Thursday, June 26, 2008

Double Rib Lamb Chops with Cassoulet of Summer Beans and Rosemary

Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you an artistic rendering of my experience in making this dish:

My friend, Jen's, son "Skeeter" (like Prince, Cher, and Madonna before him, he wants his artistic name to be singular) drew this picture for the blog: that's me, and my dog, Jake, having a bit of a hurl; the lamb chops are blue and emitting blue and black rays of death; and, my face is undeniably green upon having smelled the lamb chops when I opened the package. For the record, I did not actually throw up, but it was close.

Here's the deal: I bought my lamb chops from my local Whole Foods, brought them home, and the next day when I opened them? They smelled bad... really bad... almost WORSE THAN TRIPE bad. They were yellow and green, and made my eyes water with their badness.

I'd only bought them the day before, and this particular Whole Foods does really good meat, so I got on the phone immediately with the store and talked to my buddy, Larry, who runs the meat department there. He told me to throw those chops in the trash and get my arse over there pronto so he could take care of it. Not only did he refund my original purchase, he hand-cut new rib chops himself from a fresh rack that had been delivered that morning, and didn't charge me for them.

Yet another benefit of getting to know your vendors, folks. I'm positive this store would've handled it right, regardless (they've always been great to deal with in my experience), but I felt taken care of, and that was a nice boost, considering the stench nearly burned my corneas completely off my eyes. And, for those of you who might ask, yes, they conducted a full inspection to find out what caused it, but I don't know what the end result was. I've bought other meat there since then, and everything's been great. I am relatively certain this was a fluke, and they handled the situation above and beyond my exepctations and better than my previous experiences with other food vendors. So, yay for Whole Foods. Say what you will about them (and people DO have their opinions), they get a check-plus in the customer service column on this one. Thanks, Larry.

Now, on to the dish. This post will be on the shorter side, because there aren't that many steps to making this dish, which means *AHEM* that maybe some of you might want to try making this yourselves. I did one short-cut, which I rarely, if ever, do with these dishes, but taking the lamb situation into account, I thought it was the right thing to do. More on that later.

Let's start with the beans. I bought and soaked some dried marrow beans and adzuki beans overnight, then put them into separate pots for cooking. Each pot got some chicken stock, water, leek, carrot and onion, and then I brought it to a simmer, skimming off the junk that rose to the top:

I simmered them for about an hour, when they were tender. I let them cool off while in their cooking liquid, and I prepared the other beans -- blanched green beans (double the amount the recipe calls for because I couldn't find yellow wax beans), fava beans, and soybeans.

It's at this point that I realized I'm supposed to mix the beans in the lamb quick sauce that I'd also just made. However, even though the lamb bones I used for the sauce came from another source, I was feeling superstitious and weirded out by the rancid chops, so I threw away the lamb quick sauce and instead reduced 2 C of veal stock until there was about 1/3 cup left and it was thicker and almost glaze-like.

I drained the marrow beans and adzuki beans and mixed them into the reduced veal stock, then added the other beans I'd just blanched. To that, I added tomato diamonds, brunoise, and salt and pepper and kept it warm on the stovetop while I cooked the lamb:

Now that the beans were done, it's time for the lamb chops. Here they are, in their fresh, non-rancid glory:

I put them in the skillet with a little canola oil and cooked them over medium-high heat for 4 minutes to brown them. I turned them and cooked them for another 3 minutes, then turned them on their sides to brown the edges, as well:

I removed them from the pan, drained the oil, added butter to the pan, and returned the chops to the melted butter. I topped the lamb chops with garlic and thyme, basted them with a bit of the melted butter, and put them in a 375-degree oven for 5 minutes:

I took them out of the oven and allowed them to rest for a few minutes while I got the plates ready. First in the dish were the beans, then I topped them with a lamb chop:

I have to say, that even though I'm sure this would've been great with the lamb quick sauce, and that it was very likely the lamb sauce would've been fine from a quality and non-rottenness perspective, the reduced veal stock was a great substitute... and I had no reservations whatsoever about it. It gave the beans a hearty, creamy quality, and bolstered the lamb-ness of the lamb. The beans were absolutely delicious, and the lamb was so tender and perfect, and almost as creamy as the beans.

