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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.
Yield: 2 generous servings.
Lamb Chops with Spice Rub Ingredients:
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:
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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