower florets

1 teaspoon garlic, minced and sautéed until golden

1 teaspoon coconut oil

2 tablespoons coconut milk

1 teaspoon rosemary

Salt & pepper to taste

 

1. Steam the cauliflower until tender. 

2. Add cooked cauliflower, garlic, oil, milk, and rosemary to a blender. Puree until smooth. Add salt and pepper to taste.

3. Serve warm.

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Paleo Pork Ragu with Grain-Free Garlic Bread

This Sunday, it snowed. It snowed the big soft flakes that float in the air for longer than normal. The world was a flurry of white before it melted away (not long after touching the warmer ground), and the chill in the air seemed to make everyone pull their slow cookers out of storage. No really--we had a potluck and the counter was lined with slow cookers! 

This pork shoulder, slow cooked in a savory tomato sauce spiced with fennel, oregano, thyme, and bay leaf was actually Oliver's dish. But it was so perfect for the snowy weather, and paired so well with my dish--the garlic bread- that I have to post them both! Hours before dinner started, the entire house was smelling like spicy marinara and garlic bread, and with grumbling tummies we refrained from starting without our guests (it was hard!). 

Have you tried making anything out of yuca root? Until a few months ago I had only eaten it steamed. Who knew that are only a bit of mashing transformed yuca into a pizza dough-like goop, that's sticky and get this--even tossable, so you can work on your pizza dough throwing skills!  Once the dough is ready, I just brush on some garlic-infused avocado oil and pop it in the oven. 

Do you know what I had forgotten? How glorious it is to dip a chunk of bread into a brothy, savory stew, lapping up the last drops like it's your job. 

Now, before you run away, thinking all paleo "breads" have way to many ingredients for me, just hear this one out. The bread technically only has three (yes THREE) ingredients. Are you ready for this one? 

 

Pork Ragu

1-1/2 pound boneless pork shoulder, trimmed

1 tablespoon coconut oil

1 small white onion

4 cloves garlic

1/4 cup dry red wine

2 large carrots

1 24-ounce can diced tomatoes

1 cup bone broth

1 tablespoon fennel seed

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon rosemary

1 teaspoon thyme

1 teaspoon oregano

Black pepper to taste

1 bay leaf

 

1. Slice the onions, and sauté with the coconut oil in the bottom of a large pan. Mince the garlic and add it to the pan. 

2. Add the pork shoulder, and brown each side. Once the onions are starting to turn brown and the pork is browned, add the wine. Allow to simmer off. 

3. Transfer everything to your slow cooker. Add the bay leaf. Grind the other spices, adding them in, along with the tomatoes, salt, and broth. 

4. Dice the carrots, and add them. Give everything a final stir and cover the pot. Cook on low for 6 to 8 hours, until pork is tender and comes apart when pulled with a fork. Serve hot. 

 

Grain-Free Garlic Bread

2 pounds yuca root (also called cassava)

3 tablespoons coconut flour

2 tablespoons coconut milk (canned, full fat, unsweetened)

For topping: 

1/4 cup avocado oil

4 garlic cloves

1/2 teaspoon salt

 

If you're new to yuca, you may want to watch this video to see how this process goes. 

1. Shuck the yuca. Chop off the hard ends and cut off the thick, waxy peel. Chop the root into small pieces. I generally do 3 inch long sticks that are about 3/4 of an inch thick.

2. Steam the yuca until soft. I use the pressure cooker, and cook them for 13 minutes. It's possible to do this on the stove top (boil the root instead of steaming it) but takes much longer). Test with a fork to ensure the root is tender-- otherwise, keep cooking! 

3. Remove the yuca from the pot. Place in a blender or KitchenAid stand mixer along with coconut flour and milk. I have found that the Yuca will actually burn out my blender rather quickly (it's think and sticky), and that the stand mixer does a better job, however, your blender may be different. (In some countries where yuca is a traditional dish, they just mash it by hand). 

4. Preheat oven to 350°F. 

5. Once the mash has turned into a smooth, even and gooey batter, use a spatula and scoop the dough into a pile on a baking sheet liner with parchment paper (or a silicon mat). Allow to cool long enough that it can be handled. Using your fingers, pull out the tough fibers bits (there's usually one or two dense fiber strings). If the dough is exceptionally sticky you have two options: allow it to cool more, or work coconut flour into the dough and grease up your hands with avocado oil.

6. Once the dough is smooth and workable, shape it into a pizza crust. Ensure that the dough is even. 

7. In a blender, combine garlic, salt and avocado oil. Pulse until garlic is well minced. Use a brush to spread this oil over the yuca dough. Pot the whole thing in the oven and bake for 30 - 40 minutes, until the dough is crispy and the top is golden. Slice into breadsticks and serve warm. 

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