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Friday, June 27, 2014

Grilled Lamb Chops 
With Fresh Cherry-Plum Salsa, 
Steamed Spinach, & Cilantro Rice Pilaf
We love barbecuing and grilling. I have a very heavy duty iron grilling pan. It's great for toasting buns for burgers and dogs, vegetables and fruits, and of course all types of meats and seafood. One of it's great features is that it's usable on the stove top. It makes foolproof grilling possible by the simple fact that you can watch it up close.
I get the pan super hot then generously spray it with non-stick cooking spray. Only then should you add what you are going to grill, as the super hot pan then gives great grill marks.

 Below are just a couple examples: grilled bread and grilled d'Anjou pears. 


I am sure that everything can be grilled! There might be some small adjustments needed for certain types of foods such as maybe lining the pan with a flat piece of foil, to catch and hold small or tricky foods like pea pods. Or you can use skewers to keep foods intact. Either way, be inventive and just do it. And of course have fun with it!

As I was shopping in Costco a few days ago I (of course!) picked up one of their fabulous deli chickens. Sometimes I can't wait to get it home 'cuz the savory fragrance is so overwhelming to the senses, so I pull off a leg and knosh on it right at the car! Okay, okay, two legs. It's probably a good thing that it only comes with two. So, anyway, as I was shopping I perused the meat and fish counters, just checking to see what was special that day and then...(insert triumphant-trumpet music here)... I spied the loin lamb chops. 
Glory Hallelujah! 
They literally beckoned me to buy them. I was so transfixed at the array of packages I totally blocked out everything else. My left hand held one coveted package while the right hand continued to "shop". I decided on the coveted package as it was so fresh looking. They looked like miniature fat T-bone steaks! These are always packaged in 8 chops at Costco, and they are from Australia. I'd also like to mention here that Trader Joe's carries Australian lamb chops in their freezer section that are also excellent.

When I returned home the dinner choices announced were, burgers, deli chicken (sans two legs), and grilled lamb chops. Lamb chops it was! I was so excited! If they only knew! I of course was just calm and stoic on the outside, but inside? I was having a raging happy-lamb chops-to me party!

I had recently made the Edamame Salad With Fresh Ginger Vinaigrette (a previous post from my blog from a couple weeks ago) and had retained the leftover dressing, since there isn't any animal product in it I could use it again. (Actually if truth be told, it's so blasted tasty that i've been known to just drink it when the salad is all gone! And that my friends is most likely the underlying hereditary issue for the reason that Candice drinks pickle juice when she's pregnant. Snicker!)  But this time I decided that it would be a great base for a quick marinade for the chops. So I quickly placed the marinade into a baking dish (before I changed my mind and drank it), and placed the chops in after it. Aren't they pretty?!
(Do you see the silver skin on the front right chop's left side? I did remove that from all four chops as it would be a very tough area to eat and just might curl the chop while cooking.) 

I let the chops marinate, turning it on all four sides during about a 45 minute time frame. I then started the rice pilaf and placed the spinach into the steamer pot. I took out about 1/2 pound of very fresh cherries, set up the pitter and pitted them all, (of course I needed to taste a few for confirmation of said freshness.) Next I rough chopped all of the cherries, a shallot and a plum, placing about some of this mixture into a measuring cup, and the rest into a bowl for the salsa.
So, come read along and join us for juicy, flavorful lamb chops and their accompanying delicious side dishes.

Grilled Lamb Chops With Fresh Cherry-Plum Salsa, Steamed Spinach and Cilantro Rice Pilaf

Serves 4

Special Equipment Needed:
Stove and oven safe grill pan (a panini pan works too)
Dutch oven/stock pot
Steamer basket or steamer insert

Ginger vinaigrette:  for the marinade, can be room temperature   
which is from a previous post of  Edamame Salad With Fresh Ginger Vinaigrette  

2 Tablespoons rice wine vinegar (white vinegar may be substituted=sharper taste)
2 Tablespoons Tamari sauce (sodium reduced gluten free soy sauce)
2 Tablespoons chopped fresh ginger root, about a 1-1/2 inch nub, peeled
2 Tablespoons spring onions, rough chop
1-2 ounces pickled sushi ginger, rough chop
2 Tablespoons sesame oil
2-3 Tablespoons honey or agave
1/2 teaspoons fresh ground pepper
1/4 grape seed or olive oil

salt to taste - be careful because there's already a good amount of sodium from other sources
Optional:
2 fresh garlic cloves, smashed

To make the dressing: Place the first 8 dressing ingredients into a blender, Ninja, or small food processor and whiz on high until all food bits are finely minced. In a very slow and steady stream, add the oil and whisk quickly to make an emulsion. 

