Thursday, May 20, 2010

Shama-lamba-lamb lamb.

Now, where was I? Oh yes, the lamb! This is actually the first time I ever cooked lamb (GASP!). I like the stuff a lot, but confined my consumption to restaurants. However, the chops at Bloblaws looked great so I decided to take the plunge.

Next task was to find a recipe. I knew where to go first: I headed straight for The Barbecue Bible -- 556 pages of pure genius. I zeroed in on Grilled Lamb with Herbes de Provence thinking "hey, that sounds good." It is.

You'll need 2 lemons (one for the marinade, one for serving), 1/4 cup of good olive oil, and 3 tablespoons of Herbes de Provence (two for the marinade, and one for a sprinkle at the end). This is enough for 12 chops. I also added some fresh rosemary, since, well, common, lemons? olive oil? lamb? the grill? how could I not add some rosemary?!

Now start your charcoal.

Then, mix the juice from one lemon, the herbs, the oil, and some salt and pepper together to make a marinade. The recipe says to brush this on your chops, but I am not a big fan of trying to clean oily goo out of brushes. I just dumped half of the marinade into a pan, and then sloshed the chops around in there until coated. (Keep the other half of the marinade aside for basting while you grill.) This sits for around 10 minutes at room temperature.

Now, as I was mentioning yesterday, I got a little ambitious and decide to try the Navajo flatbread recipe from Jamie's America at the same time.

For the flatbreads, you need 2 1/2 cups of flour (it's supposed to be bread flour, but I only had all purpose -- like that's gonna stop me), 1/2 tsp salt, 1 heaped tablespoon of baking powder, 1/3 cup of warm water, and 1/6 cup of olive oil (or 1/2 of 1/3 cup -- as you can probably guess, the recipe called for double all this stuff, but that makes 10 flatbreads which was about twice as much as I could use, so... I halved it).

Now, this is a little fussy. Mix the flour, baking powder, and salt. The make a well in the centre and add the oil and water. Start mixing it with a fork until it gets all shaggy. At this point, I was thinking, "Yeah right, like this will turn into a dough!"

But the recipe does say to add little splashes of water until it comes together and produces something you can knead. My mix came together with an extra three tablespoons or so (just a few palms full of water).

Once you have a dough, get kneading for about 10 mins (if you feel like it -- I gave up at around 5 mins because my coals were ready to dump, and I had some chops to grill!)

Roll the dough by hand into a log, and then cut it into 5 chunks. (To cut in 5, just make a mark at the half way point, then make marks at the halfway points of those sections. Then lop off the two ends a little on the outside of the marks and chop the middle section in three.) Finally, oil your hands and roll the dough chunks into balls and pop them in a bowl. (The recipe calls for doing this just before you form the breads at the grill, but I was already in for chaos out there, and figured I could do this step inside.)

Now, dump your coals! Bank them so there is a clear area with no charcoal.

Get your grill grate on there and cleaned up.

Make sure you have your safety equipment.

Grab your basic grill kit: a plate for the cooked food, a bowl with oil and paper towel for prepping the grill grate, and tongs.

Now get all the food outside. While the charcoal is settling down to the right temp you can start flattening your dough balls (those aren't specks of dirt -- I crumbled some oregano in there). They should be pretty thin. Just work them like playdough, pinching and patting until they look about right (mine were a little too thick I think -- I'll go thinner next time).

The neat thing here is that the breads and the chops should take about the same time to cook. The bread will be over the section with no coals, and the chops over the direct heat. So, if you're a student of "what the hell" then just jump right in and fire it all on the grill and prepare to ride the chaos wave of grilling happiness. (I usually think of Dirty Harry at times like this: "Are you feelin' lucky, punk?")

Now just jockey the chops around, baste them now and then (preparing for huge flames if you use a spoon like me). Rotate your breads after a couple of minutes, then flip them and rotate again. The chops need about 4 minutes per side. The breads a little less depending on how hot things are.

Keep a basket handy for the bread in case it finishes faster than the chops, or in case you can't fit all five on there at once and need to do them in two batches.

Once it's all cooked get inside, sprinkle the remaing spoonful of Herbes de Provence on the chops and let them rest for a minute or so. Now's a perfect time to make a quick salad. (Nibble some bread at the same time, they're great -- they taste like big soft pretzels.) I chopped some tomato, a bit of shallot, some fresh mint, and doused it all with a lemon and olive oil vinaigrette. (I figured I had to get some mint in here somewhere, this is lamb afterall.)

 Then serve up, eat, and be happy!

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