So at Whole Foods we saw they had Lamb Shoulder chops for $2.99/lb. We don't really eat enough lamb, and at that price I figured it was worth experimenting.

So I picked up 4 chops. Now, I knew next to nothing about lamb of any sort, so I spent some time on the internet. I found that the cut I got is the least desirable cut (this explains the price) and is most often braised. Now, I've had this cut at a restaurant and I knew it could be delicious, but I couldn't really find any recipes that seemed to account for the toughness--a lot of people suggested olive oil marinades, but that, in my experience, doesn't seem to really do very much. I did read that lamb chops and pork chops can, for the most part, be prepared the same way (many recipes said either lamb or pork for various things).

I've made Alton Brown's pork chops recently, and got them spot on--they were delicious. So I decided to go that route.


Here's what I did...

Alton's recipe for pork chops uses 2 cups of cider vinegar, 2 cups of water, a cup of salt and a cup of brown sugar, and a few other things. I didn't want to make it taste just the same, and several of the recipes I'd skimmed had a balsamic vinegar braise. So I threw caution to the wind and Made Shit Up.

The brine

  • 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 cup lime juice (I wanted lemon juice but lime is what I had)
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup kosher salt (if you use regular salt only use 2/3 cup)
  • 1 tablespoon mustard powder
  • 2 tablespoons rosemary
  • 3 cups water

I combined the balsamic and the lime juice and heated it in the microwave until it was warm to the touch, but still well shy of boiling. Into a large container (Smart & Final carries ones very similar to what AB uses -- big plastic squarish things). Add a cup of water. Drop in the sugar, mustard powder and rosemary. Mix well and let stand 10 minutes to let the heat do its thing.

Now, the real recipe says to put in 1 pound of ice, but my freezer is too small for that much ice. So I just got 2 cups nice and cold water and added that. In went the lamb chops.

These I brined for four hours.

When I was ready to grill, coated them generously with freshly ground black pepper and grilled 4 minutes per side (rotating after 2 minutes to get that "ooooh, grilled food!" look). They came out quite rare, which is exactly what I wanted. They were absolutely delicious.

I also made a simple creamed spinach (i'll post that next), a caesar salad (romaine lettuce, Ghirardi's creamy caesar, shredded parm--forgot to get croutons for it) and a french bread from Safeway. All in all it's probably the second best piece of lamb I've ever had...this dish will be repeated.
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