I feel that I should state for the record that lamb night should be considered a smashing success because my mom (who’s phobia of lamb just about matched my own due to a bad lamb experience when she was a child) found the chops delicious!
My brother in law also told me they were the best lamb he’d ever had (of course, they were the only lamb he’d ever had but I think I’ll go ahead and take that compliment!)
And the lip-smacking, bone gnawing silence from the rest of the family, followed by the large mounds of naked bones on their plates, was enough affirmation for me that the recipe was a success!
So, without further ado, Lemon and Mint Lamb Rib Chops!
6 pounds of lamb will probably be enough to feed eight to ten people with fairly large appetites. Have them sliced (or slice them yourself) into single rib chops (they’ll be about 1/2” to ¾” thick).
Keep the lamb refrigerated while you prepare the marinade.
Slice two or three lemons very thinly. Mince the cloves from a head (that’s right…a whole head!) of garlic. Roughly chop the leaves from several stems of mint (you’ll end up with about a cup of chopped mint).
Toss the lamb with the lemons, garlic and mint and drizzle everything with olive oil. Salt it all generously, cover and chill for a few hours (2-3) but allow to sit out at room temperature for about an hour before you start grilling.
Preheat your grill to high heat.
Incidentally, this was my first experience using a charcoal grill. We bought ourselves a brand new charcoal chimney starter for the event, and it was probably the greatest gadget I have ever invested in! For grilling, anyways.
You start by wadding up two sheets of newspaper and stuffing them into the bottom of the chimney, then fill the top with charcoal. Set the chimney into the bottom of your grill (take the grill rack out first), light the newspaper, and let everything heat up!
We left the grill uncovered for this part. There were no instructions with the chimney that specified otherwise. The charcoal heated up and was ready in about half the time it would take if you didn’t use the chimney, and there wasn’t any of that residual lighter fluid flavor you can get by lighting your grill the lighter fluid way!
When the charcoal is red hot and has a thin layer of ash covering it, remove the chimney from the grill and dump all the charcoal into the bottom. Replace the grill rack and let it heat up. Now you are ready to get cookin’!
(My sister has all these toads hopping around her yard. Big ones, little ones, medium size ones…aren’t they cute? I just love toads.)
Spread all the lamb and lemons out in a single layer on the grill and cook for about 3 minutes per side for rare to medium rare. You want a good charred outer layer on each chop, but still pink or red in the middle.
Over cooked lamb is a travesty.
Or so they tell me.
We had to remove the chops from the center of the grill and move the outer chops inward to cook everything evenly. Flip ’em when they get a good, caramelized crust of charred goodness!
When the chops are all cooked and the lemons are browned, remove them to a platter and dig in!
We served them up with Minty Feta Quinoa (recipe to follow), homemade tzaziki sauce (http://phobicfoodie.com/2011/04/25/greek-pitas/), big, crunchy salads (my sister makes this amazing, old fashioned carrot, apple and raisin salad with walnuts. Soooo wonderful and refreshing!) and delicious iced tea.
The lamb should have those lovely, crispy, charred edges and juicy tender insides. Use the grilled lemon slices to squeeze a few extra drops of tanginess onto each chop before eating it. And, the magic of mint with lamb is that the more mint there is, the less you notice the taste of the lamb.
So, here’s the recipe for Lemon and Mint Lamb Chops! Try them and tell me what you think!
Lemon and Mint Lamb Chops
6 lb. single rib lamb chops (1 bone per chop)
3 lemons, thinly sliced
1 head garlic, cloves separated, peeled and minced
1 c. roughly chopped mint leaves
½ c. olive oil
Salt and Pepper
Mix the lemons, garlic, mint, olive oil, and salt and pepper together and toss with the rib chops. Marinate in the fridge for a couple of hours, then let sit at room temp for an hour before cooking.
Heat your grill to high heat. When it is very hot, spread the lamb and lemon slices out in a single layer on it. Cook the chops for about 3 minutes per side for rare to medium rare. Serve with the lemon slices and freshly made tzaziki sauce.
Eat and be happy!