Brad Smoliak likes to delve into his own personal backyard of memories to inspire his dishes.
For this Backyard BBQ recipe of grilled rack of lamb, the Edmonton chef tapped into his Ukrainian roots as well as his previous travels in Greece, where the robust-flavoured meat is a regular staple.
“People always seem to roast lamb, so this is a little bit of a different method and makes for a great presentation for when you’re hanging out and your family can watch you do it,” says Smoliak, who teaches cooking classes, develops recipes, offers take-out meals, and hosts special events at his culinary studio, Kitchen By Brad.
Lamb isn’t a particularly tricky protein to barbecue, but make sure to keep some fat on the cut before you start grilling.
“Lamb can be quite lean and the fat keeps moisture in, acts as flavouring and is kind of an insulator against the heat,” he says. “You can always cut the fat off after. You don’t have to eat it—there are always dogs looking for snacks.”
Look for lamb at your local butchers—Smoliak recommends Acme Meat Market in Edmonton. Other suppliers include: Messinger Meats in Red Deer, and Urban Butcher and TK Ranch in Calgary.
GRILLED RACK OF LAMB UKRAINIAN STYLE
With pomegranate molasses mint sauce and blistered tomatoes
2 trimmed (leave some fat on) lamb racks rubbed with:
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary
1 tablespoon fresh oregano
1 tablespoon fenugreek leaves
2 smashed garlic cloves
3 tablespoons olive oil
Marinate at least 4 hours or overnight if possible in refrigerator.
Put in large Ziploc bag and refrigerate.
Take out of the fridge an hour before grilling to take chill off.
Season with Ukrainian salt. (See below for ingredients and instructions to make your own,)
Pre-heat grill to medium low heat.
Grill racks fat-side down approximately 7 minutes and turn over. Watch for flare ups. Grill until internal temperature reaches 130 degrees. (Should take about 30 minutes.)
Remove from heat and rest for at least 10 minutes.
Slice between bones to serve. Two racks easily serves 4 people.
POMEGRANATE MOLASSES MINT SAUCE
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 (packed) cup fresh mint
1 cup water
1/4 cup vinegar red or white
1/4 teaspoon salt
Simmer for 15 minutes.
Strain mint out and add 2 tablespoons of pomegranate molasses.
Add 1 tablespoon of fresh chopped mint before serving.
Finish everything with a drizzle of good olive oil and a hefty sprinkle of Maldon sea salt.
Add two cups of random small tomatoes (of your choice) to a cast-iron pan.
Place on the grill on high heat and move the pan around for approximately five minutes. It doesn’t take long to get some nice blisters on these. Do not cook these in advance as they deflate and lose their juices quickly.
2 tablespoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon fenugreek leaves
½ teaspoon red chili flakes
1 teaspoon chopped garlic
Place all dried spices in spice grinder, grind to a fine powder.
Add garlic, pulse in food processor, and store in air-tight container.
Note: Fenugreek is popular in Eastern European food as well as Indian curries. The smell is grassy and the flavour is reminiscent of maple and celery. Available at local spice shops, including The Silk Road Spice Merchant in Edmonton. (You can also get fresh fenugreek micro-greens at Thistle Hill Farms in Lacombe.)