Mustard-Crusted Rack of Lamb with Balsamic Fig Sauce

The hearty flavor of lamb is even more delicious when bold flavors accompany it. Spicy Dijon mustard and a slightly sweet sauce made from Mission figs and balsamic vinegar are a perfect complement to this roasted lamb. Enjoy this fabulous recipe for a holiday celebration or a special evening.

Start to Finish: 1 hour plus 1 to 24 hours to marinate

Yield: 4 servings, half a rack per serving

lamb racks, frenched, fat removed
tablespoons Dijon mustard
teaspoons thyme, chopped
tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
cup whole-wheat bread crumbs
Mission figs, cut in quarters
tablespoons balsamic vinegar
teaspoons agave syrup
1 1/2
cups beef stock
teaspoons cold butter
teaspoon lemon juice
Salt and pepper to taste


  1. Season lamb well with salt and pepper. Let sit for 30 minutes or, preferably, overnight.
  2. Preheat oven to 400°F. Combine mustard and thyme in a small bowl. Set aside.
  3. Heat a heavy-bottomed sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add 1 tablespoon of the olive oil; place lamb racks meat side down in the pan. Cook until well browned. Turn and brown on other side. The lamb will still be raw. Reserve the sauté pan.
  4. Spread the mustard mixture on meat side of lamb rack. Combine bread crumbs and 2 teaspoons of the olive oil. Rub together until the bread is lightly coated. Place on a plate.
  5. Roll the meat side of the lamb into the bread crumbs to coat lightly. Place lamb on a rack on a baking sheet, meat side up. Roast in a 400°F oven for 15 minutes or until the bread has browned and the lamb is 125°F (medium-rare). Remove to a warm spot.
Let rest for 15 minutes.
  6. While the lamb is roasting, place the sauté pan back on medium heat. Add the remaining 1 teaspoon olive oil and the figs, cut side down. Cook for 1 to 2 minutes to brown the figs, being careful not to burn the drippings in the pan. Once the figs
are lightly browned, remove from the pan and reserve. Add the balsamic vinegar to the pan, reduce until almost dry. Add the agave syrup and beef stock and cook until reduced by half. Return figs to the sauce, adjust seasonings with salt and pepper, and gently stir in butter and lemon juice, stirring constantly to melt the butter.
  7. Once the lamb has rested, cut each rack into double chops (4 per rack, 2 double chops per serving). Place 2 chops on each dinner plate and serve with 2 tablespoons of sauce.


  • Replace figs with pitted cherries.


Cornish Game Hens with Wild Rice, Pecan, and Fig Stuffing

I love the country-style flavors of this recipe and the simple presentation. Cornish game hens are flavorful and can be prepared in a similar way to chicken. This meal has a great combination of the sweet and savory flavors of wild rice, figs, and balsamic vinegar.

Start to Finish: 90 minutes Yield: 4 servings, 1⁄2 hen per serving

Cornish game hens

cup celery, chopped

  • cup onion, chopped
  • cups wild rice, cooked according to package directions
  • 6
    Mission figs, cut in quarters 11⁄2 cup chicken stock
    cup pecans, toasted and chopped 1 tablespoon parsley, chopped

    cup scallions, chopped

    • tablespoons balsamic vinegar
    • 2 teaspoons agave syrup
    teaspoon lemon juice Salt and pepper to taste


    1. Preheat oven to 450°F
    2. Season the game hens inside and out with
salt and pepper. Set aside.
    3. Heat a sauté pan over medium heat. Add olive oil, celery, and onions; season with salt and pepper. Sauté over medium heat until translucent. Add cooked wild rice, 4 of the cut figs, and 1⁄2 cup of the chicken stock. Cook together for 5 minutes until the stock has reduced by half. Remove from heat. Stir in pecans, parsley, and scallions. Adjust seasoning.
    4. Pour the stuffing in a 9-inch x 9-inch pan. (Reserve sauté pan.) Place game hens on top. Roast in preheated oven for 10 minutes; then reduce heat to 350° and cook for 20 minutes or until the game hens are cooked through and a thermometer reads 150°F when inserted onto the thigh.
    5. Remove from the oven and allow to rest for 10 minutes.
    6. Return the sauté pan to medium heat; add balsamic vinegar and the remaining pieces of fig. Reduce balsamic vinegar over low heat to a glaze; add remaining chicken stock and bring to a simmer. Reduce by half; stir in agave syrup and lemon juice. Adjust seasoning.
    7. To serve: Cut the game hens in half. Divide the wild rice evenly among 4 plates. Place the game hens on top. Pour 2 tablespoons of sauce around the hen.


    Herb-Roasted Turkey

    Perfectly seasoned with a variety of spices and herbs and a dash of white wine, this roasted turkey breast makes an elegant entrée.

