Did Eve eat an apple or was it really a pomegranate? Who knows? But all throughout the Mediterranean, from ancient times to now, this thick-skinned many-seeded fruit has symbolized a long and fruitful—maybe even a little sinful—life.
Pomegranates are in season from September through February. Michael Smith, James Beard Award-winning chef and owner of both the restaurant Michael Smith and Extra Virgin, uses pomegranates to great effect in his grilled rack of lamb recipe, perfect for holiday entertaining. On the serving platter, scatter some fresh pomegranate aerils (seeds) along with green branches of fresh thyme around the grilled lamb and you’ve got instant festivity.
Smith uses both sweet-tart pomegranate syrup (less concentrated) and molasses (thicker and darker) in the marinade. You can find both syrup and molasses at Habashi House in the River Market, Pak Halal International Foods in Lenexa, Jerusalem Bakery and Café in Westport and at better grocery stores. Pomegranate syrup is usually found in the mixers aisle (think Shirley Temple cocktail), pomegranate molasses is with the condiments.
“This delicious lamb recipe can be served with couscous, roasted potatoes or one of the many Persian rice dishes, along with an array of seasonal vegetable preparation,” says Smith. “It’s a bold nod to Mediterranean flavors.”
GRILLED RACK OF LAMB MARINATED IN POMEGRANATE MOLASSES
2 seven-bone lamb racks (have the butcher cut off the chine and french the bones)
1/4 cup pomegranate molasses
1/4 cup pomegranate syrup
1 small clove garlic, peeled and smashed with the side of a chef’s knife
1 large shallot, peeled and cut into quarters
1 tablespoon fresh oregano leaves, rough chopped
2 sprigs fresh thyme, leaves picked
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
Place lamb racks on a small baking sheet and set aside. Combine the remaining marinade ingredients in a medium bowl and whisk to mix well. Brush lamb racks with marinade and let sit overnight in the refrigerator.
Prepare a fire in an outdoor grill to 400 to 500 degrees. Remove lamb rack from refrigerator and check the seasoning. Grill the racks about 8 to 10 minutes on each side, grill lid down, until desired doneness (120 degrees F internal temperature for rare; will rise 5 to 10 degrees while resting). Remove the lamb from the grill, tent with aluminum foil, and let rest for 10 minutes.
Cut into individual chops and serve.