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Monday, February 21, 2011

Four Ingredient Challenge Lamb Chop

First off, we have a new member in out little club, welcome Rich from Grilling with Rich to the Four Ingredient Challenge.  I hope you find this as challenging and interesting as I have.  Our February Four Ingredient Off our Grills Challenge involves lamb chops, blood oranges, elbow macaroni and nappa cabbage.  As usual, when ever I approach a set of ingredients, my first thought is to what will be available to me, where am I going to get these things and what makes sense in terms of flavor profiles.

My initial thought was to go Chinese/BBQ hybrid, in keeping with my familiarity and comfort with heritage and comfort flavors.  However, the elbow macaroni just does not work for me in that context, so I started considering what I could put together featuring lamb, blood orange and macaroni.  European flavors work better in my mind for this combination, adding in the nappa, which I can work flavor profiles off of, the apparent choice is going to be a fusing of French, American BBQ and a little Japanese touch.  Thus...

Lamb Chops with a Blood Orange Marinade, Puy Lentils and Macaroni and a Sweet Nappa and Citrus Salad.

The salad was made with nappa cabbage, carrots and supremes of blood orange.  I decided to do a sugar cure of the nappa cabbage and the carrots, which meant first slicing them up, curing them separately as I do not want the flavors to blend.  The veggies are layers with a mixture of sea salt and turbinado sugar mix.  Then they are weighted to make sure as the liquid is pulled out, the vegetables stay in the liquid.

These were allowed to sit for 12 hours until the vegetables were cured.  They remain crunchy and get a slight salty/sweet flavor profile.  These quick pickles will not hold due to the sugar used.  This is a very traditional method for the start of making Tsukemono, all I would need is a week or two of fermenting in a cool dark spot.  But, I am in a hurry.  After washing the veggies, I tossed them and added some supremes of blood orange.  The end result tasted great, with an excellent balance of salty and sweet flavors and the freshness of the orange adding to the unique crunchy texture and vegetable flavor.  And it looked great.

Moving on, the lamb chops, which mysteriously avoided the camera intially, was marinaded in a blend of rosemary, blood orange zest, olive oil, blood orange juice and some Todd's Dirt, which is a herb based BBQ rub mix which I have found makes an excellent season-all for many meat and soup dishes.  Here are the ingredients for the marinade.
The side dish for this challenge had to include elbow macaroni, the problematic ingredient.  There is always a problematic ingredient isn't there.  Well, elbow macaroni with lamb, hmmm...  The lentils, Puy Lentils in fact, were boiled with bay leaves and a whack of Todd's Dirt, then they were drained and combined with the cooked macaroni.  Just prior to serving, a pretty standard mirepoix of  carrots, onion and celery were sauteed along with some garlic.  The lentil/pasta mix was added along with some mustard and some Lucky Dog hot sauce.  Here are the veggies...
The lamb chops came out of the marinade after 5 hours, out of the pool and into the fire, Muaaahahaaaa...anyways, as you can see, the chops get a little bit of a funny color from the blood orange juice in the marinade.  Let's hope that is not an issue.
On the cooker, smoking at 225F over charcoal and apple wood, for about 30 minutes.  Then bumped up to an unknown temperature due to my back aching.  The chops were removed from the kettle at just the right time, based purely upon my guessing.  There were right at 135F, odd how that works.  Just pink throughout the chop.  As for the color, not a problem, they came out great.
Here is the final plating, I added some fresh roasted cashews and a cognac chutney made from dates, raisins and candied ginger.  If you look closely, you can see the strips of fresh mint I snipped over the final product.  I decided the intensity of the chutney would be a good counterpoint to the earthy lamb and the starchy lentil/elbow macaroni mix.

 I have to say, the lentil and macaroni dish has some promise, as odd as it sounds, the basic flavors actually complemented each other quite nicely.  The lamb, chutney and cashews worked very well together.

Grilling with Rich - Entry Here

I am a young person breaking into the great world of barbecue. I enjoy everything about barbecue from the culture to the food. I am just a regular guy trying to have fun and enjoy the food and the process of cooking the food on the grill.  At Grilling with we go beyond just the normal cooking adventures and dig deeper into the large world of BBQ’ing, both professionally and for amateurs. Grilling with Rich focuses on the adventures of a regular guy and his quest to understand and learn as much as possible about the BBQ world.

Larry Gaian of The BBQ Grail - Entry Here
The BBQ Grail website was created in 2007, initially to document the author’s quest to find the perfect backyard BBQ experience. Since that time The BBQ Grail has become one of the more popular BBQ blogs on the internet and is listed on as one of the top BBQ blogs.

Paul Haight of No Excuses BBQ – Entry Here
The No Excuses BBQ website was started in January of 2009 as a way to record the author’s goal of cooking outdoors at least once a week throughout the year and showing the results to the world.  Somewhere along the way things got out of control…

Marc Van Der Wouw of Grill Adventures - Entry Here
Grilladventures by broadcastmarc is started on march of 2010.I started the BBQ thing when I was 30,before that we eat a lot outside.have fun,but when the kids came in our life We start serious cooking.Most of it is realy healthy I think;-)The grill has a special place in my heart,We love to do things outside..Everything I make is an adventure,and sometimes we use the books.We try to grill as much as we can year round.

Chris Grove of Nibble Me This - Entry Here
Nibble Me This is Chris Grove’s blog about his misadventures in live fire cooking. ”I have no culinary training….I’m just entertaining myself with fire and food”.


  1. Funny how plain old macaroni can throw us such a curve ball, right? I see I wasn't the only one to opt for the loin chops. Nicely done, Bob!

  2. Love the salad, and the lamb chop looks great as well. Interesting macaroni dish you came up with there; I agree that it sounds odd.

  3. Hey guys...

    Bob - thanks for the shout out!! :)