If you have The French Laundry Cookbook, you may notice that I skipped the step about adding the rosemary and the rosemary oil. That's because I hate rosemary. I don't know it this is the same for my fellow cilantro loathers, but rosemary has a similar effect as cilantro does on my palate. Eating even one little leaf of it is like chewing on a giant Christmas tree and it makes everything taste and smell like one of those taxicab air fresheners. So, I avoid it whenever and wherever I can. Rosemary wasn't always this way for me, but when my food allergies shifted a year or so ago, the rosemary thing came in full force, so no rosemary for me, or my guests. No one seemed to miss it, and no one uttered the words, "Wow, Carol... this dish really sucks... if only you'd added some rosemary maybe I could stomach it." Not even close. In fact, it was so good, after we finished the beans, we gnawed whatever last morsels of meat we could get off the bone. Classy all the way.

Special Note: We've only got a few months left of French Laundry at Home, and you'll notice I've done a Q&A with Michael Ruhlman and my fishmonger, and there will be others to come (particularly, Susie Heller, and my favorite farmer). However, I thought it also might be fun to do a Q&A with me. Actually, a few of you have suggested it in recent emails, and after thinking about it, I agree. So, feel free to use the comments section or send me an email with any questions you may have -- food-related, non-food-related, whatever -- just wanted to give you guys an opportunity to ask me whatever it is you might want to know. I'll answer your questions in a "Q&A with Carol" post in a few weeks.

Up Next: French Laundry at Home Extra: Q&A with Susie Heller

Lamb and produce from Whole Foods
Dried beans from TPSS Co-op
Thyme from my garden

Music to Cook By: Roxy Music; Avalon and OMD; Crush. This summer, more than any other, has made me nostalgic for the music of my teenage years... especially when I cook. When I'm in the car, I want new music, but when I'm at home, I crave the old stuff. I still have the worn out cassette tape that had each of these albums on one side. Of course, I have the MP3s now on iTunes, but I'm keeping the tape because I remember the day my friend, Molly, and I made those tapes, taping from one tape deck to another, releasing the pause button on one deck and pressing record on the other and trying to time it perfectly. Man, I'm old. Don't even get me started about how we used to hold a casette tape recorder up to the speakers on my record player to make tapes that way. I'm downright jurassic with that crap.

Read My Previous Post: "Banana Split" -- Poached-Banana Ice Cream with White Chocolate-Banana Crèpes and Chocolate Sauce


Unknown said...

OK, so I've been reading your comments for the past year or so on Ruhlman's blog, and recently got a job where yours isn't blocked. (Why it was before I have no idea.) I've been incredibly impressed with what you've undertaken and how well you've managed to do it...the cooking, yes, but even more so your way of describing the experience.

And then, to find out that you're in the fair state of MD, as are my wife and when you having us over for dinner? ;)


Anonymous said...


As President of the Rosemary League, I am shocked that you would omit rosemary oil, which sounds delightful. I demand you retract... oh, never mind.

Seriously, did you consider trying "thyme oil" or something else in replace of it? Not to pick nits, but one of the issues people have with some of the recipes is the number of sub parts to some of them and you basically skipped one. A substitution is one thing. Unavailability of an ingredient, a particularly expensive piece of specialized equipment, or a food allergy (or aversion) are valid reasons to alter the recipe, completely omiting an element seems, well, like an incomplete attempt.

Just my .02.

Anonymous said...

I am laughing so hard the artist rendition...I can't get over it. Love it.

Anonymous said...

Damn, Carol; just think of all of the money you're going to make in a few years when that sweet little kid is a famous artiste.

Oh God, mix tapes. Many a night I spent next to the radio with my boombox (remember those, kids?) praying that I wouldn't screw up during the commercial and miss the beginning of the latest and greatest 80s smash hit. Soft Cell comes to mind.....

Anonymous said...

When recipes turn out badly, what do you do with the food? Do you have a dog?

Seattle WA

*Sharon* said...

My question would be - how do you find to do everything? Work, cook, blog? I think your writing is fantastic and would like to know how you fit everything into one 24 hour day?

Anonymous said...

Hi Carol - I'll have to email you a scan of my then 5-year old niece's rendition of me and my wife (then girlfriend) when we were first dating; Skeeter would be so proud...

And, I recently splurged after iPod number 1 died on a new iPod and an mp3 turntable; yes, now I can put my 7" (snerk) version of "Bad Boys" by Wham! as well as "Cool Places" by Sparks with Jane god, I'm old too...

