A good pal of Mary Sue Milliken's recently presented the chef-restaurateur (as in Too Hot Tamales, Border Girls; business partner of chef Susan Feniger) with 46 pounds of great lamb. That sent her to retrieve "a ton of great mint" from the garden in light of the two ingredients' natural flavor affinity, Milliken told us last week by phone from Santa Monica, Calif. Once her obliging husband had cut the meat into portions, Milliken came up with this easy recipe for her newsletter subscribers (go to www.marysueandsusan.com). The salsa features a ton of mellowed garlic, too.
Using peeled cloves, available in the produce department, will shorten the prep time considerably.
Those without an outdoor grill could sear the lamb loin chops in a grill pan and finish them for a few minutes in a 350-degree oven.
Milliken likes to serve this dish with a mixture of 1/4- or 1/2-inch-thick slices of grilled potatoes and onions: "As long as the grill is going, might as well use it," she says.
- For the lamb
- 8 lamb loin chops, about 3/4 inch thick (1 3/4 pounds)
- Sea salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- For the salsa
- 2 heads garlic (24 to 30 cloves)
- 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- 1 1/2 cups dry white wine
- 1 cup loosely packed mint leaves
- 1 teaspoon honey
- Splash balsamic or sherry vinegar, or more to taste
- Freshly ground black pepper
For the lamb: Season the chops generously with salt and pepper to taste. (If time is not an issue, let them rest at room temperature for 15 minutes to 1 hour.)
Prepare the grill. If using a gas grill, heat it to medium-high. If using a charcoal grill, start the charcoal or wood briquettes; when the briquettes are ready, distribute them evenly under the cooking area for direct heat. Oil the grate. Grill the chops to the desired doneness, about 4 to 6 minutes per side for medium-rare. Transfer to a platter and cover loosely with aluminum foil.
While the chops are on the grill, start the salsa: Peel the garlic cloves, removing any green sprouts inside. Heat the oil in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook, stirring often, for 10 minutes, until well browned. Add the crushed red pepper flakes and wine; increase the heat to medium-high and cook for 6 to 8 minutes, until the liquid has reduced to about 1/2 cup.
As the liquid reduces, coarsely chop or chiffonade the mint leaves and add to the saucepan along with the honey and vinegar. Taste and adjust: If the wine is quite dry, you will need less vinegar; if the wine has some sweetness, you might need more vinegar. Season to taste with salt and pepper and remove from the heat.
Place 2 chops on each plate and spoon some of the warm mint and garlic salsa over the top. Serve warm.
Adapted from the summer 2007 edition of In the Kitchen With Mary Sue and Susan.
Tested by Bonnie S. Benwick.
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