Thursday, February 14, 2013

Heart to Heart--Grilled Balsamic Lamb Chops


I plan my Valentine dinners meticulously. I conceive and cook it for the man who still makes my heart beat as fast as it did thirty nine years ago. Our romance began in Romeo and Juliet style, through windows in neighboring apartments. To corroborate this my mother-in-law has a favorite story about Glenn. He was supposedly a very lazy baby, so  she connects our window encounter to that throwback from his childhood days! She says "he was too lazy to go looking for a girl and married the first one he saw outside his window!" One man's laziness is my lucky day! He is my rock, my true north, the man I will grow old with. Our story is like a well-read map, that relic of the past as my kids say, its folds full of diversions, scenic outlooks and the occasional deer-in the-headlights encounters. We know the joys of parenthood, the comfort of family and the contentment of longstanding friendships. Not to say that perfect harmony is the order of the day!  No marriage is complete without tested nerves, arguments ,exasperations and of course passion!! All these trivialities together, hallmarks of a veracious marriage. 

This year I rely on tried and tested favorites. Meat and potatoes are the mainstays. I mentally tick off meats I will not be able to roast, grill or bake. It is slim pickings. I settle on lamb chops, a recipe adapted from the Union Square Cafe Cookbook. Easy, fast and a big success in the past. Potatoes are no biggie, a mandatory side that satisfies that special taste bud. Roasted with an abundance of lemon and parsley, it has a gratifying crunch. The element of green on a plate is at my request. The plate should reflect some array of greeness, but then that is my idiosyncrasy. Some asparagus wrapped in prosciutto and roasted shredded kale.  A salad is called for. Burrata with roasted beets is an adequate first course. Burrata with anything is good. The roasted beets make a perfect foil for vinaigrette drizzled burrata. And lastly dessert. No meal  in our home is complete without a sweet something. Many items qualify under that premise. Fresh fruit, cake, ice cream, but it usually is something chocolate. Alas, Lent is upon us, and chocolate being the sacrifice of choice, I have to look for other inspiration. It is to be a fruity concoction. A rustic apple tart with apricot glaze. I get down to business.

Grilled Balsamic Lamb Chops 

Serves 4  hearty appetites or 6 petite ones

16 Lamb chops
6 tablespoons Creole mustard
4 tablespoons Garlic, minced finely
4 tablespoons Balsamic vinegar
4 tablespoons Thyme, stems removed and roughly chopped
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
1 teaspoon Pepper, ground
1/2 cup Olive oil
Canola oil spray.

Trim some fat off the lamb chops.

Combine mustard, minced garlic,balsamic vinegar, thyme, salt, pepper and olive oil in a shallow bowl.

Coat each chop well on both sides and place in a non-reactive dish. Cover with dish.

Keep chops in the fridge to marinate. Optimally the chops should marinate for 2 days. Overnight has worked out well too.

When you are ready to cook the chops, take them out of the fridge and let them sit at room temperature for an hour.

Place a grill pan on a high flame.

Spray the pan with two or three spritzes of canola oil spray.

Lay the lamb chops in an even layer. Try not to crowd them. Repeat the process till all chops are done. This might take a while, depending on the size of your grill pan.
Cook the chops 2 minutes on either side if you like them medium rare. Go to 4 minutes on each side for well done chops.

Keep the cooked ones covered with foil on a plate, in a barely warm oven (250degrees.)

Serve with potatoes and green vegetables of your choice.


 I usually buy Racks of Lamb and slice them into single chops.

I also barbeque the chops on gas grill. Grilling time is the same as in the above recipe.

The table is set. Music plays. Wine sits breathing. The doorbell rings. Pink roses await my approval . No matter where we are, the song remains the same.