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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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