Roast Rack of Lamb With Saffron Potatoes Candied Eggplant and Pickled Onion

Serves 6 to 8

For the Lamb
3 lamb racks (8 bones per rack), preferably Colorado lamb, trimmed of fat and frenched
4 cloves garlic, lightly crushed
1 ½ teaspoons Dijon mustard
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
2 tablespoons butter
2 sprigs fresh rosemary

For the Pickled Onions
2 small red onions, about 8 ounces each, thinly sliced
½ cup white wine vinegar
¼ cup unseasoned rice wine vinegar
1 dried bay leaf
6 juniper berries

For the eggplant
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 plum tomatoes, blanched, peeled, seeded and chopped
1 large Italian eggplant, about 1 pound, diced
Pinch of ground cardamom
Pinch of ground turmeric
Pinch of ground cinnamon
Pinch of ground cumin
Pinch of cayenne
Pinch of paprika
2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
¼ cup honey
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley

For the saffron potatoes
2 quarts chicken stock
1 ½ teaspoons saffron threads
Salt and freshly ground white pepper to taste
2 pounds Red Bliss potatoes, peeled

To prepare the onions: Place the onions in a nonreactive bowl. Pour the white wine vinegar and rice wine vinegar into a saucepan, add ¾ cup of water, and bring to a boil. Pour the liquid into the bowl containing the onions and add the bay leaf and juniper berries. Cover with plastic wrap, let cool to room temperature, and refrigerate overnight.

To prepare the eggplant: Pour the olive oil into a skillet and set over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot and shimmering, add the garlic and sauté for 1 minute. Add the tomatoes and sauté for 2 minutes longer. Add the eggplant and spices, and sauté for 3 minutes longer. Add the vinegar, honey, salt and pepper, and simmer gently until the eggplant is tender, 2 to 3 minutes longer. Stir in the parsley, remove the mixture from the heat and let cool.

To prepare the potatoes: Place the stock, saffron, salt and pepper in a large saucepan, set over medium heat, and bring to a simmer. Cut the potatoes into wedges (quarter them if the potatoes are small, or cut into sixths if they are large) and add to the stock. Return to a simmer and cook until fork tender, 20 to 22 minutes. Drain the potatoes and serve.

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

To prepare the lamb: Rub the lamb racks vigorously with the crushed garlic. Evenly rub the Dijon mustard over the lamb and season with salt and pepper. Place the butter in a large skillet and set over medium-high heat. When the butter stops crackling, add the lamb racks and the rosemary sprigs to the skillet. Sear the lamb on both sides while basting with the butter, about 10 minutes; maintain an even temperature so the meat browns but the butter does not burn.

Transfer the seared racks to a large roasting pan and roast in the oven until the internal temperature reaches 130°F, 12 to 15 minutes; begin checking the temperature after about 10 minutes. Remove the meat from the oven and let it rest 8 to 10 minutes before serving.

To serve: Slice each lamb rack into 8 even chops and serve 3 or 4 chops on each serving plate. Place a serving of potatoes, eggplant and pickled onions on each plate.

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