“How many prime rib roasts can truly be enjoyed over the holidays in a lifetime?” says Executive Chef Todd Knoll. “Lamb is now available year round, and as the seasons progress, it becomes more flavorful and allows for a more aggressive dry rub.” Knoll is known for a blend of classic French and modernist cooking at Jordan Vineyard & Winery in Healdsburg, California, highlighting seasonal ingredients and exotic spices. During the holiday season, he enjoys serving roasted lamb, arguably Sonoma County wine country’s finest local meat, for his family feasts. This lamb recipe showcases an innovative blend of Mediterranean and Asian flavors.
1 7–8-pound leg of lamb, bone-in
8 Japanese eggplants
¼ cup Jordan Extra Virgin Olive Oil
½ cup fresh lemon juice
½ cup Jordan Sumac Rub (recipe to follow)
Jordan Sumac Rub:
¼ cup sumac
2 tablespoons garlic powder
2 tablespoons dehydrated onion
6 tablespoons kosher salt
3½ tablespoons Coleman’s dry mustard
3 tablespoons ancho chili powder
3½ tablespoons demerara sugar*
4 teaspoons smoked paprika
2 tablespoons black pepper, ground
2 tablespoons Turkish Aleppo pepper
2 tablespoons dry oregano
2 tablespoons coriander, toasted and ground
* May substitute with turbinado or sugar in the raw
To prepare the Jordan Sumac Rub:
Combine all ingredients and pulse in a spice or coffee grinder. Store in a Mason jar or airtight container and keep in the pantry for up to one month. Yields 1¾ cups.
To prepare the leg of lamb:
Remove the leg of lamb from refrigerator and rub with extra virgin olive oil, lemon juice and ½ cup of the Jordan Sumac Rub.
Preheat oven to 350°F. Allow the lamb to come to room temperature and roast for 1½ hours until a meat thermometer reads 135°F. Allow to rest for 15 minutes, tented with foil, prior to slicing.
To prepare the grilled eggplant:
Pierce the eggplants with a fork and grill over high heat for 8–10 minutes, or until completely soft. Immediately plunge into an ice bath and let rest. When cool to the touch, peel from the stem down and place the whole eggplants in a sauté pan with olive oil, salt and pepper. Leave uncovered and warm in the oven during the last 10 minutes of roasting the lamb.
Slice the eggplants on a bias and serve with the lamb, grilled pita and tzatziki. Serves 8–10.
Pair this dish with an elegant, low alcohol Cabernet Sauvignon, such as Jordan or a Saint-Julien from Bordeaux. The spices in the rub bring out the bright, tart fruit flavors in these Cabernets and complement the wines’ acidity.