Sometimes it takes a master chef to finesse an already flawless pairing. Case in point: Geoffrey Zakarian of Dream South Beach's Tudor House restaurant. Zakarian takes the classic spring pairing of lamb chops and puréed peas and accents the duo with a rough-textured hazelnut gremolata. The lemon zest, fresh garlic and parsley in the gremolata play off the lamb's richness; the hazelnut shards counter the creaminess of the Technicolor-green peas. A shining example of how a classic can rock.
Rack of Lamb with Hazelnut Gremolata and Pea Purée
Recipe adapted from Geoffrey Zakarian and Jamie DeRosa, Tudor House, Miami, FL
Yield: Serves 4
Cook Time: 35 minutes
Lamb and Gremolata
Two 6-rib racks of lamb, Frenched
Freshly ground black pepper
⅓ cup skinned hazelnuts
2 tablespoons finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
2 teaspoons lemon zest
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
3 cups (about 1 pound) fresh or frozen peas
⅓ cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons kosher salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1. Make the lamb: Preheat the oven to 350°. Pat the lamb dry with paper towels and season with salt and pepper. Set aside at room temperature while you make the gremolata.
2. Place the hazelnuts on a rimmed sheet pan and toast in the oven until golden brown, 6 to 8 minutes. Transfer the hazelnuts to a plate to cool, then roughly chop. In a small bowl, mix the toasted hazelnuts with the parsley, lemon zest, garlic and ¼ teaspoon salt and set aside.
3. In a large grill pan or oven-safe skillet set over medium-high heat, heat the olive oil. Sear the lamb in the pan until golden brown on each side, about 5 minutes per side. Transfer the pan to the oven and cook until an instant-read thermometer reads 120° for medium-rare, 8 to 10 minutes longer. Remove from the oven, cover loosely with foil and let the lamb rest for 10 minutes.
4. Make the peas: Prepare an ice-water bath and set it on a work surface. In a medium saucepan of boiling, salted water, blanch the peas until they are just tender, 1 to 2 minutes. Strain the peas through a fine-mesh sieve and plunge them into the ice water to stop the cooking. Dry the peas on a kitchen towel and then transfer to a food processor. Add the olive oil, salt and pepper and purée until smooth.
5. Carve the lamb into individual chops and divide the pea purée and lamb chops among 4 plates. Top with the hazelnut gremolata and serve.