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Sunday, September 5, 2010

Grilled Lamb Chops with Balsamic Honey Glaze and Mint Pesto

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Ironically enough, the last time we made lamb was when we were eating with Mike and Maggie. For the most part, we tend to say away from red meat and only cook it occasionally, so as soon as Ryan saw the lamb recipe on Bobby Flay's site, he knew this was exactly what he wanted for his birthday dinner. Bobby paired the lamb with Columbia Crest Syrah, which was the wine we ended up selecting for our meal. As described on the site: "The flavors begin with currant and wild blackberry, followed with mild mint and soft cedar notes from oak barrel aging. Medium-bodied and a smooth texture make this a great food wine."
Bobby Flay knew what he was talking about, as this wine did indeed pair well with our lamb chops! We bought the lamb at the Green City Market from Mint Creek Farm, a local Illinois farm that sells 100% grass fed lamb. Ryan was very selective when choosing his lamb, and we almost had to walk away. Thankfully the Mint Creek employee kept pulling racks of lamb from the freezer until Ryan found one that met his demands.

Our lamb was purchased frozen, so we allowed it to thaw for a few hours, aided by a cold bowl of water. The recipes for the pesto and the glaze were very easy to put together. The execution, on the other hand, proved to be a bit more challenging! In normal circumstances, grilling the rack of lamb would have been a piece of cake. But with a miniature grill on the 25th floor of a high rise condo building, there are a few extra obstacles to overcome! The boys fended off invading spiders while rotating the lamb on the tiny grill, trying to cook it evenly. When they thought they'd succeeded, they brought the lamb inside only to discover that the condo lacked an adequate knife to cut through the bone and we had failed to bring one with us.

Still, Mike and Ryan refused to be defeated, and they went at the lamb with a variety of small knives and then a pair of kitchen shears. After several minutes, a sliced and bloody finger, and some exclamations of frustration, the lamb chops were separated. Still a little rare from the mini grill, we finished them off in a skillet and they were ready to be served!

Another beautiful presentation, these tasted as good as they looked on the plate. The lamb was, despite all the mishaps, cooked to perfection and the balsamic honey glaze gave it excellent flavor. While we also enjoyed the pesto, we agreed that parsley pesto would have been a more appropriate name, as that was the dominating flavor. If you really like parsley, I suggest sticking to the original recipe. Otherwise, play around with the quantities of mint and pesto until you get a balance that works for you. We all would have preferred a stronger mint flavor, particularly to pair with the mint undertones in the wine!

One Year Ago: Ginger Cookies (some of my all-time favorites!)

Grilled Lamb Chops with Balsamic Honey Glaze and Mint Pesto
recipe from Cork and Fork with Bobby Flay

For the pesto-
-1 1/2 cups fresh parsley, tightly packed
-1 cup fresh mint, tightly packed
-1 clove garlic
-2 tbsp pine nuts
-1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
-3 tbsp parmesan cheese, freshly grated
-salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

1. Combine parsley, mint, garlic and pine nuts in a food processor. Process until coarsely chopped. While the food processor is running, add the oil and process until smooth. Add the cheese, salt, and pepper and pulse to combine. Scrape pesto into a bowl and set aside.

For the balsamic-honey glaze-
-1/2 cup Aged balsamic vinegar
-1/4 honey
-salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

1. Whisk together vinegar and honey in a small bowl. Season with salt and pepper and set aside.

For the lamb chops-
-12 Frenched baby lamb chops (3 oz. each)
-3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
-salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

1. Heat grill to high. Brush chops on each side with olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Place chops on the grill for 3-4 minutes, until golden brown and slightly charred. Turn, brush with glaze and grill for one more minute.
2. Remove from grill, brush with more of the glaze and allow to rest for 5 minutes.
3. Serve three chops per person and top with a few teaspoons of the mint pesto.