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This is the menu served to French President Emmanuel Macron at the State Dinner last Spring. Since we enjoyed it, we thought we would serve it again. The guests were served an entree of Rack of Spring Lamb, Burnt Cipollini Soubise (a Béchamel Sauce that includes onions) and Carolina Gold Rice Jambalaya.
Let’s start with the Lamb. Lamb is not traditionally included in Jambalaya, which is a Creole dish from Louisiana (and is Spanish and not French….). However, Sheep were widely cultivated by George Washington at Mount Vernon with the heard peaking at 283 in 1785. Lamb were prevalent at the plantation from well before Martha’s first husband died and willed the plantation to his kids, who then died (....or was it murder….), and thus ownership went back to Martha and thus to George by way of marriage (...did you know George Washington had no biological children?...). Well, the point is that the original “W” raised lots of sheep.
Burnt Cipollini Soubise. A soubise is derived from one of the five French “Mother” sauces, the Béchamel sauce. This sauce consists of a roux (animal fat & rlour’) and milk. Onions added to the Béchamel make a Soubise. Cipponlini, which translates to “Little Onion” in Italian, come from Boretto, Italy (well, that is pretty close to France….closer than here). Cippolinis have a high residual sugar making them sweet and ideal to caramelize, which is where the burnt comes into play.
Jambalaya. While New Orleans clearly had French influence, Jambalaya actually traces its influence to the Spanish who were trying to recreate paella (Bouillabaisse is the closest French equivalent….which does not have rice). Furthermore, Carolina Gold Rice is a long grain rice from…..yup, South Carolina. While cultivated in Louisiana in the 18th Century, this variety of rice now only comes from the Carolinas.
So, what is Carolina Gold Rice...the rice with a cult- like following: As the story goes, a merchant ship bartered for repairs in 1685 in Charleston harbor with rice seed from Madagascar. Dr. Henry Woodward planted the seed making South Carolina the largest rice producer in the U.S. for several hundred years. It is called Carolina Gold due to the gold stalks it produces. However, the crop diminished in the Carolinas following the Civil War due to the end of slavery combined with the fact that the marsh lands were not able to support the use of heavy farm equipment. By the 1940s, Carolina Gold was no longer being cultivated….but not forgotten. It was not until the 1980s when an optometrist from Savannah, and an avid hunter, decided to plant some on his vacation property. Receiving samples from the USDA’s Rice Research Institute, the Doctor increased its cultivation significantly. This led to the attention of South Carolina based Anson Mills, a provider of artisanal grains, which began producing the rice in commercial quantities, and was the source of the rice for the White House.
Now, the use of Carolina Gold Rice in Jambalaya had both Carolinians and Louisianians up in arms. Quotes from local newspapers ranged from “This is just so wrong,” to “someone run to the supermarket and get Zatarain's in a box at least.” There are numerous historical cookbooks specifically mentioning Carolina Gold Rice in other recipes, such as Chicken Bogs (a chicken & rice dish), Pilaus (like a pilaf - the rice is dry rather than moist), and Perloos (a cousin of Jambalaya but with ingredients from the Carolinas, which includes ham and oysters). The fact of the matter is it really wasn’t even a Jambalaya regardless of the type of rice as it had no pork.
'Tis but thy name that is my enemy; What's Jambalaya? It is nor pepper, nor onion, Nor tomato, nor sausage, nor any other part, Belonging to a rice stew. O, be some other name! What's in a name? That which we call Carolina Gold by any other word would taste as nutty!
Time to Cook: 30 min.
Cook by Day: Saturday
Items included (serves 2)
Spring Rack of Lamb
Carolina Gold Rice
The Holy Trinity - onions, celery, bell peppers
*Menu items subject to slight variation based on the availability of fresh ingredients; Picture is not necessarily representative of final dish
Meal Contains (including add-ons): Milk, Wheat. We store, portion, and package various meal kits containing all eight (8) major allergens (milk, wheat, egg, soy, fish, shellfish, peanuts, and tree nuts) and cannot guarantee that cross-contamination will not occur between kits.
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