Oh, lovely food, as always!

Anonymous said...

Q: What is the best ingredient/technique/recipe you've discovered since starting this blog?

Q: What is your second favorite pig part?

Q: How is it possible to rock so hard and have a blog that is still fun and amusing week after week? Are you magic?

Chris said...

As always, I am inspired to continue to cook and write after reading one of your post.
So damn funny...

My question is: What has been the total food cost to blog the entire book? And what single ingredient/animal part made the biggest dent in your pay check?

Unknown said...


You Rock. You have inspired me to get TFL cookbook and make some of these more complicated dishes.

here are some of my questions for you:

1. What kind of cook were you before you tackled TFL cookbook? Did you debone, fillet, etc. before or just as part of the experience?

2. What is it that you most love about cooking?

3. If you could make a last meal (i know from serious eats that there is a cookbook about it), what would it be?



pdxblogmommy said...

I have a question or two...

1. If you had to show someone the way to the Metro, in which direction would you point them?

2. If you had to choose, would you marry Paul Young or the lead singer of that band 1040? Or Manoosh?

3. If you can make CDs out of mixed tapes, can I send you my Eddie Bruno tapes?

4. Did you realize Nik Kershaw is like 5 feet tall?

5. When did you abandon the Kraft Blue Box for the TFLC Mac and Cheese?

And I'm with Spoonie on the taping from my favorite radio station. 99X FM in NY. Man, those were the days....

Anonymous said...

I love the artist's "blue chops"! It seems like there should be a fun kid-friendly recipe somewhere with that name attached to it. :-)

Unknown said...

I'm usually in the "no rosemary" camp, but to fill my herb pots last year I bought a creeping rosemary, and loved it. This year, I also got a regular rosemary plant, and I hate it, but I still love my creeping rosemary.

And it is sad that it's likely within the next few years, kids won't know what "mix tape" even means....

Anonymous said...

What will you blog about after you've finished "French Laundry?"

Anonymous said...

I still listen to Roxy Music but all of my mix tapes have disappeared in overseas moves. Lovely dish, the lamb.

Anonymous said...

Awesome dish. I want to make that summer bean "cassoulet" this weekend. Boy do I love beans!! So, I've got a question: What's up with your love of Bloomberg?

I have a bizzaro love of Mario Cuomo, so I totally understand, but that's my question, and I can't wait for the answer!

Anonymous said...

Q: With your obvious love of music, which 5-10 albums do you think FLaH fans should have on their iPods?

Love the blog!

Anonymous said...

Q: What's your favorite culinary guilty pleasure?

Q: Do you have a favorite cuisine?

Q: Time to spill your secret... what's your favorite hole-in-the-wall food establishment in the DC area?

Anonymous said...

Q: I have TFLC, but have been too intimidated to actually make anything out of it. I've been following your blog since last year though, and think I've finally worked up the nerve to actually give it a shot - so what dishes would you recommend I start with? (I know you sometimes mention "this would be a great first dish to try" in your posts, but it'd be great to have a full list available!)

I'll be sad when you finish all the dishes! Love your writing, your photos - thank you so much! Hope the pilot went well and we'll be seeing more of you soon...

Anonymous said...

So I was happy and sad at the same time to hear that you are almost done with the FLC. Happy for you since this means that you will have accomplished an amazing feat, but sad that there will be no more weekly FLC posts. So 5 big gold stars to you Carol.

Okay so I am a total Roxy Music die hard and STILL have it on vinyl and will only listen to it on vinyl at home to take me down memory lane. I so remember cursing myself for missing the beginning of a song on the radio and screwing up my mix tape.

On to my questions:
1. Going on the last meal question which band would you have play? Dead or alive. Who would you invite to dine with you?
1. Michael Bloomberg 2.?

2. What is your favorite junk food guilty pleasure? I'm talkin' real junk like Crispy Creme Donut, blue box mac n' cheese junk.

3. How has cooking from the FLC changed your approach to cooking and aside from learning new techniques how has it made you a better cook?

4. Did you have huge 80's permed hair and acid washed jeans to go with your fine music selection?

Lastly, I so think that TK should invite you out to the FL and do a VIP meal for you. If anyone deserves it its you!

