weeknight gourmet

First BBQ of the Year: Grilled Herbed Baby Lamb Chops with Asparagus Salad

Taste: ****
Difficult: Easy
Cleanup: Quick

Tim and I are in the Berkshires for the first time since March 1st!  We typically don’t go this long without coming up to our house but there’s been a lot going on with AdBuyer.com and we just haven’t had the long Friday night drive in us.  Plus, mud season isn’t the most beautiful of times in Becket, MA.

But, this weekend, we’ve seen some early signs of spring — daffodils and tulips are breaking through the ground and soon our lawn will be full of Siberian squill.  For the first time since early December, there’s no sign of snow and our grill is no longer encased in ice on the deck, so this seemed like the perfect weekend to have our first barbecue!

When I think of early spring barbecue, I think of lamb so I decided to look for a good lamb recipe for the grill.  I found this Mario Batali baby lamb chop recipe, inspired by the Ribera del Duero wine region in Spain.  I had already spotted the perfect side in Food & Wine, a delicious roasted asparagus salad.

The lamb is coated in olive oil, a touch of red wine vinegar, kosher salt, pepper, sugar, chopped fresh rosemary, and dried lavender buds.  I had never used (or seen) dried lavender in a store before, but Guido’s, my local gourmet grocery store in Pittsfield, had them in their bulk spice section.  The chops with the herb mixture spread on them smelled like a whiff of Provence on an otherwise dreary day in Western Massachusetts!

The asparagus salad was super simple to prepare.  I misread the recipe and used triple the amount of zest which actually added a nice flavor!  Definitely use good Parmigiano-Reggiano for this recipe.  You can make beautiful cheese curls using your vegetable peeler!  I bought a bag of spring mix so the salad was super quick to assemble.

The asparagus only took 8 minutes to roast at 450 and the chops took the same amount of time for medium.  Overall, this delicious, and elegant-looking meal, took less than 20 minutes from start to finish!

Food & Wine suggested that a nice Rioja would complement the lamb but we didn’t have any on hand.  Instead, we opened a bottle of Barolo that we’ve been aging.  The 2001 Stefano Farina Barolo was a wonderful accompaniment to our spring celebration!

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Grilled Herbed Baby Lamb Chops
Food & Wine

  • Twelve 4-ounce baby lamb rib chops
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 2 teaspoons minced fresh rosemary
  • 2 teaspoons chopped dried lavender buds
  • Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper

Light a grill. Rub the lamb all over with the olive oil and drizzle with the vinegar. In a small bowl, combine the sugar, rosemary and lavender and season with salt and pepper. Rub the herb mixture over the lamb and grill over high heat, turning occasionally, about 8 minutes for medium-rare meat. Transfer to a platter, season with salt and pepper and serve.

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Spring Lettuce Salad with Roasted Asparagus
Food & Wine

  • 1 pound medium asparagus
  • 1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest # Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 10 ounces mixed spring lettuces
  • One 1 1/2-ounce piece of Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, shaved into curls with a vegetable peeler

Preheat the oven to 450°. On a rimmed baking sheet, toss the asparagus with 1 tablespoon of the oil and the lemon zest and season with salt and pepper. Roast the asparagus for about 8 minutes, until just tender and the tips begin to turn brown.

In a small bowl, whisk the lemon juice with the mustard and the remaining 1/3 cup of olive oil. Season with salt and pepper.

In a large bowl, toss the lettuces with all but 2 tablespoons of the dressing. Arrange the salad on plates and top with the roasted asparagus and cheese curls. Drizzle the remaining dressing over the asparagus and serve.

 

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