Prep 5 mins Cook Sauce 25 mins Roast Lamb 25 mins Eat 30-55 mins
Making this delicious Cherry Pinot Noir Sauce to go with Rack of Lamb or Pork Roast at Easter has become a tradition. A holiday that has become more meaningful to me by attending church services during Holy Week. But since going to Greece in 2016 and celebrating the Greek Orthodox Easter on Santorini, eating lamb and celebrating Easter has new significance for me.
Last year my sweetie and I celebrated a belated honeymoon in Greece that was magical. Magical because it was our honeymoon. Magical because we were on the island of Santorini during the Greek Orthodox Easter. Magical because Santorini is a unique and romantic island steeped in so much religious, archeological and culinary history.
The Greek Orthodox Easter is often later than the western Christian Easter. In 2016, it was on May 1, a full five weeks past the western Easter. As we boarded the loaded ferry on Thursday in Piraeus headed for Santorini, we had no idea it was Easter. Piled up luggage and baby strollers occupied every space of the ferry that was not occupied by a person. We were travelling with the locals for their Easter vacation! The Greek Orthodox Easter is a serious family religious celebration and we watched families being reunited at each ferry landing. Five hours later, we arrived by ferry at Santorini and were wowed with the beauty of the white villages that dotted the cliff sides and thrilled by the experience that was about to unfold.
White villages with sweet little churches hanging off the cliff were every few steps away just like a scene out of Mamma Mia.
Honeymoon couples find Santorini a beautiful backdrop for their wedding pictures.
Video of Easter Vigil from Pyrgos, Santorini – Watch the fire and lights and be amazed!
Friday night we walked the path from Imerovigli toward Fira and saw fire and fireworks in the sky. We were surprised that we would see this on Good Friday, but had no idea what was happening in the village of Pyrgos – a few miles away until my Greek friend, Mary sent me this video that recorded this historic event. Watch it and be blown away! and even emotional!
On Saturday evening after dinner, we heard the church bells ringing at 11:00 p.m.
There were at least three churches near our path on the hillside, so we listened and followed the bells to the church a street away from our villa and joined in the midnight service. So meaningful, each person lit a candle at an altar when entering the dark church as more than 200 people streamed in during the hour. Then at midnight, each person lights their special Easter candle and more fireworks in the sky again signify the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. We were completely moved by the experience.
One day we walked the path about 5 miles at the crest of the island from our village of Imerovigli (seen in the distance) to the village of Oia. We continuously marvelled at all the white stone homes and buildings built into the side of the cliff. The rich cultural and architectural history of Santorini is fascinating. It gives a new meaning to hill towns. At times on our walk, we could see the ocean on both sides of the island at the same time.
The next day, as we rode to the ferry landing, every family was outdoors roasting a lamb on a spit to celebrate their Easter dinner. The lamb is succulent and rich and since that experience, I will never look at Easter the same way again. Lamb has so much significance to this holiday.
Create your own Easter or special occasion dinner with this delicious Rack of Lamb with Dried Cherry Pinot Noir Sauce.
This Dried Cherry Pinot Noir Sauce made in our Spring Entertaining Cooking Class is requested again and again. It goes great with a lamb or pork roast or for that matter, any roasted meat or poultry.
We made this Rack of Lamb with Dried Cherry Pinot Noir Sauce at my friend Gerry’s house and now she makes it for Easter each year with lamb or roast pork.
Rack of Lamb with Dried Cherry Pinot Noir Sauce
1 cup dried cherries
1/2 cup orange juice
1/2 cup port wine
1 Tablespoon olive oil
l large shallot, minced
2 cups chicken stock
1 cup pinot noir wine
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves, chopped
2 Tablespoon hoisin sauce
1 Tablespoon unsalted butter
1 pinch Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
2 1 1/2 pound frenched racks of lamb (8 ribs each)
1 Tablespoon Lawry’s Seasoned Salt
1. Preheat oven to 350° with rack in the middle. Make the sauce. Put the cherries in a bowl and add the orange juice and port winek to plump them up. Set aside.
2. Heat the olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the shallot and cook until tender, but not browned, 3 to 4 minutes. Stir in the chicken stock, pinot noir wine and thyme. Raise the heat to medium-high. Bring to a boil and continue boiling until reducing to half its volume, about 15 minutes or less. Stir in the hoisin sauce.
3. Add the plumped cherries and their liquid to the pan. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to low. Continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until the liquid turns slightly syrupy, 7 to 10 minutes. Whisk in butter. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Cover the pan to keep warm for serving. Sauce can be made in advance and reheated.
4. While the sauce is cooking, season the racks all over with Lawry’s Seasoned Salt. Intertwine the 8 ribs of one rack with the other so they stand up on their own on your baking tray. Roast the racks for 25-35 minutes or until a thermometer inserted diagonally into the center of meat registers 120°. I test for doneness by pressing the meat with a clean finger. When it sinks in a little, it is rare, which is best for roast lamb Your guests who want it cooked more will enjoy the ends. Let the rack sit on the baking tray for 5-10 minutes before you slice into it. Then slice each rack into 8 pieces letting the ribs be your guide. Place 2 ribs on each plate and top with the sauce.
5. If any of your guests shudder at the sight of rare meat, offer to sear their pieces on a baking tray that you could have already hot in the oven for just this purpose. One minute in the hot oven should do the job.
Servings: 8 – 842 calories per serving