Inspired to mix it up this Thanksgiving, and having a recipe on my mind that I have been wanting to try, I decided to forgo the turkey and selected a rack of lamb for a small friends Thanksgiving. Mind you, this entrée would be ideal for any dinner party occasion. With 6-8 lamb chops per rack, you are set to impress and satiated the palette of your guests.
Working with Ina Garten’s recipe for Moroccan grilled lamb chops from her new cookbook (Cooking with Jeffrey), while not on the grill, these chops were full of flavor after having been marinated for nearly 18 hours. And the couscous upon which they are laid; I took some liberties here and substituted pearl couscous (also known as ptitim) to add a different texture and optical intrigue.
Once everything is prepared and ready to serve, open a bottle of Beaujoulais. I have become quite fond of this varietal, as it reminds me a bit of a pinot noir with lower tannins and offering immense subtle, yet satiating flavor. The beaujolais wine region is located just north of Lyon, and the wine is made from the Gamay grape. Talk to your local wine shop owner, and I have a feeling, if yours is like mine, they will recommend a wonderful bottle to enjoy at a very reasonable price.
~The side dish seen above is another take on one of my favorite Brussels sprout recipes originally inspired by the Barefoot Contessa. Click here to see the recipe for Sauteed Shredded Brussels Sprouts with Pancetta.
Moroccan Lamb Chops
~begin the day before or the morning of the dinner
- 6 large garlic cloves
- 1/3 cup julienned fresh mint leaves
- 1 1/2 tablespoons ground turmeric
- 1 tablespoon whole coriander seeds
- 1 tablespoon ground cumin
- 1 tablespoon grated lemon zest (2 lemons)
- Kosher salt
- 5 tablespoons good olive oil, plus extra for the grill
- 1 rack of lamb (6 to 7 ribs each), cut into chops
- 1 1/2 cups plain whole-milk Greek yogurt (12 ounces)
- 1 1/2 teaspoons Sriracha
- 3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
- Place the garlic, mint, turmeric, coriander, cumin, lemon zest, and 2 1/2 teaspoons salt in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade and process until finely ground. Add the olive oil and pulse to combine.
- Place the chops in one or two non-metal dishes large enough to hold them in one layer. Spread the garlic and herb mixture evenly on both sides. In a small bowl, whisk together the yogurt, Sriracha, and lemon juice, and spread it evenly on the lamb chops. Cover, refrigerate, and allow to marinate for 6 to 24 hours.
- Over a hot grill inside or out, or in a skillet, drizzle a little olive oil to prevent sticking. Sprinkle the lamb with salt and grill 5 to 6 inches above the coals, first with the yogurt side up (marinade and all) for 4 to 5 minutes, then turn and grill for 3 to 4 minutes, until medium rare. Transfer to a clean plate, cover the plate tightly with aluminum foil, and allow to rest for 10 minutes. Sprinkle with salt and serve hot with the couscous.
Pearl Couscous with Peas, Mint and Pine Nuts
yields: 6-8 people
make just before putting the lamb chops on the grill or in the skillet (15-25 minutes)
- 2 tablespoons good olive oil
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- 1 cup chopped yellow onion
- 3 cups chicken stock, homemade if possible
- 1 3/4 cups pearl couscous
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1/2 cup julienned fresh mint leaves, loosely packed
- 1/2 cup frozen peas
- 1/3 cup pine nuts, toasted (in a sauté pan over low heat, toast for 7-10 minutes, stirring or tossing throughout)
- Heat the oil and butter in a large saucepan over medium heat.
- Add the onion and cook over medium-low heat for 6 to 8 minutes, stirring occasionally, until tender but not browned.
- Add the stock and bring to a boil.
- Stir in the couscous, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper and remove from the heat.
- Cover the pot tightly and allow the couscous to steam for 10 minutes.
- Fluff the couscous with a fork and stir in the mint, peas and pine nuts.
- Taste for seasonings and add about 1 teaspoon salt depending upon taste, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Serve hot.
~See more recipes for dinner here.