Rack of Lamb with Pecan-Chipotle Sauce (Costillas de Cordero con Salsa de Nuez y Chipotle)

Morita chiles are red, fully mature Chipotles. This gives them a unique, medium – hot smokey flavor which is popular in many Southwestern dishes. These can be added to sauces (including Mole) to add smokey flavor and maintain the red color of the sauces. These peppers are about 2-4 inches in length, 1 inch in width, and have a deep brick reddish brown color. The word Chipotle translated to smoked chile. Consider the Chipotle a 6.5 on a scale of 1-10 (10 being the hottest). Scoville heat units 7,000-25,000.

Suggested Use:
Use Morita in enchilada sauces, chili, stews, barbecue ribs, and corn bread. Their smoky quality combines well with poultry, meats and fall squash.

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2 Tbsp. olive oil
1/2 small white onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, chopped
1/2 cup chopped pecans
4 cups water
8 fresh cilantro sprigs
1 tsp. finely chopped canned chipotle chiles plus 2 Tbsp. adobo sauce
1/4 cup chile seeds (from any dried but not smoked chile, such as ancho or pasilla)
3/4 tsp. anise seed
1/2 tsp. ground allspice
2 whole cloves
two 1-1/4 to 1-1/2 pound racks of lamb, fat trimmed, frenched (trimmed between bones)


Heat the oil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat and add the onion. Saute until the onions turn translucent, about 2 minutes. Add the garlic and saute for 1 minute, then add the pecans, 4 cups water and cilantro. Boil the mixture for 10 minutes, then mix in the chipotle chiles and adobo sauce. Remove the cilantro. Puree the mixture in a blender, then return it to the saucepan and boil until it reduces to 1-1/2 cups, about 20 minutes. Season the sauce to taste with salt.

Preheat the oven to 350F.

Toast the chile seeds in a large skillet over medium-high heat, shaking the pan constantly, until the seeds become aromatic, about 3 minutes. Transfer the seeds to a spice grinder along with the other spices and grind very fine.

Sprinkle the lamb with some salt and then coat with some of the spice mixture. Place the lamb, bone side down, on a heavy rimmed baking sheet and roast the lamb until a meat thermometer inserted into thickest part of meat registers 125F for medium-rare, about 25 minutes. Let the lamb stand 5 minutes. Cut the racks of lamb into chops; top with the chile sauce and serve immediately.

Recipe from Bon Appetit Magazine, May 2003.