Tuesday, February 15, 2011

I Love Lamb (not lamp) - recipe

This Valentine's Day was definitely our tightest ever budget wise. But honestly it has never been about gifts with us anyway. Phil had the day off work, and we got to spend it together at home which was amazing. Nonetheless, I wanted to do something special for him. I decided to make a new-to-us meal that we've never had before. We had both been really interested in trying lamb at home.

I bought some beautiful lamb loin chops from my local produce market. They basically looked like little t - bone steaks. Since I had never cooked them before I researched online various ways of cooking them. In the end, it seemed like the grill was the best way to go. There were so many variations on time and temperature for oven and stove top preparations. The result was actually quite delicious (after BOTH grillings, because it was a complete learning curve. Our chops were quite thick so we kept them on longer than the average 3 minutes per side for medium rare doneness).

lamb chop loin with basil/mint pesto, orzo and oven roasted potatoes

Here's what I did for the lamb:

Three hours before dinner I made a marinade of olive oil, minced garlic, rosemary, basil, salt and pepper.
Twenty minutes before cooking the lamb, I took it out and out it on the counter to come closer to room temp before grilling. We initially grilled it for 3 minutes on each side, and it was dead rare. (Like I said, these were monster chops). We re-fired them for another 3 minutes, and they were a perfect medium rare. Sometimes a little trial and error is necessary.

The pesto:

I used equal amounts of fresh basil and mint, the zest and juice of 1 lemon, a good helping of minced garlic, olive, pignolis (pine nuts), salt and pepper. I just loaded everything into the Vitamix and pulsed until I got the desired consistency. Phil used his pesto as a dipper, and I went for more of a glaze effect - as shown above. (This stuff was also delicious mixed into the potatoes and orzo). 

The potatoes:

I always roast my potatoes in a 13 x 9 glass baking dish. (It is really easy to remove them). I preheat my oven to 350. Then I chop whatever potatoes I have on hand to bite size. I throw them in a bowl and mix with olive oil, rosemary, salt and pepper. 30 - 35 minutes in the oven is usually just right for a nice crispy outside and a tender inside. 

The orzo:

I had never cooked orzo, before but the directions for timing were right on the box. After draining it, I returned it to the pot and added butter and parsley. I stirred it for a minute to make sure everything was well incorporated. I have to say, this is my new favorite pasta. It eats like a rice but tastes like a noodle.

Even though we had a hiccup along the way, I would still call the night's romantic dinner a success. We now know that we can cook lamb at home, and we got to try some new flavors that we really enjoyed!

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