    Start to Finish: 1 hour Yield: 8 servings


    2-pound boneless turkey breast, skinned

    • 1⁄2  teaspoon kosher salt
    • 1⁄2  teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
    • 2  teaspoons lemon zest
    • 3  tablespoons lemon juice
    tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

    tablespoons fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped

    1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, chopped
    tablespoon fresh sage, chopped
    tablespoon fresh thyme, chopped
    cloves garlic, minced (1 tablespoon minced)
    cup chicken broth
    cup dry white wine


    1. Preheat oven to 400°F. Season turkey breast with kosher salt and pepper. Place turkey
in a shallow roasting pan. In a small bowl, combine lemon zest, lemon juice, olive oil, 1 tablespoon of the parsley, rosemary, sage, thyme, and garlic. Rub herb mixture over turkey breast.
    2. Roast turkey for 10 minutes. Pour
broth and wine over turkey. Reduce oven temperature to 350°F. Roast turkey about
25 minutes more or until turkey is tender and no longer pink (155°F), spooning juices in pan over turkey every 10 minutes. Let rest for 15 minutes before slicing.
    3. To serve, slice turkey. Spoon some of the cooking juices from the roasting pan over individual servings. Sprinkle with the remaining 1 tablespoon parsley.



    • For maximum flavor, allow the turkey to marinate in the herb mixture overnight.
    • Letting the meat rest before slicing allows the juices to flow back into the meat.


    Prepare a brine: 11⁄2 tablespoons kosher salt,
1 tablespoon brown sugar, 2 cups water,
1⁄2 teaspoon black peppercorns, 1 pinch allspice, 1⁄4 teaspoon coriander, 1 sprig thyme, and 1 bay leaf. Heat just to dissolve the salt. Let sit for 10 minutes. Add 2 cups ice with water to cover. Chill. Add turkey breast; place in Ziploc bag or a container large enough to keep the turkey breast submerged (place a weight on top to keep it submerged). Let turkey sit
in the brine for several hours. Remove from brine, rinse well, and dry.


    Smoky Mexican Seafood Cocktail

    This festive appetizer is succulent and sweet, thanks to the starring ingredients, shrimp or crabmeat. It looks exquisite served in martini glasses and will take you only 20 minutes to prepare.

    Start to Finish: 20 minutes Yield: 8 servings

    1 1/2
    cups clam-tomato juice cocktail, chilled
    cup red onion, finely chopped
    cup fresh cilantro, chopped
    cup lime juice
    tablespoon tomato paste (optional)
    teaspoons bottled chipotle in adobo sauce or bottled hot pepper sauce
    6 1⁄2-ounce cans crabmeat, drained, flaked, and cartilage removed, OR 12 ounces shrimp with tails, cooked, peeled, and deveined, OR 6 ounces of each
    medium avocado, halved, pitted, peeled, and choppe
    cup cucumber, seeded, peeled, and chopped
    lime wedges (optional) Fresh cilantro (optional)


    1. In a medium bowl, combine clam-tomato juice cocktail, red onion, cilantro, lime juice, tomato paste (if using), and chipotle pepper sauce.
    2. Add the crabmeat (if using), avocado, and cucumber. Toss gently to coat. Divide mixture among eight martini glasses. Top with shrimp (if using). Garnish with lime wedges and cilantro if desired.


    Roast Pork Tenderloin with Sautéed Apples and Dried Cherries

    Tenderloin is the leanest and most tender portion of pork. The richness of the meat is complemented by the tartness of the apples and dry cherries.

    Start to Finish: 70 minutes

    Yield: 4 servings

    pound pork tenderloin, fat removed
    teaspoon fresh ginger, ground
    teaspoon Spanish paprika, smoked or plain
    tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
    Granny Smith or Golden Delicious apple, peeled, cored, and cut in 1⁄4-inch wedges
    teaspoon fresh ginger, grated 2 sage leaves
    cup dried cherries
1⁄2 tablespoon maple syrup
    cup low-sodium chicken stock Salt and pepper to taste


    1. Season pork with salt and pepper.
    2. Combine ginger, paprika and 1⁄2 tablespoon of the olive oil. Spread over pork to marinate for 30 minutes or as long as overnight.
    3. Preheat oven to 400°F.
    4. Heat a sauté pan over medium heat. Add the remaining 1⁄2 tablespoon olive oil and pork tenderloin. Cook until lightly browned. Turn tenderloin over and continue to cook until golden brown all over. Remove from pan (reserve pan to prepare the sauce). Place on a rack on a sheet pan and roast in the oven until the pork reaches an internal temperature of 143°F. Remove from oven and allow pork to rest for 15 minutes.
    5. Add apples to sauté pan. Cook over medium heat until golden brown. Flip and cook on other side until golden brown but still with a slightly firm texture. Add ginger, sage, dried cherries, maple syrup, and stock. Bring to a simmer and reduce by three quarters until apples are tender and liquid is syrupy.
    6. Slice pork 1⁄4 inch thick on the bias or against the grain. Serve on a bed of apples and drizzle with syrup.