Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Grilled Lamb Chops with Cilantro Mint Vinaigrette

“What do you mean, you don't eat no meat? That's okay. I make lamb!”
--My Big Fat Greek Wedding (2002)

Almost everyone loves lamb. You can use a rack of lamb or individual chops in this recipe.  While lamb might not be one of the meats you think about grilling, no other meat benefits more from the fire. Young lamb used to be brought to market in April and May. But today, thanks to controlled breeding, young lamb can be had year round. If it is impossible to grill outside, roasting directions are also included.  So, read on, get to the store and try this amazing dish. This is great served with a variety of side dishes.  Recently I served it with Orzo with Grilled Zucchini and Sun-dried Tomatoes (also on the blog). Other options would be stir-fried vegetables or vegetable-fried rice.

To serve 4, you need about two racks of lamb (perhaps 2 pounds each), trimmed and cut into single or double chops (or leave whole in racks). Marinade the lamb at least 1 hour and preferably overnight. In a bowl, mix together 1 C soy sauce, 1 C mirin (sweet sake), 1 Tb Asian sesame oil, 2 C chopped scallions (white and green parts) and 1 Tb dried red chili flakes.  Pour marinade over the lamb chops and refrigerate covered, and submerged, for at least one hour and up to 8 hours.

Double lamb chops
Marinating chops
While the lamb is marinating, prepare the vinaigrette. In a blender, combine ½ C unseasoned rice wine vinegar, ¼ C coarsely chopped mint, cilantro and parsley, 1 Tb honey, and a dash of chili oil. Blend until smooth. Slowly add 1 C peanut oil.  Season with salt and pepper. I often add 1 egg yolk to the blender before adding peanut oil in order to emulsify and thicken the vinaigrette – however it is optional if uncomfortable with using a raw egg.
Making the vinaigrette
Remove rack or lamb chops from marinade, pat dry, and toss the marinade. For a lamb rack:  place lamb on a hot grill.  Grill medium rare, about 15-20 minutes to internal temperature of 135 degree F for medium-rare or 140 degree F for medium. If roasting the rack, put into a preheated 400 degree F oven for 20 – 35 minutes. For the chops, sauté each side about 2-3 min and then put into a 400 degree F oven for 10 minutes.

In any case – once either the rack or chops are cooked – remove to a cutting board, lightly cover with foil and let it rest for 10 minutes. This is critical step as discussed in the Perfect Steak recipe previously posted. The meat continues to cook during this period – and the internal temperature will rise about 5-10 degrees. The “rest” also allows time for the juices equilibrate makes for a juicy lamb chop.

To serve, make an island of sauce on each plate.  Place 2-4 chops on center.  Decorate with cilantro or mint sprigs on top and serve.

Lamb is always exciting for wine lovers because it invites big, strong flavors.  There are many wonderful California Zinfandels that are perfect partners for the powerful flavors in this dish. When we served it, it was sublime with both the Turley Zin and a Willam Selyem Zinfandel.

Enjoy! We did.  ☺


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