Claire Uncorked said...

Skeeter is too cool. That picture slayed me, & now my coworkers think I'm a loon.

Anonymous said...

Oh gosh yes: Jennifer is so right. We ALL demand it. What better way to finish TFLC than a full report of dinner with Keller? Can we start a movement? ...Then on to the Bouchon cookbook!

Anonymous said...

Thank you for you geting the pikser on the bloge. I love you. The yuky kooking lade eats poop.

Anna Banana said...

I'm hoping you're planning something big to celebrate your final FL cooking experience. Something like flying to Oakland where Ms. Shuna Lydon will take you on a tasting tour of the east bay and Keller will dine with you at FL and many photos will be posted. This is the kind of thing you make happen for other people. This time make it happen for you.

Anonymous said...

Question: Maybe I've missed it on your blog, but do you have plans to turn the blog into a book ala "Julie and Julia"?

As for the rosemary issue, I agree, not a huge fan. How about oregano oil? I'm Greek and we always season our lamb with oregano.

Anonymous said...

Having followed your culinary adventures for some time I, as many, are sad to see the experience soon come to a close. In that light, I hope that you have gotten an invitation to dine with TK at FL to celebrate this achievement as well as your special upcoming birthday.
By the way, love the music pairings and I too remember mixing via the radio.

Anonymous said...

First of all, this just looks YUM. Secondly, your choice of music and your memory of making tapes is ddead-on - I can't even count how many times I did that (with the same music, too.) Now when I cook or clean or whatever, I always put on the "retro-active" music channel (translation - 80's alternative/modern rock) for all my time-travel needs. :)

Can't wait for the next post!


Alice Q. Foodie said...

I am totally with you on the rosemary thing - I can't STAND the stuff - it's like kryptonite to me. I rarely meet anyone else who feels the same way though!

Chris Tillman said...

Are you going to give watermelon lipstick, etc., a shot when Keller's new book comes out?

Rosie Hawthorne said...

First, you don't like softshells.
Now rosemary!
I swear, Carol. Imonna hafta turn you around.

I overcame my disgust with blue cheese. And cilantro too, even though everyone said it was a genetic disposition to like or dislike cilantro. I love both now.

Have you thought about therapy?

Reebs said...

Q: What kind of camera are you using to take your food shots? (You've probably answered this one, sorry for not paying attention.)

Colleen said...

I've loved following along on your "adventure" - never posted a comment before. I wonder what will you be cooking and eating when this is through? Surely some of the FL recipes, but what else? What are you favorite "go-to" cookbooks? Who else's cooking do you admire? We all now admire YOURS!

David said...

cute kid pic!

um...I think...
; )

Unknown said...

Count me in on the can't stand cilantro or rosemary club. Love Skeeter's illustration!

Beques said...

1. Are you pro- or anti- silicone kitchen accessories? (Hot pads, baking cups, pop-out colanders, etc.)

2. What kind of knives are you brandishing in the FLAH kitchen?

3. Who did you think was hotter, Andy or Paul in OMD?

4. What's your culinary holy grail (besides cooking thru TFL)? A food item, a dinner cooked by someone, a piece of equipment?

5. What's your take on Bourdain and Ramsay?

6. Would you ever consider a similar undertaking like this again? Cooking your way through an El Bulli volume, perhaps? (Although you need a lab, not a kitchen, for that)

7. What was your biggest fear throughout this whole FLAH blog project?

8. What's your ONE best piece of advice to anyone looking to cook on the FL level?

9. What's the latest on the TV deal?

10. What part of this project did you love the most; and hate the most?

Thanks for any consideration of these questions! I LOVE the blog and hope to see/hear loads more!

The Mouse said...

Okay, here are the questions that at least one inquiring mind would like to know:

1) How does one score an invitation to taste the fruits of your labor, and are there any requirements for this essential position?

2) What made you pick the French Laundry cookbook out of all the other tomes out there?

2) If someone offered you the chance to make a fabulous living cooking or writing, which one would you choose?

and by the way, i used to think the cilantro thing was determined by genetics but somewhere along the way i went from detesting it and thinking it tasted like fresh dirt, to not being able to get enough of it. i could eat it by the handful. so i'm not sure what to make of that. my mother still hates it.

jgunnink said...

