Thursday, March 17th, 2011

Pistachio, Mint, & Spice Crusted Lamb Chops

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This morning, I walked outside to experience the magic of Spring. I looked up to see a sky nearly uninhabited by clouds. I heard birds sing an encouraging song to the trees they now call home. I closed my eyes to wallow in the gentle warmth of the sun and to feel the ever-so-slight breeze brush it’s cool hand against my face. Mother Nature, we welcome your magical season of rebirth, inspiration, and hope, with very open arms.

The cool warmth of spring inspired me to share a Middle Eastern-Inspired Couscous recipe with you on Tuesday. Nothing goes better with the couscous than than this recipe for Pistachio, Mint, and Spice Crusted Lamb Chops.

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In my last post, I failed to mention that this entire meal took me only about half-an-hour to prepare. Although this meal requires quite a few ingredients, don’t be overwhelmed or intimidated by the ingredients list- this recipe is very easy to put together. You’ll find yourself doing more chopping and mixing than anything else, which I think is quite therapeutic after a hectic day.


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These lamb chops are layered with flavor. They first get a healthy sprinkling of fine grain sea salt and coarsely ground black pepper, then they are massaged with a spice rub consisting of lemon zest, pulverized cardamom seeds,freshly ground cinnamon, and a few other aromatics. The flavor doesn’t stop there- after the lamb chops have been beautifully seared in a cast-iron skillet, they’re daubed with a coarsely chopped pistachio and mint topping that adds great flavor and character to these lamb chops, and then placed in the oven for five minutes.

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Once the lamb chops are properly cooked, they’re served next to a fluffy alp of couscous that has been drizzled with a very addictive yogurt-mint sauce (which, I admit, I like to drown everything in because it tastes so good).

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You deserve this meal after a hectic day at work. Within the next few weeks, you should take a walk outside, close your eyes, let the afternoon sun bathe you in its light, and allow the cool breeze to brush against your face. After enjoying what this magnificent season has to offer, put this thirty-minute meal together and wallow in the delicious flavors of the Middle East. You’ll thank me for encouraging you to do so.

Pistachio, Mint, & Spice Crusted Lamb Chops Recipe
Makes 6 Servings (Serves 2-3 People)

Although the preparation for these lamb chops is rather quick and simple, you will need quite a few ingredients to make this recipe.

The layers of flavor and texture are what make these lamb chops phenomenal. Served with Middle Eastern-inspired couscous and yogurt-mint sauce, this quick meal encourages you to wallow in the flavors of middle-eastern deliciousness.

The spice mixture used for the lamb chops is rather untraditional, especially because sumac would be used instead of the lemon zest, but trying to find sumac is like is like going on a long treasure hunt.

If you prefer a less tangy yogurt sauce, I would leave out a bit of the lemon juice and add in about a tablespoon more of mayonnaise. If you prefer not to use mayonnaise, you can make this yogurt sauce with greek yogurt, a glug of milk, and the lemon juice [or… just greek yogurt and a glug of buttermilk]. I prefer the sauce to be slightly tart, as it compliments all of the flavors in the lamb and the couscous, but you can adjust the sauce to your taste. I will warn you, however, this sauce is quite addicting.

Ingredients:

Couscous (recipe here; optional)

6 lamb chops (about ¾-inch thick)
Fine Grain Sea Salt & Freshly Ground Black Pepper
Olive Oil

Spice Rub
2 teaspoons lemon zest
Seeds from 3 green cardamom pods, pulverized into a fine powder
1 ½ teaspoons freshly ground cumin
½ teaspoon chili powder
½ teaspoon freshly ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
Juice of ½ lime (1 tablespoon)
1 tablespoon olive oil

Pistachio and Mint Topping
⅔ cup (60g / 2.10 oz) pistachios, shells removed
⅔ cup mint
⅓ cup cilantro
¼ cup olive oil
1 tablespoon finely chopped red onion
1 teaspoon lemon zest

Yogurt-Mint Sauce
Juice of 1 lemon
1 cup greek yogurt
⅓ cup of mint, finely chopped
3 tablespoons mayonnaise

Preparation:

Prepare the couscous.

Generously season each of the lamb chops (both sides) with salt and pepper.

For the Spice Mixture:
Mix all of the ingredients for the spice rub in a bowl. Set aside.

For the Pistachio and Mint Topping:
In a food processor, chop all of the ingredients for the pistachio and mint topping. Process the mixture until it is coarsely ground (not pureed). Set the mixture aside.