Dinner Ingredients:

Chops:  
4 chops for smaller portions @ 1 each, or 8 chops for two each (OF)  loin lamb chops
1 recipe of the Ginger Vinaigrette
2+ teaspoons Lawry's Seasoned Salt
2 Tablespoon fresh chopped chives

Cilantro Rice Pilaf:
1 cup rice for 4 portions
2 Tablespoons EVOO
2 Tablespoons butter
2 cups chicken broth or stock
1 teaspoon Kosher salt *if using table salt cut amount in half
1 or 2 cubes dried cilantro by Knorr
or 
2-3 Tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
2-3 teaspoons dried parsley
or
2-3 Tablespoons fresh parsley
1 small shallot or a small sweet onion such as vidalia or maui, finely chopped
Cherry-Plum Salsa:
1/2 lb. fresh cherries, pitted, and roughly chopped
1-2 plums, roughly chopped
1/2 - 1 whole shallot, finely chopped
all of the reserved marinade from the chops - this will be cooked so don't worry!

Fresh Spinach:
4-6 bundles or bags of fresh spinach, it seems like too much, but it cooks way, way down
water to steam with
melted butter
salt and pepper to taste

Methods:

First method instructions:  following these directions is essential to having everything come together in the end all at the same time for serving and eating.

Chops:

1. First, slide a very sharp knife under the silver skin, grab it with your fingers and slice under it to cut it off and discard it. Place the marinade into a shallow baking dish and lay chops on top. Loosely cover with plastic wrap and set aside. Every 10 minutes or so, flip the chops to a new side to be marinated.

Cilantro Rice Pilaf:
1. Heat a heavy duty (iron) frying pan for about 3-4 minutes on high heat. Flicking water into the hot pan should instantaneously evaporate the water, then you know your heavy pan is ready. Turn the heat down to medium, then add the oil. When the oil shimmers, add the butter and stir within the EVOO circle-this protects and allows the butter to heat and cook at a higher temperature. When the butter is melted immediately add the rice and sauté until golden brown. 
Add the cilantro, parsley and the salt to this mixture, stir for about 30 seconds or so. Add the shallots closer to the end of this step and just kind of sweat them within the toasted rice.
2.  Add the chicken broth/stock slowly and carefully to the hot rice, stir well. Bring all to a full boil, then turn your heat down to the absolute lowest setting (mine would be OFF if any lower!), put on the lid and simmer for 12-15 minutes. I use a glass lid so I can watch the rice cooking. Scorched rice is nasty. You can of course use a rice cooker/steamer.

Cherry-Plum Salsa and Sauce:
1. Pit the cherries and roughly chop. Roughly chop the plum(s), and separately chop the shallot.
2. Place the shallots into a microwavable cup with about a Tablespoon of water and cook them about 45 seconds or so. You are just taking the rawness out of them by sweating them slightly. You can of course skip this step if you like them raw. Mix the fruit and shallots together in a small bowl. 
3. Add 2 Tablespoons of the chopped fruit and shallot mix to the marinade in a microwavable bowl and cook for about 1 1/2 minutes on medium. Use a fork and smash the fruit into the sauce. Set aside. 

4. Now you have a container of sauce, and a container of salsa - just to clarify things. : }

Spinach:
1. Place your steamer basket or insert into a dutch oven or stock pot. Fill with water JUST to the bottom of the holes. Fill the stock pot with the spinach. Place the lid on leaving a gap. Set aside.       DO NOT STEAM YET.

Second Method Instructions:

Chops: Lamb loin chops are really meant to be eaten rare to medium rare, so these instructions are to reach those results. You can of course cook them longer.

2. Turn the grill pan on high-heat, and water test it like the pan for the rice. This pan must be smokin' hot in order to obtain beautiful grill marks. When sufficiently hot generously spray with the nonstick spray. Grasp a chop with tongs and tap excess liquid off back into the dish, then lay the chops onto the hot pan and sprinkle the tops with half of the seasoned salt, reserve the rest for the other side. 

3. Grill the chops for 8-10 minutes, flip and season and cook for another 8-10 minutes.

Rice:
3. Check the rice for doneness. Even if you see a small amount of liquid left, turn it off, keep it covered. It will be great by the time you serve.

Salsa and Sauce:
5. They're done already - yea!

Spinach:
2. Turn the spinach on medium high, leave the lid gapped and steam for about 6-8 minutes. Using tongs, lift, turn, and separate the spinach-allowing all of it to be steamed. It should JUST be barely cooked with some structure still there. 
3. Turn the heat off and make the lid gap smaller. You want some heat/steam to escape, and some to keep it warm.
4. Melt the butter in the microwave.

Third and Final Method Instructions:

Chops:
4. While you are plating the rest of the food, flip the chops up onto the remaining three sides which includes the bone end and grill 3-4 minutes each side. This step completes the grilled look and is just absolutely beautiful when presented.
5. When chops are done plate them on each plate or a platter. Sprinkle with fresh chopped chives.

Rice:
4. Scoop rice onto each plate or into a medium large bowl with lid.

Sauce and Salsa:
6. Ladle some of the sauce over each chop.
7. Place a scoop of salsa right next to the chop if on individual plates. If on a platter, serve the salsa in a separate bowl to pass.

Spinach:
5. Using tongs, grasp a mound of spinach and lay next to the rice or chop. Drizzle melted butter over the top. Offer salt and pepper for individual taste.


 Hallelujah! You Are Ready To Eat!!!

Enjoy!