Recipe of the week: A Mexican-American marriage made in Chicago

From Priscila Satkoff of ¡Salpicón! in Chicago: Baby racks of lamb with a pumpkin seed crust served in a pool of pasilla-tomatillo sauce.

Priscila Satkoff grew up in Mexico City, absorbing the sights, smells, and tastes of the traditional Mexican ingredients used in her mother’s kitchen. Later she moved to the U.S. Though she still longed for the flavors of her youth, she also enjoyed having access to new, previously unavailable ingredients, including fresh lamb, scallops, and tender beef. The marriage of traditional Mexican seasonings and American ingredients served as the inspiration for many of the signature dishes at ¡Salpicón!, Satkoff’s Chicago restaurant.

In The ¡Salpicón! Cookbook: Contemporary Mexican Cuisine (Chronicle Books), Satkoff notes that the following dish is “a perfect illustration of how the right wine can match Mexican food.” She couldn’t imagine serving it without an accompanying red wine—preferably a Cabernet Sauvignon. She notes, too, that the pumpkin seed crust is more flavorful than a typical bread crumb coating, “and the crunchy texture is more interesting, too.”

Recipe of the week

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Costillitas de Borrego con Corteza de Pepitas

(Baby Racks of Lamb With a Pumpkin Seed Crust)

¼ cup canola oil

Four 8-oz baby racks of lamb, bones frenched

Fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

½ cup honey, heated until liquid

1 cup shelled pumpkin seeds (pepitas), toasted and pulsed in a food processor until coarsely chopped

Position a rack in top third of oven; preheat oven to 450 degrees. Heat oil in large, heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Season lamb racks to taste with salt and pepper. Add racks to skillet, meaty side down; cook until browned, about 5 minutes. Stand racks on end; brown one end and then the other, about 1 minute per end. Place on a rack in a roasting pan; transfer to oven. Roast for about 15 minutes, or until instant-read thermometer inserted into thickest part of lamb rack reads 130 degrees for medium-rare.

Remove from the oven; tent loosely with aluminum foil; let stand for 8 to 10 minutes so juices can settle. Heat honey in small saucepan or in microwave oven just until liquid. Brush honey over lamb; coat with crushed pumpkin seeds. To serve, spoon some of pasilla-tomatillo sauce in center of each of 4 dinner plates. Cut each rack in half crosswise; arrange halves on plates. Serve hot. Serves 4.

For pasilla-tomatillo sauce:

8 pasilla chilies, seeded, deveined, and toasted

4 large garlic cloves, crushed

1½ cups water

1 cup roasted tomatillo sauce

Fine sea salt

Purée chilies, garlic, water in a blender. Strain through sieve into medium saucepan. Stir in roasted tomatillo sauce; bring to boil over medium heat. Season with salt. Set aside. (The sauce can be made up to a day ahead, cooled, covered, and refrigerated. Reheat before serving.)

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