• It took me far too long to develop a taste for lamb. And as much as I would like to blame that prejudice on the limited culinary experiences of my Long Island childhood, that’s actually not the case: My brother has always loved lamb. What finally changed my mind was a trip to Morocco.  After tasting those luscious tagines—with their long-braised meat, jammy dried fruit, and warming spices—this lamb-phobe turned lamb-obsessed and there was no looking back. This recipe pays homage to Morocco’s exotic, addictive flavors. It’s a dish worthy of a celebratory occasion, but it’s not tricky to pull off—I’ve been known to serve it for a weeknight family meal. Each of the components is silly yummy on its own—the spice-rubbed lamb chops, the minty salsa, the currant-spiked couscous—but something magical happens when they all come together. It’s all about that perfect bite!

    Somehow this recipe was mistakenly omitted from the spring chapter of Cook Beautiful.  Seemed appropriate to share today as it would make for the perfect Easter meal!

The Forgotten Lamb Chops with Mint Salsa

Athena Calderone, Cook Beautiful

  • Ingredients

    • Serves 4

      For the mint salsa verde:
      1 1/2 cups lightly packed fresh mint leaves
      ¾ cup lightly packed Italian parsley
      2 garlic cloves, minced
      1 ½ tablespoons shallot, finely diced
      ¼ teaspoon minced habañero chili
      ¾ cup extra-virgin olive oil
      ¼ cup fresh lemon juice (about 2 lemons)
      Salt and freshly ground pepper 

      For the currant couscous
      3 tablespoons dried currants
      1/3 cup white wine vinegar
      2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
      ½ yellow onion, finely chopped
      1 garlic clove, chopped
      1 teaspoon cumin seeds, lightly crushed
      1 ½ cups chicken stock
      1 cup couscous
      1/4 cup toasted pine nuts
      Salt and freshly ground pepper

      For the lamb chops:
      8 bone-in lamb rib chops
      1 teaspoon black peppercorns
      2 ½ teaspoons coriander seeds
      2 ½ teaspoons cumin seeds
      Salt and freshly ground pepper

  • Method

    • First, make the salsa verde: Finely chop the parsley and mint. Transfer to a bowl and stir in the remaining ingredients. Season with salt and pepper, and set aside.

      Make the couscous: Place the currants in a small bowl. In a small saucepan, heat the vinegar over low heat until steaming, then pour over the currants. Set aside the currants to steep until you need them.

      Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook until the onion is translucent, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the cumin seeds and toast for 1 minute. Add the stock and bring to a boil. Add the couscous, cover the saucepan with a tight-fitting lid, and remove from heat. Let stand, undisturbed, for 5 to 10 minutes.

      While the couscous stands, make the spice rub for the lamb chops: Crush the peppercorns in a mortar and pestle or with the back of a heavy knife. Add the cumin and coriander seeds and lightly crush. Set aside.

      Drain the currants. Add them to the couscous with the pine nuts and stir to combine. Season with salt and pepper.

      Now, make the lamb: Rub the chops on all sides with the spice mixture and season generously with salt. Preheat the grill over medium-high heat, about 400ºF. Grill the chops until they are lightly charred, about 4 minutes per side for medium-rare. Rest, tented with foil, for five minutes, allowing the juices to reabsorb.

      Serve the chops with the couscous. Drizzle with the salsa verde. Serve with the remaining salsa verde on the side.

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