Lamb. A lovely meat, particularly when prepared the right way. My grandmother, all Scottish, would cook me lamb chops. And cook them. And keep cooking them.
Why do Scots use mint jelly with lamb? It’s to lubricate your teeth so you have a fighting chance to penetrate meat that is just a tad tough.
Supermarkets have not helped the lamb image. They have offered up less than ideal meat that, when cooked, produces the “lamby” smell that makes heads turn. The wrong way.
Suzen loves lamb, too. She cannot get her clients to consider lamb for Cooking by the Events. They just won’t do it.
So, we do. On weekends, when we cook for ourselves and our friends, we buy great lamb, we don’t overcook it, and we relish every bite. This recipe is a perfect appetizer, one that is naturally paired with a stiff cocktail — and you’ll find one of those at this blog this weekend featuring grilled peaches and bourbon.
Start with this appetizer, offer a rich risotto for the main course, and finish with a fresh fruit tart. That’s a meal to treasure.
Grilled Lamb Chops with Glazed Shitake Mushrooms
Servings: 2 to 4
Preparation Time: 45 minutes
- ½ cup Pedro Ximenez vinegar or sherry vinegar
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for brushing
- 1 pound shitake mushrooms, stems discard and caps sliced
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 rack of lamb spareribs (about 1 pound) cut into individual ribs
In a .small saucepan, simmer the vinegar over moderately low heat until reduced slightly to ⅓ cup, about 5 minutes.
In a large skillet, melt the butter in the 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Add the mushrooms and cook over high heat , turning once until golden, about 5 minutes. Add 3 tablespoons of the reduced vinegar and cook over low heat until the mushrooms are nicely glazed and tender, about 3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
Light a grill or preheat the broiler. Brush the ribs with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Grill the ribs over moderate heat, turning occasionally, until light charred and cooked through, about 2 minutes a side. Brush the ribs with the remaining vinegar and grill, turning until nicely glazed about 1 more minute. Transfer the ribs to a platform and serve the mushroom alongside.
The total cooking time for a chops of different thicknesses are shown in the following table, with credit to Steven Raichlen.
[ahm-wp-tabular id=8878 template=Web2]
Sources: Food and Wine Cocktails 2012 and The Barbecue Bible by Steven Raichlen
I know, lamb is not an everyday dish. And for many it’s an acquired taste. There is, of course, the British-inspired route of having one bite of mint jelly for every bite of lamb. And then there are better paths.
At our recent course on wood oven cooking at Stone Turtle in Maine, we had leg of lamb done two ways: a traditional Greek style with olive oil and rosemary and then this yogurt-coated treat. The yogurt and overnight resting create a soft, almost silky texture to the lamb. It’s lamb like you’ve never had. No mint jelly is needed. Or even wanted.
At Stone Turtle, we cooked this in a wood oven at 500° for about 90 minutes. For the home oven, we suggest 450° for 90-120 minutes. Of course, after about 60 minutes, you’ll want to take the internal temperature with an instant read thermometer. You’re looking for 135° for lamb that is not overdone and dry. Be sure to rest the meat, tented in foil, for 20 minutes. The temperature will still rise a bit, and you’ll have a range of doneness to please every palette. If someone should ask for well done and dry, just open another bottle of wine.
Yogurt Leg of Lamb
Yield: 10 servings
- 5-6 pound semi-boneless leg of lamb
- 1 cup Yogurt (Greek style, whole milk if possible)
- 2 tablespoons fresh mint leaves, coarsely chopped
- Juice of 1 Lemon
- 1 garlic clove, finely minced
Combine all ingredients in a bowl. Rub down lamb leg and wrap in plastic wrap.
Refrigerate for 24 hours. Remove from refrigerator 1 hour before cooking. Preheat your oven to 450°F.
Unwrap and gently wipe off any excess yogurt. Rub leg with a light coating of olive oil. Place on a rack in a heavy roasting pan. Remove most traces of yogurt from the surface of the meat.
Roasting time is about 90-120 minutes hours. Check internal temperature, looking for 135° F. Do not overcook. Lamb is best when slightly pink.
Remove from oven, cover with aluminum foil and let rest 20 minutes before cutting.
Source: Meat: Stone Turtle Baking and Cooking School