Wednesday, September 5, 2007

lamb chops, smashed potatoes and asparagus

lamb is my "desert island" meat. my "last meal" meat. you know, the one meat you'd eat for the rest of your life if you had to make a choice? well, that's lamb for me, i just love it. i grew up eating lamb and have always loved it. sometimes my mom served it with mint jelly, but not usually. we ate it roasted and grilled, always with lots of earthy spices to bring out the intense flavor and play up the gaminess that some people aren't used to. last year at my company christmas party, we were served lamb chops in a sweet sticky sauce that i coudln't get enough of. i asked the waitress what was in it and she brought me news from the chef - it was a guiness reduction sauce. i knew i needed to recreate the recipe, and i set to it straight away. i can safely pass on the recipe now, as my husband announced last night at dinner that he could "drink the sauce". these chops pair nicely with roasted garlic smashed potatoes and cinnamon roasted asparagus, so those recipes follow as well. the asparagus is a staple in our house, we have it prepared this way at least once a week. the potatoes are so good you'll want to eat them with your hands while they are still in the pan on the stove, and sometimes i do.


grilled lamb chops in a guiness reduction sauce

ingredients:

frenched lamb chops (you should have between 3 to 4 per person, but more is always welcome)

salt

olive oil

1 bottle of guiness

2 cups of brown sugar

fresh sprig of rosemary


equipment:
grill pan


directions:

in a small saucier or small pot, heat one bottle of guiness and the rosemary sprig until boiling. remove rosemary and add in the sugar and mix, using a wooden spoon to tame the froth that will appear as the beer boils down. keep this pan at a low boil to reduce, stirring often, until it it thickened slightly. remove from the heat and allow to cool slightly - this will continue the thickening process. set this to the side to be used after the lamb is cooked.

let the lamb chops come to room temperature.
heat 2-3 tablespoons of olive oil on a grill pan on almost high heat - the idea is to sear the meat and let it come to medium rare after removed from the heat. separate the chops if they are in a rack, and then salt both sides of each chop. sear them on each side for about one minute to one and a half minutes. remove from the heat and set aside. if you would like to have medium or medium well chops, cook just a little longer, though, i encourage you to try them rare as the beauty of lamb is lost if it is overcooked. once the lamb has set for a few minutes, dip the meaty part of the chop into the sauce, plate them, then drizzle a little extra sauce over the top of each one. serve warm over the potatoes below.

notes:

these lamb chops are a real treat, they are both fancy and comforting at the same time, and are actually quite simple to make. serve them when you have a special guest to dinner and feel free to smile coyly when they ask how you made them.


roasted garlic smashed potatoes
ingredients:
large head of garlic
olive oil

salt

6-8 yukon gold potatoes

1/2 cup heavy cream

2-3 tablespoons butter


equipment:

potato masher


directions:

slice the top off of a head of garlic and drizzle the entire thing with olive oil then sprinkle with salt. wrap in a bit of foil and cook in the oven (i used my toaster oven because it uses less energy) at 350 degrees for about 35 to 40 minutes. set aside to cool.

clean, peel and slice the potatoes and put them into a large pot full of cold water. bring the pot to a boil and cook until the potatoes are fork tender. drain.
in the pan the potatoes were cooked in, heat the butter over low heat until melted. remove each of the roasted garlic cloves from the skin, discarding the skin. heat the cloves of garlic for about 30 seconds in the butter, mashing slightly. add in the potatoes and about 1/2 of the cream and continue to mash. keep adding the cream until the potatoes are a nice creamy consistency, trying to equally distribute the garlic through the potatoes. serve and enjoy.

notes:

these are the ultimate mashed potatoes. they have chunks of garlic and potato running through them, and that texture makes them so "homemade". the garlic gets sweet and soft, and fully flavors the potatoes without overwhelming them. they aren't low fat, but you could substitute margarine and milk for the butter and cream if you are watching your diet. you can substitue other types of potatoes, i've used russet potatoes, red skin potatoes and sweet potatoes as well as the yukon golds.


cinnamon roasted asparagus

ingredients:

one bunch asparagus
2-3 tablespoons olive oil

salt
cinnamon


equipment:

sil pat


directions:

rinse the asparagus well and dry it. snap the ends off (you can cut them if you'd like, but if you hold the end and the middle of the asparagus, and snap, it will snap where the dry bit ends...perfect each and every time.) coat in a drizzle of olive oil, salt and a liberal sprinkling of cinnamon and evenly distribute on a sil pat lined roasting pan.
roast in the oven at 425 for about 15 minutes. serve right away to retain the crisp bite.


notes:
this asparagus goes with everything. the cinnamon brings out the natural sweetness of the vegetables, as does the roasting, but the salt balances it all out so that it stays fresh. you don't need to use the sil pat, but it cuts down on sticking and allows you to use less oil.

2 comments:

Jen Ryan said...

I think it's funny that despite my threat that you'd get a post that reads, "Dear Courtney. I see you are having asparagus on Wednesday. Have I mentioned that I love asparagus? And, I get really lonely on Wednesdays..." that you had asparagus on a Wednesday! (AND, had I read this earlier, I totally would've invited myself over.) :p

Shannon Fitzgibbons said...

My first attempt at lamb chops......they were great! I need to work on my guinness sauce, don't think I let it cook long enough (1/2 hour)? Next i'm goin gafter VJ's grandmothers eggplant parm recipe!