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Friday, December 26, 2008

I want to come clean. I think I have a problem...

OK, so I have come to grips with this. They say admitting you have a problem is the hardest part. I tried to hide it from my family and friends, but I don't think I can keep living a lie. I have a problem. I am woefully and hopelessly addicted. There is nothing I can do. I'm ready to come clean.

I have a lamb problem....

I will be doing lamb again tonight. Not the french cut rib racks this time. This time I'm doing some nice meaty lamb chops. I got a great package of eight fat lamb chops that I split into two sets of four. One set I will do tonight, the other I put in the freezer. I applied the same marinade to both.

First let's get a look at these bad boys. As usual the celly is there for reference:

I used the same pesto I used the last time I did the rib racks but with a little twist this time:

And that twist is rosemary:

Rosemary is the perfect herb for lamb. It's like Pastrami and Rye. Peanut Butter and Jelly. Prime Rib and Horsey Sauce, Bacon and Eggs. The flavors just go so well together.

A little about rosemary. I grow a rosemary plant year round. Outside in the warm months, inside in front of a window in the cold months. Rosemary is extremely drought tolerant and likes rocky soil so no fertilizer is recommended. What does all that mean? It means if you water this thing, maybe once a month you can have fresh rosemary all year long.

One thing with rosemary grown at home as opposed to what you buy at the store is that you may get some woody branches. The stuff in the store is all new growth and can just be rough chopped stems and all. You have to be a little more careful with the stuff you grow at home. Here is a sprig of new growth:

And here is a sprig of woody growth:

Peal the leaves off both and here is that the stems look like:

The top one will be noticeably hard even after cooking it if it were diced up and added to the marinade. The bottom one would be fine if it were chopped and added to a marinade and cooked.

So I stripped the leaves off the woody branches and had a nice pile of rosemary:

And a few seconds with a Santoku and my rosemary is now just beyond a rough chop and ready for the marinade:

I basically split the chopped rosemary into four amounts. Two amounts were larger than the other two. The two larger amounts went into the bag with the chops I will grill the next day. And the other two amounts go into the bag going into the freezer. Why two amounts each? One for each side of the chops in the bag. Why two different size amounts? The ones going into the freezer will incur more rosemary flavor due to a longer time in the marinade than the ones being cooked 24 hours later.

Here we have the two bags. One destined for my grill in 24 hours or so and one heading to the bitter chill of my freezer:

And since I have not actually grilled them yet, you will have to wait till tomorrow for the rest of the write up.

I will say this though, I will be trying to use my newest grill gadget tonight, just not sure if it will work on lamb chops. It really needs a larger cut of meat but I will try anyway. A little tease as to what it is. My wife heard about it and said, "that is the most obnoxious, useless and ridiculous thing I have ever heard of. My husband will love it!!!"

1/2/2009 - Sorry I have neglected this post for so long. One word - Holidays.

I teased my latest grill gadget in the first half of the post. It's not going to be as exciting as I previously thought. It will be really cool in the future, it just didn't work all that well with the lamb chops. That grill gadget is this:

What is that? It's a branding iron with my initials:

Yes, the GrillinFool's initials are SGT. Seems more like a rank than initials, but they're the only ones I've got. Two problems with the branding iron. First, the chops just aren't big enough for me to get the initials branded well. The chops are basically mini porterhouse steaks which have the bone running down the middle which made it hard to find enough meat to get a good brand. Here is about the best I got and I tried it on two different chops:

Second, having never used a branding iron before I had no idea how long it took for the iron to get hot, so by the time it was hot I had over cooked my lamb just a bit. The lamb was medium rather than rare to medium rare. It was still really good, just a little overdone for my taste.

Well, back to the process. After 24 hours in the marinade I pulled the chops and put them on a plate to let them come up to room temp:

And the the beverage to accompany this meal is not wine but Sam Dark:

I love this beer. Not extremely thick and dark like a Guiness or Murpheys stouts but still packed with a lot of great flavor.

Evidently when I used this pesto with the rib rack I removed a lot of it before putting it on the grill. For these I just threw some coarse salt on each side and threw them on the heat. See, that pesto is really flamable. I wasn't looking for a really intense sear like I do with steaks for a couple of reasons. One, the chops may be big in terms of lamb chops but much smaller than a steak and searing them that much would make it hard to keep them medium rare. Second, branding my initials won't look as cool if the chops had a dark crust. So here they are searing:

And here we have them resting. If you look close you can see a couple attempts at branding the chops here:

And here we have the money shot. Like I said not as rare as I normally cook them but they were still really juicy and delicious:

Things I would do to improve these lamb chops:
  1. Remove a lot of the marinade before throwing them on the grill.
  2. Not try to use the branding iron on such small cuts but you know how it is when you get a new toy!! Gotta play with it right away.

One more thing about lamb as I think I will put lamb to rest for a while, at least on this site. Of course I will continue to grill it but I think I have gone a little overboard here for a while. Between lamb chops and the rib racks...Rib racks win hands down. The meat is more flavorful and, this may seem to be a non issue to some, but to get all the meat off the chops requires a lot of work. The meat that is up against the middle bone at the top of the chop (where the bone forms a T) can really only be removed with your fingers if you want to get all of it. In the end it is a huge mess. Sure, I used my fingers when eating the rib racks, but I never touched the meat, just that beautifully designed bone handle!!

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