Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Lamb Loin Chops with Pan-roasted Grapes & Zinfandel

Lamb Loin Chops with Pan-roasted Grapes & Zinfandel
Sous Vide and Grill Methods
Serves: 4
Difficulty: Easy
Sous Vide Temp: 131- 134 degree F; Time: 2-4 hours
Lamb Loin Chops with Pan-roasted Grapes & Zinfandel
This is a simple recipe and a spectacular one. In the heart of the Paso Robles wine district, you will find wine and food paired in cooking as well as serving. This recipe includes actual grapes into the sauce adding an additional sweet note. One thing we know about California’s zinfandel: it is a far, far more food versatile wine than usually assumed.

But it wasn’t always like that. A couple of decades ago the country was still awash with pink colored “white zinfandel”; and focusing on the other two “fighting varietals,” chardonnay and cabernet sauvignon, many of the mainstream California wineries went so far as to drop red zinfandel from their lineups. This may have been good thing, because all it did was dramatize the inevitable resurgence all the more; towards the end of the nineties, when artisanal producers began pushing their big red Zins, recalling some of mammoth Zins that came and went with the seventies. Like micro-minis, fondue, VW bugs and martinis, there are many things never really go away – they just come back with a vengeance.

Other extraordinary easy meat dishes on the blog:

Veal Chops with Arugula and Green Salsa

  • 8 lamb loin chops
  • 3 tsp minced fresh mint
  • 2 tsp minced fresh rosemary
  • ¼ C extra-virgin olive oil
  • Canola oil
  • 1 Tb extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 lb. seedless red grapes, on the stem, snipped into small clusters
  • ½ tsp honey
  • ¾ tsp coarsely chopped fresh mint
  • ½ tsp fresh rosemary leaves
  • ½ C Paso Robles Zinfandel
  • 2 Tb unsalted butter, chilled, cut into 4 pieces

Place the lamb chops on a plate or in a shallow baking dish. In a small bowl, blend together the minced mint, rosemary and olive oil. Spread the paste evenly over each side of the chops and let stand for 1 hour at room temperature.
Rosemary and mint for the lamb 
Lam chops ready to cook!
Meanwhile, place a skillet over medium heat and add the Tb of olive oil. Add grapes, let them cook, tossing frequently, until they begin to soften and break down. Stir in honey, mint, rosemary, and wine. Bring to a simmer and let the liquid reduce until slightly syrupy. Remove from heat and let stand while you prepare the meat.
Seedless red grapes

In the skillet....

After stirring in the wine, etc.

To grill, it is best to employ a two-zone approach to cooking, where the grill is split into hot and cold zones by piling the coals all on one side of the charcoal grate or turning on burners on just one side of your gas grill. This way the lamb can be seared and slowly roasted separately. Start your lamb on the cool side of the grill to deliver a more gentle heat to the meat, raising its temperature at a slower pace. Covering it with an overturned disposable aluminum tray to help trap in and regulate the heat around the chops will help. When it reaches about 10 degree shy from desired temperature, that's about 124 degrees, the chops are uncovered and moved to the hot side of the grill. They’ll quickly sear and come up to the final temperature at the same time - 132 degree F for medium rare. Once grilled, let them rest for 10 minutes off the grill, temperature will rise a bit more.

For sous vide, heat the sous vide bath to 131 degrees F for medium rare, 134 degree F for a bit closer to medium. Lamb is best when done between rare to medium, medium-rare being my preferred temperature. Shake off any excess marinade and place chops in their individual zip lock bags sealing by displacement method. Once the air is out of the bag, carefully and completely seal the bag just above the waterline and drop in or clip to side. If clipped, be certain entire chop is submerged. Alternatively, seal the bag using a vacuum sealer. Cook for 2-4 hours. Once the time has elapsed, open the bag and pat each of the lamb chops with a paper towel to remove excess moisture. This will ensure you get a good sear. Don’t worry if you remove the herbs, its basically done its job already. Heat a cast iron skillet; add 1-2 Tb canola oil to barely cover the bottom. Once roaring hot, briefly sear the chops until they are just golden brown, about 20 seconds each side.
After sous vide...not very appetizing yet!
Browned in the cast iron skillet....much better!
Return grape mixture to medium heat just until steaming, then remove from heat, add chilled butter, and jiggle the pan until the butter has melted and the grapes are nicely coated.

Divide the chops among four warmed plates and place a cluster or two of grapes on the side; spoon some of the pan juices over the chops. Serve the cheering crowds and serve with some Paso Robles Zinfandel!

Bon Appetit!


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