Ramps and Lamb – Spring on a Plate


The Slow Food Saratoga Region chapter of Slow Food USA had a wonderful pot luck dinner yesterday at the extraordinary  American Masala Farm, owned by Suvir Saran and Charlie Burd in beautiful, bucolic Washington County. There was plenty of excellent food, demonstrating the fabulous produce of the area. I made roast leg of lamb with ramps. Individually and together they are one of the many wewlcome signs of spring.

I purchased both the lamb and the ramps at the Saratoga Springs Farmers Market. The lamb came from Elihu Farm and the ramps from Sheldon Farm. I asked for and received a number of good suggestions for the ramps via this blog, facebook and Twitter. I chose to go with one that would feature the natural flavor of the ramps while also complementing and not competing with the lamb, which was strongly flavored.

John Nicholson wrote on facebook:

"I like to blanch them, roast them on a 1/2 sheet at 450 with sea salt and olive oil. Finish them with balsamic vinegar. Candy."

This is precisely what I did, though I roasted them at 425ºF in a convection oven. He was right. Drizzled with some 25yo balsamico tradizionale di Modena from Acetaia del Cristo, they were indeed candy.

I marinated the lamb overnight in a rub of my own making after an inspiration from the restaurant Arzak, where I first tasted lamb with coffee as a component of the dish. My ingredients for the rub:

  • garlic 14gr
  • beet salt 20gr
  • coffee beans 12 gr
  • VEA coffee oil 34gr
  • Keshmiri chili powder 22gr
  • black peppercorns 4gr

The beet salt was kosher salt that I had used as a base for roasting beets. The beets added a nice, subtle sweetness to the salt. Regular kosher salt should work just fine though. I'm not sure that given the addition of coffee beans, that the VEA coffee olive oil was necessary, but I had it and used it. I would expect regular, good quality olive oil would be perfectly acceptable. All the ingredients were blended together in a Vita-Mix blender than rubbed liberally on to the meat. At this point the meat can be roasted using any method favored by the cook. I cooked mine in a CVap oven for 3 hours at 125ºF then finished it in a 475ºF convection oven to get a nice external sear. I kept an eye on the meat to prevent too much sear. The result was a complex, slightly spicey roast leg of lamb that marrie wwell with the simply prepared ramps.

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5 Responses to Ramps and Lamb – Spring on a Plate

  1. Marco says:

    The lamb rub looks like a winner. I’ll have to try coffee in a rub on lamb chops. What is a good substitute for Keshmiri chili powder? I have many different kinds of chilis including Indian. Thanks.

  2. John Sconzo says:

    Thanks, Marco. Keshmiri chili is a chili used in India primarily because of the bright red color it tends to give food. It is moderately spicy and can be substituted for by any chili that you like. Ancho chili would be one that I might try.

  3. Marco says:

    Thanks, Doc. I’ll let you know how the chops come out.

  4. Marco says:

    The chops were great. I used Liquid Assets’ Fred’s Head Blend for the coffee. Fred’s Italian espresso is next on lamb. For the chilis, I used Ancho and Cascabel. Thanks for the rub recipe. Wine was a Quinta da Roriz Reserva 2003.

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