Virgil's root beer and a rack of Australian lamb, both found at Trader Joe's, provided the inspiration for this hors d'oeuvre.
The chutney needs to cook for an hour, but it can be made up to 1 week in advance.
Servings: 16 - 18
Yield: Makes 16 to 18 hors d'oeuvres
- For the chutney
- 1 cup red wine vinegar
- 12 ounces (1 1/2 cups) root beer, preferably Virgil's
- 8 ounces dried black mission figs, stemmed and coarsely chopped (a scant 2 cups)
- 1/4 cup finely chopped shallot (1 large or 3 small)
- 1/8 teaspoon ground allspice or ground cloves
- 1/2 teaspoon mustard seed
- 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- For the lamb
- 1 rack Australian lamb (about 8 chops, 3/4 to 1 pound total)
- 1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary, preferably ground
- Kosher salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1/2 baguette, about 12 inches, cut into 16 to 18 thin slices
For the chutney: Combine the vinegar, root beer, figs, shallot, allspice or cloves, mustard seeds, salt and pepper iin a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium or medium-low to maintain a very slow boil. Cook uncovered, stirring occasionally, for about 1 hour, until most of the liquid has evaporated. Remove from the heat and let cool.
Transfer the cooled chutney to the bowl of a food processor; pulse to form a thick paste. Transfer to a container; you will have about 1 3/4 cups of chutney. At this point, the chutney can be refrigerated for up to a week. Just before serving, heat the chutney in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat for 3 to 4 minutes, until it thins out a little (10 to 12 minutes if it has been refrigerated).
For the lamb: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Use a sharp, pointed knife to debone the lamb loin, cutting the meat away from the bones. (The bones can be reserved to make a rich stock.)
Place a small ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat. While the pan is heating, season the loin on all sides with the rosemary, salt and pepper to taste. Place in the hot skillet, fat side down. Use tongs to turn the loin and sear on all sides just until each side is beginning to brown, about 20 seconds on each side. Transfer the skillet to the oven and roast for about 10 minutes, until the temperature of the loin registers 130 degrees on an instant-read thermometer. Transfer to a cutting board and let rest for 2 minutes, then cut into 16 to 18 slices.
Arrange the baguette slices on a platter and top each with a slice of the lamb loin. Top with 1 teaspoon of the chutney. Serve warm or at room temperature.
From Tom Mueller, chef of Pineapple Alley Catering in Clinton.
Tested by Tom Mueller and Bonnie S. Benwick.
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