Double Lamb Chops, carrots, and corn maque choux a la Kathy

Double Lamb Chops,carrots, and corn maque choux.

Tonight we passed through Pendulum Fine Meats to pick up our protein for dinner.  As we walked in we were greeted warmly as always and then we started gazing into the meat counter to see what we wanted.  Dana reminded us that we had their pork chops last time and we asked Kilan, their butcher, for his suggestions.  He suggested the double lamb chops and brought them out of the counter for us to see close up.

Double Lamb Chop

Double Lamb Chop

We had never actually seen this type of cut, which took our interest right off the bat, and we picked up two for dinner.  This particular style of chop is called many names and here are a few; double chop, Barnsley Chop, English lamb Chop, double loin chop, and saddle cut chop.  The main description is a double loin lamb chop that is a cross cut of the “saddle” of the lamb.  The saddle is the rear middle of the back.  You will see the actual vertebra is the bone in the center of the chop. One of the source books (aka Kathy’s mountain o’cookbooks), mentioned that you will only find this type of cut in a specialty or finer butcher shop.  So obviously that’s why we found it at Pendulum Fine Meats.

We kept the preparation simple with salt, pepper, garlic powder and chipotle powder.  This was prepared on the grill tonight and I want to discuss the fire a little in this article as it is important in the proper preparation of food.

First, we do not use any starter other than paper.  We don’t want to add any chemical flavor to the meat or products we place on the grill.  The grill I currently use has a neat design in that you can remove the center of the grill and place an insert to make a charcoal chimney in the center.  I am using the hardwood chunk charcoal and it works very well.

Coals in Chimney

Coals in Chimney

After the coals are ready to cook, I pull out the chimney and then I push the coals to one side to only cover the bottom of one half of the grill.  This is important so that you can have a cool side and a hot side to the grill.  Not saying the cool side is “cool” but does not have direct heat below the food you are cooking. I generally keep the top on the grill when cooking on the direct heat side.  This keeps the airflow across the coals restricted, thereby lowering the fire’s flare ups.

Coals on half of the grill

Coals on half of the grill

I want to make the next steps very clear.  I do not destroy meat by over cooking it.  I eat my steak rare and typically cook meat to a maximum of medium.  This provide the best flavor of the meat.  For the lamb we followed the same principal as cooking a steak.  The cut was 1” thick and for a rare steak or med rare I follow the rule of 3 minutes.  To give a grid look on the steak I cook for 3 minutes then rotate ¼ turn and cook for another three minutes.  Then flip and 3 and 3.  The first three minutes are over the coals and the second 3 is on the cool side of the grill.  This goes for both sides.  I pressure test the meat in the center by pressing with my finger feeling the resistance of the meat.  I will cover temperature testing with the area between your finger and thumb in another article.  When they are finished on the grill, you bring them in and cover with foil for at least 5 minutes to allow the meat to rest.  This is a very important step as it allows the meat to relax and the juices to redistribute back into it and not leak out when you cut the meat.  I know this part is hard to sit and watch that helpless meat sit there all alone not being eaten but we must resist as the reward is even greater. While it rested, we mashed some gremolata into a little butter and then smear on top of the chops while they rested. Examples of the hot and cold side cooking below

 

Cooking on direct heat

Cooking on direct heat

 

Cooking Indirect Heat

Cooking Indirect Heat

 

The carrots that we picked up while at PFM were peeled, placed in a sauce pan and covered with a can of Seagram’s ginger ale.  You cook the carrots until they are tender.  By the time they are tender, the ginger ale is usually almost gone.  Add a pat of butter and swirl, glazing the carrots. 

Seagram's Braised Carrots

Seagram’s Braised Carrots

The final component of the dish tonight was maque choux a la Kathy.  Traditional Louisiana maque choux can contain tomatoes, bell peppers and other components but tonight we are keeping things simple with corn off the cob, leeks sliced, celery, and cream.  The seasons were salt, pepper, thyme, and garlic.

It is a repetitive process.  Saute the leeks in a bit of butter with a little salt.  Add the garlic, saute a  little more.  Add the celery, saute little  more.  Add the corn, again, saute a little more.  Milk the corn cobs.  Add that and saute a little bit more.  Add some thyme and you guessed it, saute a little.  At this point you get to go a little crazy, and … wait for it… add a little water.  Cook the mixture until it is to the desired tenderness.  When you are almost there, add some cream and taste for seasoning.  Add salt / pepper / thyme or whatever you feel is necessary.   This is a very flexible, forgiving and “kitchen fridge-friendly” dish.  While I didn’t tonight, I usually start with a little bit of meat / ham / tasso / bacon, etc.  You can add whatever you like.  Tonight my fridge had leeks, I used leeks.   The next time, it might be shallots or onions.  I didn’t have any sort of stock, so I used water.  Like I said it is a very flexible dish.   

All in all this was an outstanding dinner and we will be having it again. 

 

Double Lamb Chops, Young carrots, and corn maque choux

Double Lamb Chops, Young carrots, and corn maque choux

 Chris & Kathy

Double chops:  Pendulum Fine Meats

Carrots: Pendulum Fine Meats

Fresh Corn: Brothers Farm Market

Fresh Leeks: Brothers Farm Market

Water:  Eau de Faucet  

Breakfast Burrito with Chorizo

This morning we made breakfast burritos using the chorizo that we made in the Pendulum Fine Meats Sausage class.  The taste was very well  balanced with spices, and not overpowering from heat.  This shows the mark of a good blend in that you can taste all the components.  As our focus this morning was trying out the chorizo, the burrito was very basic and simple.  The next time there will be some additions, such as onions and peppers. Continue reading

Smoking Foods

 

I have over the years growing up in NC and VA developed a passion for quality smoked food.  I believe that if something is properly prepared and smoked your taste buds cannot be offended.  Now with that being  said the wife and I typically  experience  disappointment the majority of the time when we visit smokehouses.  She jokingly says I blame you as I have created the expectation of good food that cannot be achieved elsewhere. I want to say that I am not a professional or by any way try to state this.  I simply follow some basic guidelines when I smoke. The number 1 offence we find is over cooking the food.  I am not sure if the food is cooked properly then pulled or chopped tossed on a warming table and continues to cook and dry out however regardless dry meat IMO is not a desirable thing. When I smoke meat there is one basic simple process that I always follow.  I have a moisture pan in the smoker.  This provides a moist smoke to allow the meat to remain moist and also I think the smoke takes on a quality of its own.  Now I do not use water in the pan.  I use different juices.  My primary is apple juice which provide along with the hickory a hint of apple to the meats final taste without overpowering it with “smoke”  I will also add different items to the drip pan to add to the season of the smoke like garlic or other spices that complement that style of meat.  Then I plan my day around smoking and set aside 12 to 14 hours of my life to being around the smoker so that there is a constant temperature of 225 to 250 in the smoker.  Monitor the meat temperature to around 180 degrees also ensure it is not burned or dried out. I also find that many times the food it in my opinion over seasoned.  Yes I grew up in the land of vinegar based BBQ however you need to taste and enjoy every part of the meal.  This is simple as you should not be overwhelmed by the vinegar or the or the paprika etc.  You should be able to taste every component evenly.  There should not be anything that overpowers the other to the point of not tasting anything else.  I find many sauces overwhelming the taste also.  I use BBQ sauce however it is not soaked in the sauce again overpowering the meat or other elements of the meal.  As this section develops I hope that we can provide everyone with a good understanding of what needs to take place to have a great meal.