Grilled Lamb Chops (Sauced)
A long way from Tipperary
Actually, not Tipperary, which is in Ireland, but New Zealand -- we here in North America and Europe are a long way from NZ. New Zealand seems to be where most of the lamb chops available in supermarkets today come from.
New Zealand is 4,000 miles (6,500 km) from Hawaii and 6,000 miles (9,700 km) from the US mainland -- and a further 3,000 miles (4,850 km) from the East Coast. It can't be much closer to Western Europe, either. Takes your breath away.
Yet these lamb chops look fresh and beautiful on the market shelves. Good enough to grill.
Yes, good enough to grill -- but it should be added that for some reason lamb chops seem made in Heaven for the grill. I can't think of any other way to cook them that compares with grilling. Oven roasting a "joint" is fine, and produces something which is greatly enjoyed on Sunday in much of the UK, but with chops it is the grill that truly beckons.
Not really secret, just common sense.
Grilled lamb chops are delicious enough to eat by themselves, hot off the grill. Maybe some sea salt and ground black pepper. But a well-crafted sauce offers something to the palate that can enhance a bite or two.
- EVOO (For EVOO, click here).
- soy sauce
- vegetable broth, not much
- a little hot sauce
- a little red wine
The olive oil provides a sturdy base, as well as a delicious accent, to the sauce. The vegetable broth and the hot sauce pique our interest, and the red wine deepens everything. We can add coarse ground black pepper at this point or at table.
We could smash a clove or two of garlic and add that also. Let's do it.
Slosh all these ingredients around in the grilling pan so they mix together. This is a sauce, not truly a marinade. We want to preserve the original taste of the meat unaltered, but at the same time offer something that adds a grace note to the final composition on the plate.
Let the grilling begin
The lamb chops are dipped briefly in the marinade/sauce and turned over, just to give them a light coating.
Then onto the preheated grill. We always preheat our grill, do we not? Lamb chops really look beautiful on the grill, bright and beautiful against the dark grid and flames underneath them.
Lamb chops are best rare or medium rare, particularly when we are trying to do what we are trying to do here -- preserve that delicious taste which has come from so far away (or from right next door, if we are lucky enough to find local chops on the shelves, say from Idaho or Saskatchewan or Pembrokeshire).
The metal tray containing the sauce goes on the top shelf of the grill and almost immediately starts to sizzle. Attend to that sizzle.
Depending on how cold the chops are, how hot the grill is, and how thick the chops are, time on the grill is minimal. Maybe four minutes on side 1 and three on side 2. We definitely want those attractive grill marks on the meat, however.
That marinade/sauce on the top shelf takes even less time, and should be watched carefully. Turning the pan around can help if the shelf is not absolutely level and the liquid is deeper on one side than another. Once this liquid has sizzled through and through it is ready to be taken off the grill. It has now become sauce, plain and simple.
As for the luscious smells . . . .
Star of the show
But the supporting players deserve Oscars as well.
There's that sauce, for starters.
Grill some vegetables. Baby broccoli goes especially well with lamb chops. Grill some carrots, grill some endive, grill some mushrooms -- all of them are worthy of applause.
And the grilled tomato. A star is its own right, but in this case perfectly happy to be sharing the bill with the grilled lamb chop.
The colors here are terrific and clearly add a great deal to the appeal of this wonderful dinner.
Researching lamb chops, I was surprised to find that a T-bone steak is essentially the beef equivalent of a lamb or pork chop. It's just that we confine the word "chop" to lamb and pork for some reason. Except venison -- we allow venison "chops" as well into the hallowed circle.
"Chop" appears to come from Britain in the 1600s, when chophouses competed for customers.
I also was reminded that broiling and pan-frying are two other ways lamb chops can be, and often are, prepared. Broiling, though, particularly under a flame, I consider almost a type of grilling. As for pan-frying, yes it is an alternative, and can be a good one, but I still feel that lamb chops call out for the grill. Just look at that big picture above.
Apparently, since grilling lamb chops is a bone-in form of cooking, the meat’s flavor and texture are different than if the bone were removed. There’s something in the bone. More precisely, collagen and albumen contained in the bone release gelatin, though the effect of that is much more evident when a bone-in meat is boiled and gelatin alters the liquid. In grilling, though, it’s important to note that the bone conducts and distributes heat within the meat efficiently and evenly.
Real Meal. Unlike fancy food mags, where images are hyped and food itself is secondary, all pix shown here are from a real meal, prepared and eaten by me and my friends. No throwing anything away till perfection is achieved. This is the real deal --- a Real Meal.