Lamb chops top a meal for summer

August 25, 1996|By Jimmy Schmidt | Jimmy Schmidt,KNIGHT-RIDDER NEWSPAPERS

The grill comes alive with young lamb chops rubbed with spices.

Spring lamb is known for its delicate texture, but it tends to be small. Summer lamb has more meat on the bones and a fuller flavor that stands up to the charcoal taste of the grill and a heavier rub of spices.

Lamb with the fat trimmed off is leaner than most cuts of beef. The flavor also is full of satisfaction.

When most people think of lamb chops, they are thinking of rib chops, the ones with the long, narrow bones attached.

Although the ribs are the premium cut, I prefer loin chops for the grill. Loin chops stand up to the heat of the grill better and are usually less expensive than rib chops.

Select loin chops about a half-inch thick with most of the fat trimmed. Thicker chops take longer to cook and tend to become pretty well done on the outside before the inside gets cooked.

A little seasoning beforehand will add a lot of flavor to the finished chop. Rub the lamb with a little new garlic, black pepper and a few fresh herbs such as rosemary or oregano. Many herbs and spices may be used, but select heartier varieties that won't be completely burned off by the heat of the grill. Splash with a little olive oil and allow to marinate for a couple of hours. Season with a little salt just before cooking.

Fire up the grill and establish one side or area that's hot and another area that's a little cooler.

Start cooking the lamb on the hot side until it is well seared, about 5 minutes.

Then turn over and move to the cooler side of the grill to allow the heat to penetrate the chops until they are cooked to your desired temperature.

The bounty of summer is a perfect side for the lamb chops. I love roasted eggplant, grilled zucchini and tomatoes.

This recipe is perfect for the summer grill.

Lamb loin chops with garlic and citrus

Makes 4 servings

12 lamb loin chops, about 1/2 -inch thick, trimmed

8 cloves garlic or to taste, peeled, ends removed, minced

freshly ground black pepper to taste

rind of 1 lemon, finely grated

1/4 cup fresh chopped oregano

olive oil

salt to taste

Heat the grill. For more thoroughly cooked lamb, heat one side of the grill very hot and one side a little cooler.

Rub the lamb chops on all surfaces with the garlic. Sprinkle with the black pepper, lemon rind and half of the oregano and press into the surface of the lamb. Put the chops in a baking pan, then drizzle with a little olive oil. Refrigerate and marinate at least a couple of hours.

To cook: Season the chops with salt. Place the chops on the hotter part of the grill and cook until well seared, about 5 minutes. Turn over and cook as desired. For more thoroughly cooked chops, complete cooking on cooler part of the grill.

Remove the chops from the grill. Drizzle lemon juice over the chops and dust with the remaining oregano and serve.

Per serving: 419 calories, 46 percent calories from fat, 21 grams fat. 148 milligrams cholesterol, 115 milligrams sodium, 10 grams carbohydrate, 47 grams protein.

Pub Date: 8/25/96

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