Get the Recipes: Pistachio-crusted Rack of Lamb • Mascarpone Polenta with Sun-dried Tomato Pesto • Spinach Salad with Warm Bacon Vinaigrette • Bouillabaisse • Roasted Beef Tenderloin with Foie Gras • Cranberry Cake
Eric sears the lamb in olive oil till it’s golden brown, paints it with grainy mustard, then has Barbara press a pistachio-and-herb crust onto the meat. “Don’t worry if every inch isn’t covered,” he says. Next comes placing it on a metal rack over a sheet pan. “The metal rack allows [hot] air to contact the entire surface, top and bottom,” he says. “If you want to prepare it ahead of time, you can hold it in the fridge. Bring the lamb to room temperature thirty minutes before service, then bake it at 400 degrees to the desired internal temperature. Use a meat-temperature gauge to take the guesswork out of rare, medium rare, and well done.”
As MNKO graphic designer Shelby Lynch peels and separates cloves of garlic for the polenta appetizer, I ask Mick whether he enjoys cooking. “Breakfast was always my favorite meal to prepare,” he says. “I used to cook breakfast for [my] children when [they were] younger, but now I hardly cook.” Then he adds, beaming, “Chelsea is a great cook!” Mick’s lady modestly demurs. “I cook, but there’s lots of room for improvement,” she says. “I burn things and forget ingredients.” Given the fact that Chelsea is not only an Italian-language instructor, but also the organizer and director of the nonprofit philanthropy 100 Women Who Care Maui, we’d say she’s allowed a few kitchen faux pas.
Under Eric’s watchful eye, Shelby focuses in on her paring knife, slicing each garlic clove like a surgeon, then mincing them. When I ask him whether he has any tips, he says, “Yes! No cutting fingers!” Mick quips, “Yes, it’s especially bad for musicians!” Laughter fills the kitchen.
As Eric combines the polenta ingredients in a large skillet, Ashley pours a selection from Mick Fleetwood Private Cellar wines, a light golden 2014 chenin blanc. Tasting notes from the restaurant’s website are spot on: “Aromas of bergamot and apricot and floral notes of narcissus are accentuated by a luscious, viscous weight and crisp acidity on the palate. . . . an elegant wine made in the classic Vouvray style.” The wine adds to our camaraderie, but I secretly worry about the fingers.
The bubbling polenta simmers in a chicken stock speckled with garlic, rosemary and more cream than any dish deserves. Just as I wonder if anything could be more decadent, Eric stirs in an ice cream-sized scoop of mascarpone. As our eyes widen, he nonchalantly says, “This will be spread into a sheet pan, cooled and cut into appetizer-sized portions to go with our sun-dried tomato pesto.” Mmmmm.