Hot weather cooking

Marinated lamb chops with grilled onions, zucchini and orange bell peppers

I mentioned a few posts back that its been fairly hot here. Now I know that’s relative, here along the coast, it doesn’t get into the high 80s or 90s very often and we usually can count on an ocean breeze to keep it cool, so the fact we don’t have central A/C isn’t usually an issue.

Our kitchen gets crazy ridiculous hot when the temperature gets above 85 and. It does not make for a hospitable cooking environment. I try to combat this by doing my prep early in the day, when its still cool. Then do my cooking on the grill.

When its hot like this I crave lighter fare and Eastern Mediterranean cuisine. I found some lamb chops on sale the other day so I’m going to grill those up along with some leg of lamb, zucchini, onions and peppers. We’ll have the lamb chops this evening. I think of lamb chops as special occasion kinda food. We’re celebrating our 9th Wedding Anniversary so seems like a perfect excuse. The leg of lamb and veggies we’ll eat with a salad of romaine lettuce, red onion, pepperoncini, feta and olives through the week.

The lamb is marinaded with a combination of yogurt, lemon juice, garlic, fresh mint, parsley and basil and dried oregano, dried sage and salt and pepper. I use the food processor to grind up the herbs, garlic, spices and salt and pepper.

herbs, spices, lemon juice and garlic waiting for a spin in the food processor.

Then I mix that with the yogurt and olive oil.The yogurt helps to tenderize the lamb and helps the marinade to stay on the meat even during grilling.

Yogurt and olive oil added to the ground up herbs and spices

Then I place the lamb chops into a zip top freezer bag along with about 2 TBS of marinade.

place about 2TBS of yogurt mixture into a zip top bag and add the lamb chops. Massage the lamb chops so that they are completely coated with the marinade.

You can marinade the meat over night or for as little as 2 hours. Just let it chill in the refrigerator.

Butterflied de-boned leg of lamb with marinade applied.

The same applies for the boneless butterflied leg of lamb. I buy mine already de-boned and butterflied.  They’re easy to find Easter through Summer, this one came from my local Sprouts. 3-5lbs leg of lamb can easily feed 8 people.  I removed the mesh pouch that its packed with, opened it up and made a few more cuts to make sure the lamb was a uniform thickness. Then coated it with about 3 or 4 TBS of the marinade, placed into a 2 gallon zip top bag and let it chill in the fridge along side the lamb chops. An hour before I start the grill I’ll take the lamb out of the fridge and let the temperature come up.  I grill over direct heat turning once after about10 minutes. Then cook for another 10 minutes for medium rare.

Once I pull the leg of lamb off the grill I’ll let it rest for 10-15 minutes.  While the leg of lamb rests, I’ll grill the lamb chops. They take about 3-5 minutes per side.

Marinade Recipe:

3 cloves of garlic

Juice of 1 lemon

1 tsp crushed dried oregano

1 tsp rubbed sage

salt and pepper

4 TBS each of  torn fresh Mint, Parsley, and Basil leaves

1 TBS fresh rosemary leaves

zest of 1 lemon

4 TBS yogurt

2 TBS olive oil

Place, lemon juice and zest, garlic, herbs and salt and pepper into a food processor bowl and pulse until a paste forms. Scrap into a clean bowl and add yogurt and olive oil and mix until well combine. Taste for seasoning and add more salt if needed.

This same marinade also works well for chicken. We made Chicken Kabobs when my in-laws were in town a few weeks back. The chicken thighs stayed moist and were well seasoned even though they were marinaded for only an hour. You can also take this same butterflied and de-boned leg of lamb, and cut it into 1 inch cubes for Lamb Kabobs.

And here is the finished roast after grilling and resting.

Grilled leg of lamb sliced and ready for some pita

And here’s the lamb on pita with tomatoes, pickles, lettuce, Yogurt Dill Sauce and grilled onions.

lamb on pita with tomatoes, lettuce, dill sauce and pickles.

 

 

 

Crazy, crazy, busy week and getting a little jerky.

I work close to 30 hours a week and go to school full time. Its a crazy hectic time at work, so I’ve not been around the house to cook or to eat. My meals have come from places like Wawa, Taco Bell (yeah, I eat Taco Bell and I feel ashamed) and the campus cafeteria. Side note: I wrote a column for the campus newspaper about the 5 best things to eat from the campus cafeteria. You can read it here.

In celebration of surviving my crazy hectic schedule, we decided to have a nice sit down dinner. Earlier in the summer we experimented with jerking lamb chops. The experiment was a success. The lamb chops were moist, tender and most importantly well seasoned and flavorful. I’ve had the pleasure of enjoying a lot of great food in my life and I’d have to say the jerked lamb chops were probably one of the best things I’ve ever eaten.

I love spicy food and jerk is a great combination of salty, sweet, and spicy and easy to make. A blender is a handy tool for making jerk marinade. Just throw everything into the blender and whiz. For my marinade I put half a can or so of pineapple juice into the blender, 2 bunches of chopped scallions, a bunch of cilantro, whichever type of chili you like, I use a couple of whole serrano chilies, 5 cloves of garlic, a quarter cup of soy sauce, quarter cup of brown sugar, tablespoon each of allspice berries and peppercorns, a dash of ground cinnamon, and a couple of nickel sized coins of ginger. Blend it up until everything is pulverized and well incorporated.

You can use this marinade for fish and chicken or just about any type of meat. Marinade over night and then grill if you’re lucky enough (or allowed) to have one or roast in the oven.

Jerk Lamb Chops

Jerk Lamb Chops

And if you’re not so inclined to make your own jerk seasoning, here’s a pretty tasty alternative. Its also available in a spicy version.

Grace Jerk Seasoning, this happens to be mild flavor it also comes in a spicy version.

Grace Jerk Seasoning its available in both spicy and mild.

Next up… homemade energy bars