Lamb with Nectarine and Cherry Chutney
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Finally, here it is. I told you I’d get to it eventually. And believe me, it was worth the wait. If you like lamb then you’ll love this chutney. It is tart, sweet, and full of delicious flavor that really makes the earthy notes of the lamb pop.
I paired it with some grilled escarole, which is also something you should try. When the grill isn’t going We usually just give it a quick saute in a lightly oiled pan, but nothing beats grilling. The escarole leaves become soft and lightly wilted with slightly crispy browned bits and the flavor is nutty and not at all bitter.
The perfect bedding for a couple of seared lamb chops.
The trick to perfectly seared lamb is patience. Let the lamb sit out at room temperature for at least an hour prior to cooking. Season it heavily with coarse sea salt or kosher salt. Prior to grilling pat it dry and season with pepper. I use a blend of three types of peppercorns, black, white and red. Each pepper has a little different level of spiciness and hits the tongue in different places.
Get your grill nice and hot, use some aluminum foil over it and let it sit there over the coals until the smoking stops. Remove the foil and brush the grill clean. Then using a grill brush and vegetable oil, brush the grill from the back forward. Do this many times! Somewhere between five and ten. At least until the grill has stopped absorbing the oil and looks dark, black, and shiny.
Then, and only then, lay the chops down on the hot grill directly over the coals. Now just stand there. No, don’t touch them. Don’t even think about it (this is the secret to grilling anything). Just let them sit there until you can see that the meat has cooked up at least a 1/4-inch of the chop or steak.
Now you can gently lift up one corner and take a peak. If it resists you at all, even in the slightest bit, it isn’t done. Set it back down. Only when you meet absolutely no resistance is that beautiful chop ready to be flipped. Now, if you’re cooking a huge, thick rib eye steak, at this point you can cover the grill and let it cook. But if you’re steak or chop is less than 1 1/2-inches, don’t cover, just cook the other side following the rules above.
The final step is of course the most important. Once the chop has cooked on both sides, giving you the perfect, crispy brown, salted crust, remove it to the cold side of the grill—you do have a cold side of the grill don’t you?—and let it rest. This will help to equalize the temperatures throughout and let the juices that the heat has forced into the center of the meat penetrate the entire chop or steak. If you like your meats medium-rare or <gasp> even medium, you can bring the chop or steak back to the heat to cook it a little longer, or once flipped cover and cook.
But, be careful, especially when cooking with grass-fed and grass-finished meats, they have less fat and can dry out when over cooked. Their best temperature is medium-rare to rare. Let them rest longer on the cool side of the grill with tin foil over them for 15 minutes instead of cooking further. This will allow the meat to go up gently in temperature without drying it out.
While the meat is resting is a great time to grill any additional vegetables or fruits for your sides. In this case, I sliced the escarole head cleanly in half, making sure to wash it thoroughly and let it dry prior. A light brushing of olive oil on both sides and sprinkle with salt and pepper to season. Inside down on the hottest part of the grill, just until it has began to brown, about 2-3 minutes is all it needs. A quick flip, with a minute more and done.
Plate it up with this chutney and you’ll have a great summer grilled feast for any lamb lover.
- 2 T shallots, minced
- 1 T olive oil
- 1 nectarine, pitted and chopped
- 1/2 cup cherries, pitted and chopped
- 1 T fresh mint, chopped
- 1/2 T fresh oregano, chopped
- 1/4 cup champagne vinegar
- 1 t brown sugar
- 1 t garam masala (optional)
- In a small saucepan over medium heat add olive oil, when hot add shallots and saute until just beginning to brown. Add nectarines, cherries, brown sugar and vinegar. Cook for ten minutes, or until fruit has broken down, but is still chunky. Mix in oregano and mint. Cook for another 2 minutes then remove from heat. Salt to taste, adjust with sugar or vinegar for a balance between sweet and tart flavors and mix in the garam masala if using. Let cool until warm and serve with flavorful and fatty meats.