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I'm sure you'll find the results of this Chinois Marinated Grilled Lamb Chops with Cilantro-Mint Salsa recipe at once comfortingly familiar and excitingly new.
The pleasures of grilling are so enticing: the casual ease of tossing your food onto the hot grid over an open fire; the sound of sizzling juices; the fresh air mingling with the intoxicating aromas; and the incomparable flavors, especially when you've taken care to season your food imaginatively.
Last time, I encouraged you to journey beyond America's borders when grilling, and took you on a trip to Asia featuring skewers of shrimp cooked with lemongrass and ginger. This time, we'll explore Far Eastern flavors even more with a classic lamb recipe from my Asian fusion restaurant, Chinois -- Marinated Grilled Lamb Chops with Cilantro-Mint Salsa.
The term "Asian fusion" refers to combining Asian seasonings or cooking techniques with those of the West, a perfect description of what goes on in my Marinated Grilled Lamb Chops recipe here. It starts with two racks of lamb, which usually consist of seven or eight uncut rib chops each. Cooking them whole, as they would be in the classic French kitchen, rather than cutting them into individual lamb chops before cooking, helps the meat stay juicier and more flavorful and tender. Brief marinating with Asian seasonings for just an hour before cooking adds even more flavor to the end results.
After the lamb racks finish grilling (I recommend medium-rare for the juiciest results, a doneness level you can easily check with the help of an instant-read thermometer), it's important to cover the grilled lamb chops with foil and let them rest for about 10 minutes before you carve them between the bones into individual chops for serving. This resting time allows the hot juices that are bubbling away inside the meat to settle down a bit, so less of them flow out onto the carving board and more of them stay in every bite you enjoy.
While the cooked meat rests, you have the perfect amount of time to prepare the salsa that goes with it. You read that right: I wrote "salsa" to refer to the condiment for this fusion-style dish. That's because, although it features fresh herbs and spices commonly found in Asian kitchens, they are put together and presented in a way similar to Mexican salsas. In fact, this flavorful Cilantro-Mint Salsa mixture also closely resembles another Latin American condiment served with grilled foods: the popular Argentine mixture of parsley, oregano, garlic, red pepper flakes, and oil known as chimichurri.
Chinois Marinated Grilled Lamb Chops with Cilantro-Mint Salsa
Prep Time: 60 minutes
Cook time: 25 minutes
Yield: Serves 4
Chinois Marinated Grilled Lamb Chops with Cilantro-Mint Salsa Recipe Ingredients
2 racks lamb, each about 2 pounds, trimmed
2 cups chopped organic scallions
1 cup soy sauce
1 cup mirin (sweet sake)
2 tablespoons toasted Asian-style sesame oil
1 tablespoon chopped fresh ginger
1 tablespoon crushed red pepper flakes
2 or 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
Freshly ground black pepper
Cilantro, mint, or parsley sprigs, for garnish
1/2 cup rice vinegar
1/4 cup packed coarsely chopped fresh cilantro
1/4 cup packed coarsely chopped fresh mint
1/4 cup packed coarsely chopped fresh Italian parsley
1 tablespoon honey
1/2 tablespoon chopped fresh ginger
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
Freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup peanut oil
Chinois Marinated Grilled Lamb Chops with Cilantro-Mint Salsa Recipe Directions
About 1 hour before you plan to cook them, start marinating the lamb racks. Put them in a bowl or dish just large and deep enough to hold them comfortably. In a mixing bowl, stir together the scallions, soy sauce, mirin, sesame oil, ginger, red pepper flakes, garlic, and salt and pepper to taste. Pour the mixture over the lamb racks, turn to coat them evenly, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate.
After 1 hour of marinating, remove the lamb racks from the marinade and leave at room temperature while you heat up the grill.
Season the lamb racks all over with salt and pepper and place them, bone side up, on the hot grill. Grill until medium rare, 15 to 20 minutes, turning them about halfway through the cooking process. To test for doneness, insert an instant-read thermometer into the thickest part of the meat not touching bone; it should read 145 degrees F. for medium-rare.
Remove the lamb racks to a carving board and cover with foil to rest while you make the salsa. In a mixing bowl, stir together the rice vinegar, cilantro, mint, parsley, honey, ginger, and red pepper flakes. Season to taste with salt and pepper, stirring until the salt dissolves. Stirring continuously, slowly drizzle in the oil. Set aside.
With a sharp knife, carefully cut the lamb racks into individual chops, cutting in between the bones. Spoon some of the salsa into the centers of individual heated serving plates. Arrange the chops on top and garnish with cilantro, mint, or parsley sprigs. Pass additional salsa on the side.
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