James Dickinson photo
In this still-struggling economy, restaurants are looking for new ways to reach customers. Some are opening earlier to offer breakfast or adding a dinner hour. Sensi Restaurant (2222 E. Cary St., 648 3463) recently announced another option for budget-conscious consumers — frozen dinners to heat up and serve at home. For $24, a family of five can dine on lasagna, baked spaghetti, penne vodka, or eggplant or chicken parmigiana. "We figured it would be a good offering for people and a good source of revenue for the restaurant," says Paolo Randazzo, Sensi's co-owner and head chef. For those who want to do their own cooking, Randazzo shares a dish that has been a holiday tradition in his home for many years.
Crown Rack of Lamb with Vegetable "Frittata"
- F or the Lamb Racks: Rub lamb racks with salt, pepper and rosemary. Heat a skillet on the stove until it's very hot. Add enough frying oil to cover the bottom, then sear lamb racks one by one on both sides until a nice golden crust appears, then let them rest.
- For the Frittata: Place thinly sliced shallots and bacon or prosciutto in a saucepan with 2 tablespoons of olive oil, artichokes and diced potatoes. Allow the vegetables to sear, but don't stir too much. Season with salt and pepper, then set aside. In a mixing bowl, place vegetables, eggs, thyme and breadcrumbs. Stir lightly.
- To Assemble: With a knife, cut into the lamb racks about 1 inch between every bone. Use kitchen twine to help tie the racks of lamb upright so that both ends meet, bones facing upward. Fill the center of the racks with the vegetable mixture and place the racks in a roasting pan. Preheat the oven to its highest setting, usually between 450 and 500 degrees. Drizzle olive oil on the racks and sprinkle with a bit more salt. Roast the racks 20 minutes for medium rare. After roasting, cut the twine, remove, and allow racks to rest for 10 minutes. A good, simple sauce to serve on the side is made from one part aged balsamic vinegar to three parts olive oil and seasoned with fresh chopped rosemary, thyme, a bit of brown sugar, salt and pepper. (Note: The racks can be prepared the day before and refrigerated, then brought to room temperature and roasted 30 minutes before serving.) Serves six.
- 6 12-ounce racks of lamb
- 1/3 cup of chopped fresh rosemary
- A few sprigs of fresh thyme
- 2 whole fresh artichokes or 1 package of frozen artichokes
- 4 whole shallots
- 1/2 cup of olive oil
- 6 slices of prosciutto or fresh cured bacon (can be omitted)
- 3 cups of diced and boiled tender Idaho potatoes
- 3 whole eggs
- 1/2 cup of plain breadcrumbs
- 1 cup of frying oil
- Coarse salt and ground pepper to taste
- Kitchen twine