June – Turkish Lamb Chops

June – Turkish Lamb Chops

This is a meal capable of lifting spirits, and right now I think we all need a bit of that. The news keeps getting worse, it makes me very sad and distressed. I am sorry, sorry for the U.S. and sorry for the world. We are all in need of loving arms around us, hard come by in this time of social distancing.

There is some comfort in feeding yourself and your family well. The warming spices in this dish of Turkish lamb chops just might lesson your heartache a little. Cook it on your grill if the evening is warm enough, sit on your deck or patio with a glass of wine or a cocktail or something sparkling with a lime wedge.  Listen to the evening songs of the birds. Be at peace.

Turkish Lamb Chops

Turkish Lamb Chops

The tahini sauce is optional. I almost left it out, but don’t do that. It adds a creamy counterpoint to the spices. And, leftover sauce was delicious the next night drizzled over a simple grilled chicken breast.

Ingredients for the lamb:

  • I tablespoon Marash Turkish pepper, or Aleppo pepper, or a large pinch of red chili flakes
  • 2 teaspoons fennel seeds
  • 2 teaspoons coriander seeds
  • 2 teaspoons cumin seeds
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 pounds bone-in loin lamb chops, thicker the better
  • Extra virgin olive oil

Ingredients for the tahini Sauce:

  • 1/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 -3 garlic cloves, grated or minced
  • 1 3/4 kosher salt
  • 1 cup tahini
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 4 – 6 tablespoons of ice water

For serving:

  • fresh dill or fennel fronds, thinly sliced mint leaves, chopped cilantro or parsley
  • Ground sumac (optional)

Method for the lamb:

  1. Combine the red pepper, fennel seeds, coriander seeds and cumin seeds in a small bowl.
  2. Heat a small dry skillet over medium heat and toast the spices until fragrant, about 2 minutes.
  3. Pour onto a small plate to cool and once cool, pour into a mortar or spice grinder. Add the salt and black pepper. Then pound or grind briefly until you have a coarse-textured spice mix. You do not want them to be too finely ground.
  4. Pat the spice mixture all over the lamb chops, let them marinate at room temperature for at least 30 minutes or uncovered in the fridge up to 24 hours.

Method for the tahini sauce:

  1. In a food processor blend the lemon juice, garlic and salt. Let the mixture sit for about 10 minutes then add the tahini and ground cumin, blend until a thick paste forms. With the processor running, add the ice water, 1 tablespoon at a time, until the sauce is smooth and thin enough to drizzle.

To finish:

  1. Heat the grill or broiler on high.
  2. Drizzle the chops lightly with olive oil. Grill until they are charred on the outside and cooked to your taste. The cooking time will depend on the thickness of the chops and your desired end. Mine took 3 minutes on each side for medium rare.
Turkish Lamb Chops

Lamb Chops with Red Pepper, Coriander, Cumin and Fennel Seeds

Lamb Chops with Red Pepper, Coriander, Cumin and Fennel Seeds

Lamb Chops with Red Pepper, Coriander, Cumin and Fennel Seeds

This recipe comes directly from a wonderful cookbook, Dinner – Changing the Game, by Melissa Clark published in 2017.

To ease kitchen boredom I have been perusing forgotten cookbooks and this one is definitely a winner. I took the recommendation of a friend and have a family member pick a cookbook, then I chose a recipe out of that book to make for dinner. It’s sometimes a stretch to find a recipe that matches ingredients on hand, but it’s a fun challenge and keeps me out of the dinner rut.

I think the mix of spices would also be good on a chicken breast, halved horizontally and pounded to an even thinness. Or grilled tofu, first drained between paper towels, then sliced before coating and baking or grilling.

I am taking this dish to share on Fiesta Friday #331 hosted by the lovely Angie. I am this week’s co-host so come on over to the virtual blogging party to find a new recipe or craft idea right from your arm chair.

Stay well everyone, and safe. Let me know how you are doing. We are all having up days, and down days.