Jan Norris: Food and Florida

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Moose on Fire: Lamb Overlooked over the Coals

April 28th, 2009 · 2 Comments

By Debbie Moose

Columnist

Debbie Moose

Debbie Moose: A Gal and Her Grill

 

Lamb is often overlooked as a candidate for the grill – that’s so unfair! It cooks quickly, has a great flavor when cooked over fire (think beautiful Greek island) and will please the red-meat lovers in your crowd when you want a change from beef. While the price may deter some folks, you can generally find some deals on lamb in the spring.

 Then there are people like my mother, who disliked lamb because it has what she called “the wild flavor.” I think she was talking about the slightly strong taste lamb sometimes has – not overwhelming, but it definitely doesn’t taste like beef. For me, her description was an irresistible lure. I’ve been looking for “the wild flavor” ever since.

 There’s so much you can do with lamb. Roast a classic rack of lamb, rubbed with herbs and a little Dijon mustard, over indirect heat. Use ground lamb to rev up the ol’ burgers by mixing it in with the beef or substituting it altogether – you could even stuff your lamb-burgers with feta cheese before grilling.

Keeping it simple

 I like to keep things simple with chops, and let “the wild flavor” come through. I have paid homage to the classic mint jelly by using mint-flavored vinegar for the marinade, but my source for that has dried up. (If my mint does well this summer, I’ll make my own mint vinegar.) Use any good herb-flavored vinegar – go for Italian or Greek herbs. The tender chops don’t require a long marinating time and cook fast on the grill.

Grilled Marinated Lamb Chops

  • 1/2 cup mint-flavored or other herb-flavored vinegar
  • 1 cup olive oil
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • 8 lamb rib chops (each about 1 inch thick)

 Combine the vinegar, olive oil, black pepper and salt in a bowl and whisk to combine. Add the garlic clove and stir. Place the lamb chops in a large resealable plastic bag and pour the vinaigrette over them. Seal the bag and marinate the chops in the refrigerator for about 1 hour.

 Prepare a charcoal or gas grill for direct cooking. Remove the lamb chops from the marinade and discard the marinade. Grill the chops, turning once, until medium-rare (145 degrees on an instant-read meat thermometer) or medium (160 degrees). Let rest 4 or 5 minutes, covered with foil to keep warm, before serving.

 Serves 4

 Note: If you would like to use the vinaigrette as a sauce, double the amount and reserve half. Do not reuse marinade which has held raw meat.

 Hot Tip of the Week: There’s a fine line between nicely grilled and incinerated. Be alert for flare-ups when cooking meats or vegetables that have been marinated or rubbed in olive oil. Let as much of the oil or marinade as possible drip off before putting the items on the grill, and be ready to adjust your grill’s airflow to cut off any flames.

 Debbie Moose, a food writer and cookbook author from Raleigh, NC, writes twice a month here about cooking outdoors. Check out her cookbooks: Potato Salad: 65 Recipes from Classic to Cool; Wings: More Than 50 High-Flying Recipes for America’s Favorite Snack; Fan Fare: A Playbook of Great Recipes for Tailgating or Watching the Game at Home; and Deviled Eggs: 50 Recipes from Simple to Sassy. Find out what else Debbie is cooking on her blog, Moose Munchies, at her web site, www.debbiemoose.com.

Tags: Moose on Fire: A Gal and a Grill · Recipes: What's Cooking!

2 responses so far ↓

  • 1 GPrimm // Apr 29, 2009 at 10:17 am

    THANKS for pushing lamb. I agree that folks don’t know what they’re missing. It’s often cheaper than beef and has more flavor.

    I love to butterfly a leg of lamb and cut it into serving size portions, marinate them in rosemary, garlic and olive oil, then grill them like steaks. Very quick. Very tasty.

    On the “wild flavor,” I read that there’s a difference between the taste of U.S. lamb vs. New Zealand lamb because of what they’re fed: our lamb is raised for food and theirs is raised mainly for wool. Comments?

  • 2 Ben // Apr 29, 2009 at 7:56 pm

    I have not always been a big fan of lamb, but just recently at a flatbread with lamb and blue cheese. A most interesting combination. The lamb was very good and rather mild in flavor.

    The best lamb I have ever eaten was at Club Collette in Palm Beach. They were roasted and seasoned with something that made them burst with flavor. Wish I knew the seasoning.

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