Lamb Chops with Moroccan Spice Rub and Apricot Risotto

These grass-fed lamb chops from U.S. Wellness Meats are rich in taste and perfect for grilling.  We marinated the lamb chops in a wet spice rub of classic Moroccan herbs and spices, and paired the grilled chops with a creamy risotto spiked with Turkish apricots and pistachios for a dinner worthy of any special occasion.  This recipe would also work with a full rack of lamb.

The choice of rice for the risotto is essential for the best texture and flavor.  The most widely available rice suitable for making risotto is Arborio white rice.  Carnaroli is also very good, but is more difficult to find.  Risotto takes about 15-20 minutes to cook – the rice is done when it is al dente – firm to the bite, but tender all the way through.  It should be creamy in texture, but not mushy.

This recipe is part of our feature on U.S. Wellness Meats, “Music and Meals to Warm You Up“.  Visit their website for free-range chicken, grass-fed beef, and other great products!

Yield: 2 generous servings.

Lamb Chops with Spice Rub Ingredients:

  • Small bunches of fresh cilantro and parsley, large stems removed (about 1/2 cup, packed)
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
  • Zest of one lemon
  • 2 teaspoons minced ginger
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon sweet paprika
  • 1 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon allspice
  • 1/2 tablespoon raw (turbinado) sugar or honey
  • 2 packages U.S. Wellness Meats Lamb Rib Chops  (each package contains approximately 4 chops, cut into couplets)

In a small food processor, pulse together the cilantro, parsley, garlic, lemon zest, ginger and olive oil.  Add the remaining ingredients (except lamb chops) and process until a pesto-like consistency is reached.  Add more olive oil, if needed.  Rub the spice paste over all surfaces of the lamb chops.  Allow to marinate in refrigerator for at least 4 hours.  Remove from refrigerator about an hour before grilling.

Set up a grill for direct cooking at 400F.  When coals are ready, place the rib chops on the grill, fat side down, for 5 minutes.  Flip the chops over and grill, rib side down, for 5 minutes.  Finish by grilling the chops on each side for approximately 2 minutes per side, or until the internal temperature at the center of the chop is 125-130F. Remove the chops from the grill, tent with foil to keep warm, and allow to rest for ten minutes.

Note: These times are for chops cut into couplets – 2 bones per chop.  Shorten cooking time if grilling individual chops, or adjust as needed if cooking an intact rack of chops.

Apricot Risotto Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 shallots, finely chopped
  • 1 cup Arborio rice
  • approximately 4 cups of light meat broth (you will probably not use all the broth)
  • 6-7 dried Turkish apricots, chopped
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • A drizzle of high quality extra-virgin olive oil
  • Chopped roasted pistachios, to garnish

Some cooks keep the broth at a simmer on the stove while cooking the risotto, which helps keep the cooking temperature for the rice constant.  I have found that this is not completely necessary for good risotto.  I use broth that is at room temperature most of the time.

Using a large, heavy-bottomed pot (such as a Dutch oven), heat the butter and olive oil over medium-high heat.  Sauté the shallots for several minutes, until softened.  Add the rice and continue to sauté until the rice is coated with the butter and becomes partially translucent (about 2 minutes).

Reduce the heat to medium.  Add about 2/3 cup of broth to the pan while stirring (just eye-ball the amount).  Continue to cook, stirring frequently, until the broth is mostly adsorbed.  Add another portion of broth and simmer, stirring frequently, until the broth is nearly adsorbed again.  Keep repeating this for about 15 minutes before tasting the rice to check doneness.  The rice should be still firm, but tender all the way through, when done (al dente).

Toward the end of the cooking time, stir in the chopped apricots.  Season with kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste.

When the rice is done, remove from heat and stir in the cream and Parmesan cheese.  Allow to rest for a couple of minutes, then stir again vigorously.

Serve the lamb chops over the risotto.  Drizzle with a little high-quality extra-virgin olive oil, and garnish with chopped pistachios.

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11 thoughts on “Lamb Chops with Moroccan Spice Rub and Apricot Risotto

  1. Although your lamb and risotto look fabulous what really caught my attention was the quote about bees and honey. Being a hobby beekeeper I had to save that quote for future use. Glad to have found your blog – it looks like a good one to visit frequently.

    1. Thank you – we’re glad you found us! We really appreciate the beekeepers – for helping with pollination of our crops for one thing – but oh, the wonderful honey is quite another! I will be visiting your blog as well – it is lovely.

    1. You could probably cook the lamb chops in the oven. I would first sear them in a heavy oven-proof skillet on the stove top on both sides, about 3 minutes a side. Then put the skillet in a 400F oven and allow them to cook to desired doneness (probably 8-10 minutes, depending on how thick the meat is). Then let the chops rest for 5-10 minutes before serving.

      The risotto can’t be cooked in the oven as far as I know, but you can cook it while the chops are in the oven and resting.

  2. I had been so excited to make this recipe all week. I used whole rack of lamb, and the grilling time was perfect yielding perfectly rare meat. For the risotto I just used about 1/4c of coconut milk in place of the cream/cheese and it was phenomenal! Thanks so much for this great recipe!

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