Lamb Loin Chops in Sheep Dip

July 27, 2012

I know plenty of people who swear they don’t care for lamb, but let make a convert of you with this savory, succulent version.

lamb loin chops on grill

If you say you don’t like lamb, you probably really mean you don’t like the preparation of lamb you were served. If you have never savored the rich, tender, beefy (never gamey) flavor of a lamb loin chop, you are missing what I consider to be the best nugget of red meat in the world. Period. Really. No cow.

Loin chops are the porterhouse steaks of the lamb, with a T-bone separating the strip steak on one side and the filet mignon on the other. But they are a lot smaller than beef porterhouses. The best, cut 1.5 to 2″ thick, are no bigger than a child’s fist.

Lamb is a traditional spring dish, and this recipe uses an extremely quick and easy marinade and cooking technique. The marinade, I call it my Sheep Dip, is great on all cuts of lamb including rack, leg, and kabobs. If you don’t think you like lamb, try this and you may swear off beef for life. The output is amazingly flavorful and tender and juicy and succulent and…

Serve with another spring dish, grilled asparagus. Asparagus reaches its peak flavor when grilled. Seasoned, grilled, drizzled with good olive oil and balsamic vinegar, and topped with curls of Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, this is by far my favorite prep. Click here for my recipe for grilled asparagus.

And complete the plate with yet another spring treat, new potatoes. Click here for my recipe for a Warm French Potato Salad that is also the World’s Easiest Potato Salad.

Finally, a big rich red wine. Break out the good stuff for this dinner.


Yield. 2 servings
Preparing and aging the marinade.
45 minutes.
Marination time. 20 minutes, max.

6 lamb loin chops, about 1.5 – 2″ thick, enough for two people
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup olive oil
1/8 cup toasted sesame oil
3 tablespoons fresh rosemary, stripped from the stems
6 cloves of fresh garlic, minced or pressed
1/2 teaspoon salt

About the lamb. Loin chops are the most tender and juicy meat on the animal, but the chops are small. Be sure to get them thick. You must serve them rare to medium rare.

About the rosemary. If you have fresh rosemary, chop it up so it will ooze it’s deliciousness into the marinade. If you use dried rosemary, crush it with a mortar and pestle or grind it between your palms. Alex Sebastian, owner of the famed Wooden Angel restaurant in Beaver, PA, near Pittsburgh, has been seen to serve a fresh sprig of rosemary with his lamb chops and then flagellate them at tableside. That’s right, he beats the meat with the rosemary sprig. And it works! The flavorful oils in fresh rosemary are right on the surface and they give the meat a nice lift.


Do this
1) Whisk everything but the lamb in a bowl. Let the marinade sit for 30 minutes so the flavors marry.

2) Pour the marinade into non-reactive pan large enough to hold all the meat, but not a lot larger. Then add the chops. Turn them over so all sides are wet, and let them sit for 10 minutes per side. You can crowd them in. Do not marinate any longer than 20 minutes. You will regret it if you do. This meat soaks up the flavor and you don’t want to hide the meat’s own taste.

3) Get a good hot grill. As hot as you can get it. Grill about 5 minutes per side, until rare. It’s OK if they char a bit, but don’t burn and for heaven’s sake, do not overcook! Let the hot meat sit for 5 minutes to re-absorb the juices. Serve.

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