August 19, 2011
Recently I picked up several packages of wonderful-looking lamb loin chops. Along with rib chops, loin chops are probably the most delicious part of a lamb, with a meaty flavor and steak-like texture. They aren't as tough as some other cuts, so they don't take a long time to cook, but they are surrounded thick fat that tends to give off a lot of smoke if they are broiled, baked or sauteed. Together, those qualities make grilling the cooking method of choice for lamb loin chops.
Because of their excellent flavor - think prime steak - loin chops don't really require a lot of seasoning to be quite tasty. I went really simple: I combined some olive oil, some minced garlic and some chopped fresh rosemary, brushed that on both sides of the chops then sprinkled them liberally with salt and pepper. After letting them sit at room temperature for about a half-hour, I tossed them on the grill, which was prepared for a two-level fire. I cooked them for a few minutes on the hot side of the grill to lightly brown them and give them nice grill marks, then moved them to the cooler side to finish cooking without becoming overdone on the outside.
The results were exceptional. Tender, juicy, medium-rare lamb, nicely seared on the outside and seasoned to enhance the meaty flavor without overwhelming it. Juli thought this was the best-tasting lamb she'd ever had. I'm not sure I'd go that far, but it was certainly high up on the list.
Lamb loin chops aren't cheap, but if you use this recipe and grill them, I think you'll find them well worth the price.
Grilled Garlic-Rosemary Lamb Chops
yield = 2 servings
4 lamb loin chops, about 1 1/4 inch thick
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon minced fresh rosemary leaves
1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
kosher salt and freshly-ground black pepper, to taste
Combine olive oil, rosemary and garlic in a small bowl. Brush the olive oil mixture on both sides of the lamb chops, then sprinkle both sides with pepper and kosher salt. Cover with plastic wrap and allow the chops to marinate for 30 minutes (or up to 3 hrs, if refrigerated). Meanwhile, prepare grill for two-level grilling.
When the grill is ready, arrange the chops on the hot (direct heat) part of the grill. Grill 2 minutes per side, then transfer the chops to the cool side of the grill (indirect heat). Cook for 6-7 minutes, turning once. Remove the chops from the grill. Cover with foil and let rest 5 minutes, then serve.