Kick Off Grilling Season With a Juicy, Flavor-Packed Upgrade on Lamb Chops
Nothing says spring like bright, fresh green herbs. And when you pair them with lamb? You've got the ultimate seasonal meal. In this week's episode of Mad Genius: Home Edition, our Culinary Director-at-Large Justin Chapple prepares his recipe for lamb shoulder chops with herb and sunflower seed salad, a dish that he describes as easy and foolproof. After all, lamb shoulder chops—sometimes called lamb blade chops, he notes—have "plenty of fat," so they're pretty forgiving, and the bones also help ensure that they'll stay flavorful and juicy, too. Paired with a quick marinade and an equally quick, simple salad, this meal is one you'll want to put on repeat all the way through to summer.
Read on for Justin's tips and methods, and follow along with the video above.
Start with the Marinade
Justin says this marinade will make the lamb "burst with sort of spring and early summer flavors." To make it, he grabs whole coriander seeds and black peppercorns and coarsely grinds them with a mortar and pestle. Once they're roughly pulverized, they go in a mixing bowl with extra-virgin olive oil, finely grated lemon zest and fresh lemon juice, and a little bit of kosher salt. After a quick whisk, the marinade is ready to go on the lamb.
Prick the Lamb Chops
Justin has a tip for getting the marinade to permeate the lamb, and all you need is a fork. Take it and prick the chops all over on both sides—then, rub the marinade on both sides of the chops as well, allowing them to sit for 15 minutes at room temperature so the flavor really sets in.
To cook these lamb chops, you'll want your grill on very high heat (500°F to 550°F), with your grates oiled right before grilling so the meat doesn't stick. Then, all you have to do is grill them for about four to five minutes on each side until the internal temperature reaches 130°F (this would achieve medium, feel free to cook to your desired level of doneness). Be sure to let them rest for five minutes after cooking.
Put Together the Salad
As opposed to a leafy greens salad, this green salad is all about herbs—five of them, in fact. You'll need fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves, cilantro leaves, dill sprigs, mint leaves, and chives, too. Add them all to a bowl along with the roasted sunflower seed kernels and use tongs to mix everything together.
Make the Dressing
To match the lemon flavor in the lamb marinade, Justin incorporates fresh lemon juice into the salad dressing too, along with honey, extra-virgin olive oil, and kosher salt. After a quick whisk, drizzle it onto the salad and use your tongs to give the mixture another toss.
With the salad and lamb done, you're all set to eat. Be sure to get a bit of both in every bite, as Justin does in the video.
"That lamb has so much flavor on its own, but it's even better because of that lemon and coriander marinade," he says. "And that herb salad, man, is it vibrant. It's literally like screaming spring, it's screaming early summer. This recipe is quick, it's easy, it's foolproof, and I know you can do it too."