Chef’s Table: The Bear and Star’s Ranch Lamb with Brown-Butter Spaghetti Squash

Posted on Oct 19 by SEASONS Magazine

The Bear and Star’s Ranch Lamb with Brown-Butter Spaghetti Squash, Courtesy Photo.

Chef John Cox’s passion for food began as a teenager when he saved his paper route money to try fine dining restaurants in Santa Fe. At age 18, he enrolled in the New England Culinary Institute.

After graduating, he moved to Big Sur to work with Craig Von Foerster at Post Ranch Inn, going from culinary intern to Executive Chef. Cox’s style showcased the Big Sur Coast, featuring dishes with black ants, sea cucumbers and even live jellyfish. Cox also worked with Noble House Hotels nationwide, Georis Restaurant Group in Carmel, Hotel Hana Maui and Sea Ranch Lodge in Sonoma.

In 2017 he teamed with the family of Fess Parker to open The Bear and Star, inspired by Texan family recipes and a California sensibility. The team created a true ecosystem on the 710-acre family ranch, designed to supply the restaurant with responsibly raised Wagyu beef, pork, rabbits, quail, chicken, bees and organically grown vegetables, herbs and fruits.  Integral to the menu is Cox’s creation—a 30′ custom reverse-flow Texas smoker for slow smoking and barbecuing many of the dishes.

Ranch Lamb with Brown-Butter Spaghetti Squash

With Autumn Herb Gremolata. Serves 4.

This dish is a celebration of autumn at the ranch. Everything from the sheep to the squash and tomatoes were grown right here on the property. Because we raise each lamb personally, we take great responsibility for honoring the life of the animal.

Roasted Lamb Rack
Place a large cast iron pan on a burner at high heat. Season the lamb racks heavily with salt and pepper. Place the racks fat side down in the pan and gently shake the pan to keep the lamb from sticking. Once the lamb begins to caramelize, add the butter and rosemary. Use a large spoon to baste the hot butter over the lamb and continue basting the lamb until the top of the rack begins to brown (approximately 7 minutes.). Carefully turn the lamb over in the pan and continue to baste for an additional 5 minutes. Turn off the heat and then rest for 10 minutes, turning the racks every few minutes.

Brown Butter Spaghetti Squash
Roast the squash by puncturing it a few times with a paring knife then placing it on a baking sheet in a 400-degree oven. Cook until the squash is soft to the touch. Allow the squash to cool and then cut in half. Using a fork, pull out the strands of meat inside of the squash and reserve. Place the butter in a pan over medium heat and cook until the butter begins to bubble and turn brown. Add the shallots and cook until they are soft. Add the sugar, salt, pepper and cider vinegar. Stir until thoroughly mixed. Mix the butter mixture into the spaghetti squash and adjust seasoning to taste.

Autumn Herb Gremolata
Use a knife to finely chop the herbs and garlic. Combine herbs in a bowl with the olive oil, vinegar and salt.


Roasted Lamb Rack

12 lamb racks
(roughly 1# each)

2 oz butter

1 rosemary branch

Salt and pepper

Autumn Herb Gremolata

1 cup mixed winter herbs (whatever is fresh: thyme, sage, rosemary, mint, savory, oregano etc.)

3 cloves garlic, peeled

1/4 cup olive oil

1 tablespoon cider vinegar

1 tablespoon kosher salt

Brown Butter Spaghetti Squash

1 spaghetti squash

1 shallot

4 oz butter

4 tablespoons brown sugar

1 tablespoon kosher salt

1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper

2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

Other Garnishes

The lamb with the squash and Gremolata is fantastic, but here at The Bear and Star we add an assortment of garnishes that add both texture and vibrancy to the dish. You can enjoy the dish as is, or play with your own combinations of garnishes based on what you have on hand. For the dish pictured we used: toasted sunflower and pumpkin seeds, caramelized sweet onions, fresh gooseberries, radish and cherry tomatoes and petite radish greens.

This story was originally published in the Fall 2017 issue of Santa Barbara Seasons Magazine.


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