Sunday, January 24, 2010

Lamb Chops

I have cooked lamb chops before. They are generally good, solid fare. This time, they were much, much more!

Using pieces of recipes from various sources (Blake, Brad, google), I put together the method that would be lamb dinner. First, the meat. I bought a tray of 8 lamb chops from Costco about 6 months ago, cooked 4, froze 4. These chops are about 2.5 inches thick and have a similarly sized width. The day before I was to have lamb goodness, I put the frozen meat into the fridge overnight, pulling it out a couple of hours before I cooked it the next day. When I pulled it out, I added my "marinade." (quotation marks to be explained shortly...)

Second, the "marinade." Very simple: Maille whole grain mustard and 4 cloves of garlic, black pepper. I slathered the mustard all over the chops, using roughly 8 ounces of the stuff. After that, I pressed the garlic straight into the bag, 2 cloves per side of meat, and let it sit out on the counter for another hour. (That is actually a lie, because, had I set out the lamb on the counter, you would have assumed this would have been my kitchen counter. I would not have dared do this, however, because the ambient winter temperature in my kitchen is generally 60, a poor temperature for thawing meats. Thus, I took my baggie of lamb goodness and sat it on the ottoman beside me as I watched basketball.) I digress. So you see - not much of a marinade; much more a "marinade;" perhaps a slather.

About an hour later, I removed the lamb from its bag onto the nonstick grill pan. This will be the only part of my meal I will change for next time because the mustard simply stuck to the grill pan and burned up. I spent the latter half of the cooking time scraping mounds of burnt mustard from the pan so the meat could actually maintain contact with a hot cooking surface. Turns out mustard globs aren't good heat conductors in this respect.

Third, the cooking procedure. I cooked the lamb for about 6 minutes on each side over a medium high heat. You will note there are 6 sides to my lamb chops, so these got good and cooked. I opted to not bake them off, though if I choose this option next time, I will use less mustard in the "marinade." When I was done, they were a perfect rare to medium rare in the center and were excellently tender on the outsides.

Fourth, the fix. After taking a bite, I noted my lamb tasted good, lamby, mustardy, but that it lacked punch. This is where I pulled a fast one. I grabbed my massive container of dried parsley from the spice cabinet and shook out about 3 tablespoons into a bowl. I added roughly that same amount of olive oil, then squeezed in half a clementine that was staring at me from the cutting board, and dripped in about 2 tablespoons of rice wine vinegar. I topped it off with a couple cloves of garlic, salt, pepper, and whisked vigorously for 10 seconds. This, my friends, was the most fantastic part of my meal: the chimichurri. Had I not recently visited old favorite Texas de Brazil, I may have not recalled the utility of the chimichurri re: meats, but having done so, my brain was checked in. I opted to dip my individual bites into the chim, as this is my general treatment of any side sauce; I do not enjoy dumping a mess of sauce over my meal. You may beg to differ.

In the end, though, this lamb chop meal was a fine one. And yes, I did have sides. As I cooked the lamb, I ate a tomato/cucumber/carrot salad (add rice wine vinegar, olive oil, clementine juice [because it was sitting there], salt, pepper, garlic) and for a starch, I had some homemade croutons. I ate two of the chops, and fully admit to cleaning the bones like a champ.