Don’t Be Afraid of the Fire!

Grilling is a great summer pastime.  What I think is funny is that there are a lot of folks who grill, but who seem to have an aversion to open flame.  Squirt bottles, grills that promise no flare ups, and lots of other gadgets have been created, essentially to keep a grill from being a grill.  Here’s a little secret, the grill’s secret to great flavor, caramelization, is high heat.  In a high heat situation your grill will create fire.  Fire, in and of itself isn’t bad.  Don’t panic.  Just know your foods well (the higher the fat content the better your food will respond to a little flame) and make sure you don’t ever leave the grill for too long.

These marinaded lamb chops are perfect for a little fire and a very hot grill. Keep an eye on them or you will quickly have lamb charcoal!

Last night I made a family favorite, Lamb Chops or as we call them, Lamb Lollipops.  We buy the lamb by the rack from Costco.  Two racks feeds my family of four – but we’re lamb piggies.  Their lamb, like all of their meats, is tender and excellent.  I make a simple marinade of Balsamic, Worcestershire, Dijon, Italian Herbs (dried) and olive oil.  I’ll give you the recipe in a second.  Before I put the lamb on the grill I make sure the temperature (from the external gauge) is right around 500 degrees.  When I put the lamb on the grill I know it will flare up.  I want it to.  This makes me happy.  I am Og, the fire eating caveman.  Perhaps its a return to my man roots.  Bones, Meat and Fire!  Yum!

Sorry – digression there.

Brushing a little of the reserved (unused) marinade on the lamb makes a great final touch. Brushing some of the used marinade on the lamb makes you sick. (that’s bad).

I turn the chops about 3 minutes after I put them on the grill and they’ll be done about 3 minutes after that (to medium rare – which any real lamb aficionado will tell you is the only temperature at which lamb should be served.)  Alongside of the lamb, another family favorite is grilled Asparagus.  I just toss this in a little olive oil and balsamic vinegar and then toss it right on the grill.  If you cook the lamb first you can cook the Asparagus while the lamb is resting.  While my inner Og isn’t so sure about the vegetable, my metro 20th century male mind is very proud of myself for making a healthy vegetable side dish.  A little salt and pepper and they’re ready to serve.

Ready in about five minutes, grilled asparagus is a great accompaniment to the lamb.

Lamb marinade:

  • Two heaping tablespoons dijon mustard
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar (cooking grade)
  • 1/3 cup worcestershire (Yay!  I spelled that right on the first try!)
  • 1 Tablespoon minced garlic (right out of the jar)
  • 1 tsp dried Italian Herb mix – I prefer Spice Islands blend.
  • 1/2 to 3/4 cup non extra virgin olive oil

Set aside about 3/4 cup of the completed marinade to baste on lamb as it finishes cooking.

In a medium sized mixing bowl mix the four first ingredients together.  While whisking, drizzle in olive oil in a slow and steady stream to create an emulsion.  (essentially to combine the olive oil and the other ingredients in a way that they won’t separate.  Watch Alton Brown on the food network if you want to know how this works).

Cut lamb apart along the ribs and lay out on a sheet of foil.  Season liberally with salt and pepper, patting the spices into the lamb.  In a mixing bowl or Pyrex baking dish, marinade the ribs separately for 30 minutes to 2 hours.  (Do not use a gallon sized zip lock as the lamb bones are prone to pierce these and you don’t want marinade and lamb juice all over your fridge.)

Heat your grill to 500 degrees and quickly distributed chops on the grill.  Flame may (hopefully) occur.  (most of this will initially be the olive oil in the marinade, but this will quickly start to melt the fat in the lamb chops).  Keep an eye on the chops.  Yellow fire is good.  Red fire is getting too hot.  Using a pair of long tongs (I prefer OSO Good Grips) turn chops after about 3 minutes, redistributing as necessary since any grill has warmer and cooler sections.  The more heat and flame your lamb is exposed to the more the fat will render and the more flavor you will experience when you eat them.  Yum.

For Asparagus.

Two grocery store bunches of Asparagus is good for a family of four.  I break off one of the stalks to see where it becomes tender. (Consult any of a million cookbooks on the topic).  Then I cut all of the rest of the stocks to that length.  If I’m having company I may use a vegetable peeler to peel the asparagus and I may not.  It depends on how much I like my guests.  Once they’re cut I just put them in a big mixing bowl and toss with some balsamic (cooking grade), olive oil – EV or not doesn’t matter, and salt and pepper.  When the lamb comes off of the grill I toss these on the grill.  Flame may happen.  This is good.  Make sure you put the asparagus on the grill across the grates or it will all fall through.  Don’t laugh.  I’ve seen this happen.  (right in front of me as it were).  Turn the asparagus after about two minutes and then turn again.  Taste one for doneness.  I take them off the grill while they’re still a little underdone.  They’re so hot that they will continue cooking.

Serve and Enjoy.  (leave your club outside).

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