It was fun for a while
There was no way of knowing
Like dream in the night
Who can say where we´re going
No care in the world
Maybe I´m learning
Why the sea on the tide
Has no way of turning
More than this - there is nothing
More than this - tell me one thing
More than this - there is nothing

Jeff said...

Can you do the Michael Richard's "Happy in the Kitchen at Home" next?

It would be cool to see someone work through that book, which I absolutely love.

Brooke said...

Beautiful post. Amazing art. Great photos...What more could a food blog reader ask for!


Anonymous said...

Q1: Do you think you'll ever cook any of the recipes from FLC again once the project is over? Which ones?

Q2: Have you had any "worlds colliding" crossover between this blog and your DC career, or are all your clients/colleagues unaware of your secret culinary talents?

Anonymous said...

i had the same experience with lamb once, but in my case it was a leg of lamb. i wonder if lamb is particularly susceptible to spoilage more so than other meats. i dunno. but what i do know is, i have not gotten up the cajones to purchase another leg of lamb since and it's been YEARS!

schweim-diesel said...

This is, quite simply, the greatest blog ever. Sometimes, I don't know what I look forward to more - the recipe recaps or the music selections. I can picture a meticulously dressed Bryan Ferry dining on lamb chops as I right this...

Anonymous said...

Yes, this IS the best blog ever. Carol, thank you so much for your comments on rosemary. It's always nice to know on is not alone in hating a herb. My questions:

Your 40th birthday is less than 2 monhs away. Do you have your reservation?

Have you had any contact with Chef Keller about FLAH?

Are you considering continuing a cooking blog or is it a case of when it's over it's over?

Are you working on a book deal?

What's happened with the demo tape?

Would you consider selling copies of the entire tape to us?

Have you stayed off TWoP because of the demo tape?

Thanks, Carol.

Anonymous said...

I am so sad to see you go after just finding your cool blog!
I hope that you will take on another culinary project to share with the foodie world out here!

What would be your last supper?

Take care

amber said...

i think everyone already asked some great questions here. excited to see all the answers in an upcoming post.

cilantro tastes the way i'd imagine a bar of soap would taste, but so far, rosemary and i are still pals. even w/o the herb, the dish still looks fab :)

Anonymous said...

My local Whole Foods sells only New Zealand lamb, which I find consistently strong and unpleasant tasting, compared to good American and European lamb. Do other Whole Foods stock a wider variety of lamb?

Karen said...

MMmmmm...Avalon. I still have my vinyl, too, although it's probably worn through its grooves.


1) How large a complement of pots and pans do you have? The NYTimes and food bloggers love to write articles about how few items a well-functioning kitchen needs, but you often have so many pots going at once. So what ARE your cupboards filled with?

2) What is the complete list of things you can't stand to eat? (My biggest one is celery--blech.)

3) What IS the deal with Bloomberg? I'm a New Yorker, and I admit he has his charms, but I'm not quite getting the devotion.

4) How much of what you've been doing has Keller actually been following himself?

5) Do you have any idea how much we love you?

Anonymous said...

Do you agree with Ruhlman that veal stock is THE fundamental a home cook should implement in their kitchen? Is it really that much better than chicken stock?

Anonymous said...

I hate rosemary, but like cilantro, so you can add that to your data bank and smoke it, or something.

A remark on lamb chops:

I recently discovered that there's this funny law in the good ol' USA that means if you want to sell meat across state lines you need a way expensive license, but if you want to sell dairy products, such as cheese, across state lines the license is cheap. Now if you run a sheep farm and make sheep cheese, you have to have lambs or you don't get milk. But if you don't want to go into the meat business in a big way, what you do is you have the excess lambs (the boys, mostly) slaughtered and you sell them locally, at farmer's markets, where you don't need that expensive license. So you can get amazingly good and often very cheap spring lamb, usually frozen solid, at farmer's markets in mid- to late summer. My experience is that you will pay at most $15 for a rack, and often less, but it will not be Frenched, so you have to do that yourself. And then, of course, you have trimmings to make quick sauces from. Just something to look for. The big dealers can't sell this stuff, because of the licensing, but you can look around at markets. I usually buy about 6-7 racks a summer, at a little under $10 a rack for really good spring lamb, frozen solid and good for several months in the freezer.

Isn't law fun?

Oh -- and I never, ever put rosemary on it. Ick.