Top chop a delicious dinner

Last updated 14:06 29/06/2014
Lamb Chop
CAMERON BURNELL/FAIRFAX
Ruth Pretty's lamb chop on quinoa and cranberry salad.

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As a child we ate lamb chops at least once a week. My mother considered it a quick meal: grilled lamb chops, mashed potato, green peas and grilled tomato.

There is nothing quite like a tasty grilled lamb chop, but go the extra mile and ask your butcher for a thick-cut option and, suddenly, chops become luxurious.

GRILLED LAMB CHOPS WITH WARM QUINOA CRANBERRY DILL SALAD

Serves 6-12

If only cooking six lamb chops, use half the marinade and freeze the remainder for another time.

Ingredients 45ml (3 Tbsp) Dijon mustard

2 tsp crushed garlic

30ml (2 Tbsp) balsamic vinegar

1/2 tsp flaky sea salt

1/8 tsp freshly ground black pepper

125ml ( 1/2 cup) olive oil, and extra for cooking chops

3 Tbsp coarsely chopped rosemary leaves

2kg (12) 4cm-thick rib lamb chops, excess fat removed if you wish

Quinoa Cranberry Dill Salad

6 handfuls rocket

Place mustard, garlic, balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper into a bowl and mix together.

Slowly pour in olive oil, whisking as you pour to form a creamy marinade. Add rosemary and stir together.

Lay out lamb chops in a dish and drizzle with some of the marinade. Turn chops over and drizzle with remainder of marinade.

Cover dish and place in refrigerator for minimum 1 hour or - better still - overnight.

Preheat a stove-top flat-plate or barbecue to high. Lightly grease cooking surface with additional olive oil.

Grill or barbecue chops for 4-5 minutes on each side, or until medium-rare; browned on the outside and pink and juicy in the centre. Remove chops from heat onto a tray. Cover tray with a heavy tea towel and rest chops for 10 minutes away from heat.

Place chops onto warmed plates. Nestle the Quinoa Cranberry Dill Salad around the chops and scatter rocket leaves around the plate.

QUINOA CRANBERRY DILL SALAD

Serves 8-10

I love the nutty flavour and texture of quinoa. It is a gluten-free grain, high in protein and fibre compared with other grains.

Ingredients 15ml (1 Tbsp) olive oil

90g ( 1/2) onion, finely diced

1 clove garlic, crushed

375ml (1 1/2 cups) water

175g (1 cup) quinoa

1/2 tsp flaky sea salt (1st measure)

95g (3/4 cup) pistachio nuts

105g (3/4 cup) pomegranate- flavoured Craisins (a brand name for dried cranberries)

75g (3) radishes, topped, tailed and cut into small wedges

1 tsp cinnamon

1 Tbsp Preserved Lemon Peel including oil and aromatics, thinly sliced (or alternatively substitute 1 1/2 tsp finely grated lemon zest)

3 Tbsp finely sliced dill

30ml (2 Tbsp) lemon juice

1 tsp flaky sea salt (2nd measure)

1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper

extra virgin olive oil to drizzle

Pour oil into a medium-sized pot set over a medium heat and heat until hot.

Add onion and cook, stirring regularly, for 3-4 minutes or till onion is soft and translucent. Add garlic and cook for a further 1 minute.

Add water, quinoa and first measure of salt and stir to combine. Bring to the boil. Cover with a lid and reduce heat to a simmer. Simmer for 10-12 minutes or till water is absorbed and quinoa is tender.

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Remove from heat, gently and briefly stir, replace lid and leave to sit for 5 minutes.

Preheat oven to 150'C. Place pistachios on a small tray and into oven. Roast pistachios for 5 minutes or until they begin to smell nutty.

Pour quinoa into a wide bowl and, using a large fork, fluff it up.

Add pistachios, Craisins, radishes, cinnamon, Preserved Lemon Peel (or finely grated lemon zest), dill, lemon juice, salt and pepper to quinoa and gently toss together. Generously drizzle with extra virgin olive oil.

Serve warm with the lamb chops.

PRESERVED LEMON PEEL

Makes 20g

This is the cheat's way of making preserved lemon peel to use in place of preserved lemons.

Ingredients 4 lemons

30ml (2 Tbsp) lemon juice

1/4 cup table salt

50g (1/4 cup) sugar

3 fresh bay leaves, thinly sliced

1 red chilli, deseeded and coarsely chopped

45ml-60ml (3-4 Tbsp) extra virgin olive oil

Using a vegetable peeler, remove peel from lemons being careful not to include white pith. Place peel into a small bowl.

Add lemon juice, salt, sugar, bay leaves and chilli. Stir to combine.

Cover with plastic wrap and leave in refrigerator for 2 hours.

Tip lemon mixture into a sieve and run under cold water to rinse off the salt.

Transfer to a clean tea towel and dry thoroughly. Use immediately or place in a sterilised jar. Pour in extra virgin olive oil just to cover.

Store refrigerated for up to one month.

TOP TIP If you have difficulty cooking the meat medium-rare without over-browning the exterior, finish cooking the chops in a 180'C oven.

- The Dominion Post

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