For the Yogurt-Mint Sauce:
Put all of the sauce ingredients into a bowl and stir. Keep refrigerated (I’d say for up to two days max).

Cooking the Lamb Chops:

Place the chops in a glass baking dish or on a baking sheet (with a lip), and gently massage the lamb chops with the spice rub. Get in there- cover those babies from head-to-toe with the spice mixture!

Generously douse with olive oil. Allow the lamb chops to sit at room temperature for about 10 – 15 minutes, while you preheat your oven.

Preheat oven to 425ºF / 200ºC / Gas Mark 6.

Heat a large cast-iron skillet or large sauté pan on medium-high heat.

Once the pan has heated, carefully plop the lamb chops (don’t bother dripping off the oil from the chops- you need it to cook the chops) into the hot pan and cook for about 2 minutes on each side to brown [Kamran Note: If the skillet begins smoking, lower the heat slightly.] Once the chops are as beautifully browned as roasted chestnuts, remove the pan from the heat and carefully daub each lamb chop with the pistachio and mint topping.

Put the pan of lamb chops in the oven for about 5 minutes until the lamb chops are medium-rare (or well-done, if you’re into that).**

Place the lamb chops in aluminum foil, and allow the meat to rest in for 5-6 minutes before serving.

Serve with this couscous. And drown it all in yogurt mint sauce. Enjoy!

** Testing for Doneness: If the lamb is medium-rare it will give when you press the meat with your finger, if it doesn’t give- it’s well-done.

To be very safe, you can use an instant read meat thermometer to check for doneness. If the lamb is medium-rare, it will register 140ºF-150ºF. If the lamb is medium, it will register 160ºF. And if it is well-done, the lamb should register 165º and above.

A special thank you to: Hannah of honey & jam for helping me figure out the picture order for this post. I had a difficult time and she came to the rescue. Thanks Hannah!

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37 COMMENTS

  • we are not martha
    March 17th, 2011
    1

    ohhhh, this is beautiful! you have me drooling over here… i can practically taste the layers of flavor that you described just from looking at the images!

    and today was such a perfect day in the northeast… it’s making me crave spring even more.

    beautifully written!

    [chels]

  • christelle is flabbergasting
    March 17th, 2011
    2

    woooowww… the light on your pics is… flabbergasting! -Yeah, I swear. And well, lamb chops are always great in ANY recipe (even with a pinch of salt, pepper and a tasty olive oil!)

  • Brian @ A Thought For Food
    March 17th, 2011
    3

    Dishes like this make me question my vegetarianism. :-P

  • Heathermmmm
    March 17th, 2011
    4

    Mouth is watering. I am not feeling overwhelmed, just hungry. Thanks for this amazing recipe. I will be eating some soon.

  • penny aka jeroxie
    March 17th, 2011
    5

    nom nom! Love the first shot…. I need more lamb in my life.

  • leaf (the indolent cook)
    March 17th, 2011
    6

    Those lamb chops look so incredibly good! I’m very, very hungry.

  • Soma
    March 17th, 2011
    7

    2 words – LOVE IT!

  • Barbara | VinoLuciStyle
    March 17th, 2011
    8

    I had lamb once many years ago and didn’t care for it. I took a chance again a couple of years ago and am glad I did. Luckily things change and I now love the flavor and we enjoy it each year for our Christmas dinner. These chop look and sound wonderful.

    By the way, there is a local spice shop where I typically get sumac which is online at http://www.savoryspiceshop.com. They might be able to help you. I love sumac with toasted sesame seeds and olive oil for dipping bread.

    kamran replied:

    Thanks for that Barb! I can find sumac, but I know it’s not readily sold in supermarkets, so it’ll be hard for others to find. I wanted this recipe to be easy for people- a stop at only one grocery store. But thanks for the link! :)

  • Mallory
    March 18th, 2011
    9

    beautiful post. even though it’s, oh 11 pm, your words made me feel the sun of spring!

    and these lamb ‘pops’? loved them! the flavor combination sounds heavenly, plus, I just love the look of lamb chops. there’s something about them that is whimsical and therefore a lot of fun to eat. or am I nuts?!

    kamran replied:

    Not nuts at all! Lamb rocks!

  • Mika
    March 18th, 2011
    10

    I’m vegetarian, but wow!!! What a great recipe…I’ll suggest this to my father, he’ll surely appreciate…

  • sharizat
    March 18th, 2011
    11

    this is a sophistication at its best! the recipe, the photos and the words! oh, my!

