Monday, December 1, 2008
One of my favorite meats, and maybe my fave, is lamb, particularly French Cut Lamb Chops. Something about the succulent meat with the little bone handle that I just love. Maybe I love it because I don't get it nearly as often as I get steak or ribs, but this is one of my favorite things to cook.
I bought a double pack of racks from Sam's and decided to do them with two different marinades:
The first was inspired by an appetizer at a family party on the day after thanksgiving. There was a bowl of basil pesto next to a bowl of crusty bread. I enjoyed the pesto so much I used it. I was contemplating using this after a suggestion from scottq16 (actual name unknown) but after eating some of the bread in the Pesto I was sold. I didn't have any fresh basil so I used dried basil, marjoram, thyme, oregano, and some fresh rosemary in olive oil. Of course I added some minced garlic and white pepper (I'm out of black pepper corns):
Here we have the pesto whisked up:
For the other marinade I went even easier. Honey mustard, fresh rosemary, garlic, white pepper, and a little red wine:
Quick note on the red wine I use in my marinades. First rule about wine in cooking - if you won't drink it, don't cook with it. Cooking sherry or cooking wine on the shelf at the grocery store should never be used in cooking. Red truck is by no means the greatest wine out there, but is nice $10 wine. And in this case it may not even be red truck in the bottle. Whenever I don't finish a bottle of red, if there isn't enough left to put the vacuum pump on to to pull the air out and save for a couple of weeks in the fridge, I pour it into this bottle in the fridge specifically for marinading...
Back to the marinade. The marinade itself does not look all that appetizing in the picture but trust me it was money:
I threw each rack into a ziplock with one of the two marinades and into the fridge for close to 24 hours:
The next day I pulled the racks out of the bags. For the mustard marinade I used the bag to pull some of it off so that when I added salt right before cooking it would actually contact the meat. I didn't want to rinse off the marinade but I didn't want it on as thick as it was. The Pesto marinade was oil based so I didn't have the same issue with that rack.
When I pulled the rack out that was in the pesto marinade it smelled so good I could've eaten it raw!?!?! It was incredible. I can almost smell it right now it was that memorable!?!
I sprinkled some coarse salt on both sides before putting on the grill as usual.
For the cooking method I did my standard two zone cooking. Hot coals on one side, no coals on the other side. I grilled them over high heat (no flame job this time like I do with steaks). Here we have them meat side down to start. One was thicker than the other so I put that on a little before the other one but here they are together on the grill:
Then I flipped them and put them bone side down once they got a decent sear:
The one on the bottom left is the mustard marinade. It is going to char more than the other due to the honey in the mustard. Don't let that scare you.
If you notice I kept the bones away from the heat and the thicker meaty section over the hottest part of the fire. I didn't want to overcook the skinnier section of meat higher up the rack.
Once they seared well on each side I pulled them to the side with no heat. They were still incredibly rare at this point. I locked down the grill and left them to bake for 5 minutes:
After 5 minutes they were still incredibly rare so I left them on for another 5 minutes. Had this been a warm summer evening and not a chilly windy evening in late November I would guess that 6-7 minutes would be all that was necessary. In this case they baked for just over 10 minutes before I pulled them off the grill to rest:
I let them rest for about 4 minutes. I basically treated them like a steak. The thickest part was more than an inch thick and with a steak that thick I would've rested it about that long as well. Here they are plated, 4 chops from each type:
A couple of notes. First, I tried to accommodate for one of the racks being thinner than the other, but the thinner cooked a little faster than I had planned as you can see with the chops on the right not being as red. That being said both were very tender and juicy. I guess that is part of the allure of the lamb.
Second, despite letting them rest the juice of the lamb leaked all over the place. I mean everywhere yet the meat was still very juicy on the last bone as it was on the first. And as you can see I ate every last bone. Notice the juice all over the cutting board, even filling part of the groove that encircles the board:
And finally, I will say that after a very extensive taste test between the two that I enjoyed immensely the mustard marinade was the better marinade but just slightly so. Something about the sweetness of the rosemary and the subtle sweetness of the honey mustard made the lamb just incredible. I may be doing this again next weekend!?!?!