  • Helene
    March 18th, 2011
    12

    You are the best. I love what you do and this looks insane. Have a great week-end!

  • Lan
    March 18th, 2011
    13

    beautifully written. yes, spring is here and it’s gorgeous.

    for those of us who are not eating meat (in my case, for Lent) what would you recommend in lieu of the lamb? i realize this might be hard as lamb goes soooo well with mint…

    kamran replied:

    Honestly, I haven’t tried making a vegetarian version of this, but Tofu or Seitan might work. Don’t hold me to it, though.

  • Joanne
    March 18th, 2011
    14

    I’m trying to think of a fun way to enjoy the weather this afternoon that doesn’t involve me sitting inside studying. i’m thinking taking a walk to buy the ingredients for this would be perfect!

  • Mika
    March 18th, 2011
    15

    Maybe I’ll try this with tofu, let it marinate for one day at least…
    It will not be the same, but that’s ok… ^_^

  • Tanvi
    March 18th, 2011
    16

    This is my dream dinner.what a sophiscated idea!pistachio crusted lamb chops and afgani couscous..I m so so hungry.

  • Julie
    March 18th, 2011
    17

    Love it!! “Alp of couscous” – you’re awesome!!

    kamran replied:

    Thanks Julie! :)

  • The Manly Housewife
    March 19th, 2011
    18

    What a great meal I am inspired to try and I have lamb chops in the freezer.

  • Lisa { AuthenticSuburbanGourmet }
    March 19th, 2011
    19

    I do not make lamb often but now I have a terrific recipe to use! These look super delish!!! Have a great weekend!!

  • Sheryl Thompson
    March 19th, 2011
    20

    Kamran, you are truly blessed! I made these for dinner for me and my husband. We loved it all! And you are right- the yogurt sauce is addicting.

    Keep up the great work, sweetie :)

    kamran replied:

    Hi Sheryl, I am so glad that you loved the meal! :) Yes, that sauce is quite addicting. Thanks for the kind comment!

  • Cookin' Canuck
    March 19th, 2011
    21

    Those are the most beautiful lamb chops and what an incredible combination of flavors in that topping.

  • Elissa's Dad
    March 19th, 2011
    22

    Elissa’s Mom came home with some beautiful lamb chops today. In an unrelated event we went looking at tastespotting and saw the beautiful lamb chops and just had to click it. When I arrived at the blog, I laughed saying that looks like Kamran’s work, sure enough…..I am inspired. I have made a mint/cilantro/pistachio “pesto” before and love your approach here.

    kamran replied:

    Hi Mr. Bernstein- oh, the irony! I’m so glad that you clicked over to my space. :) I am also glad to have inspired you. If you love Middle Eastern cuisine, this is your kind of meal.

  • SproutsOfSpring
    March 19th, 2011
    23

    Looks delicious..i would love to try this out!!

  • MikeVFMK
    March 20th, 2011
    24

    I usually stop whatever I’m doing when I see a beautiful image of lamb. This was no different. Love the flavour combination and love the pictures. So good.

  • Sense of Home
    March 23rd, 2011
    25

    Those are some very nice looking lamb chops.

    -Brenda

  • Salaeha
    April 7th, 2011
    26

    Just made this along with the couscous and yogurt sauce, for dinner tonight. It was a hit. I’m not a huge fan of lamb but these were great. Thanks for the recipe!

  • Mindaugas
    November 1st, 2011
    27

    Ohh man, I used yout marinate and it really was so good, so I decided to put in my blog. Nice to found your blog ;)

  • lamb chop
    May 14th, 2012
    28

    Seems delicious. Will try it next weekend.

  • Joshua @ Slim Palate
    November 10th, 2012
    29

    These look absolutely gorgeous. And delicious of course! I love cooking with lamb. It always gives of such a positive vibe in the house. Makes everyone feel warm and happy I suppose. Not to mention the wonderful aroma that fills the house like a warm blanket. Love the recipe as well. I haven’t tried it yet, but I cant tell its going to be delicious. I usually crust my meat with herbs and sometimes nuts but this has given me the want to try using mint more often in my recipes. Thanks for the wonderful post!

  • MhaiS21
    January 5th, 2013
    30

    I just can sit on a shady corner of my home and read your literature all day long — magnificent Kam…

  • meatballs & milkshakes
    March 15th, 2013
    31

    Those lamb chops look so flavorful and delicious!

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