These oh so delicious herbed lamb chops are the perfect way to change up your dinner routine and impress your family or your guests.
If you subscribe to my newsletter, you know that I've been exploring the Mediterranean diet and how it might be beneficial to someone with celiac or a gluten disorder.
To help with this exploration I joined a Mediterranean Cooking Facebook group and have be so wonderfully pleased and impressed by all the photos and recipes that folks are sharing.
This Herbed Lamb Chop with Moroccan "Couscous" recipe is adopted from a post in this group by Elena Gahret. Thanks Elena and everyone who shares their recipes and tips.
If you grew up in North America like me, it’s possible that you’re not very familiar with lamb. It’s strange in a way because lamb is common in the countries most of us, or our parents and grandparents immigrated from.
Now you can get lamb in most supermarkets, or you can look for a farm near you for a local supply. Lamb in supermarkets often comes from New Zealand or Australia which are the world’s leading producers of lamb.
Cooking techniques are similar to beef. You can grill, braise, or roast lamb depending on the cut you choose. Lamb can be served a little pink, think medium to medium-rare. It’s not typically served as rare as beef may be.
Lamb, like all whole fresh cuts of meat, is naturally gluten-free, regardless of what the animal was fed. For more on gluten and meat go here.
Lamb chops look a lot like teeny tiny T-bone steaks. You may be surprised by how small they are.
This herbed lamb chops recipe, like many Mediterranean dishes calls for a superbly flavorful blend of fresh herbs.
Using herbs in your cooking adds flavor and complexity, allowing you to back off on salt and sugar which many recipes rely on a little too heavily.
Herbs also add vitamins and minerals to your dish which is a bonus that makes it so worth while to experiment more with adding herbs to your cooking.
I love to grow fresh herbs in pots on my back deck in the summer, or indoors in pots or in my AeroGarden in winter. It’s lovely to be able to snip off a few fresh leaves to add to salads, soups, stews or whatever recipe I’m making. If growing stuff is not your thing, you can get fresh herbs at the market, or the dried herbs in jars works just fine. A general rule of thumb is that a teaspoon of dried herbs equals approximately a tablespoon of fresh chopped herbs.
Consider the herbs in any recipes to be a suggestion. Don’t be afraid to play around with different flavors and if you don’t have a particular herb that’s called for, you may be able to leave it out or substitute.
If you see a particular blend of herbs coming up repeatedly in recipes you can mix up extra and store it in a jar. That way you'll have enough for several recipes. You can also buy herb and spice blends for convenience. For example Italian seasoning, herbs de Provence, or lemon and herb combinations. If buying blends of herbs and spices be sure to read labels. Most individual herbs or spices are gluten-free but blends sometimes have fillers which could contain gluten.
Just a touch of acid in any recipe gives it a nice surprising little "snap" in your mouth. It can be the difference between a good dish and one that has that certain "je ne sais quois" as they might say in one particular Mediterranean country.
Acid in a marinade helps the flavors of the marinade to penetrate the meat and also helps to tenderize the meat.
In this case I've chosen apple cider vinegar for my herbed lamb chops. Fruity flavors tend to compliment lamb and the ACV is strong enough to not be overpowered by the lamb.
If you've heard anything about the health benefits of the Mediterranean diet then you've heard about heart healthy olive oil.
Olive oil is high in monounsaturated fats which are shown to reduce inflammation. They may also have protective properties against cancer and insulin resistance.
Some people worry about cooking with olive oil. This is because the smoke point (approx 406°F) is lower than some other oils. There is no reason for concern. Olive oil is a stable cooking oil and is safe even for pan frying and grilling1.
In the case of our herbed lamb chops, the olive oil helps the herb mixture to adhere to the lamb chops. It also aids browning while on the grill, giving you that beautiful caramel color.
4-6 lamb loin chops
4 cloves garlic minced
About 1.5 tbsp. each of fresh oregano, thyme, rosemary, basil and sage, all finely chopped.
If using dried herbs about 1 tsp each.
1 tbsp. fresh mint chopped (optional – I added this because I like mint with lamb)
3 tbsp. olive oil
1 ½ tbsp. apple cider vinegar
Pat the lamb chops dry with a paper towel and rub with the herb mixture. Marinade for at least an hour or up to 24 hours.
Grill for about 3 ½ minutes per side or until your meat thermometer reads about 145° for medium. Lamb can be a bit pink in the middle but is not typically served as rare as beef steak.
Let the chops rest for 5 minutes loosely covered.
Our Facebook poster, Elena served her lamb chops with a Lebanese "toum" that she found at a farmers market. Toum is a simple garlic sauce that's made from garlic, salt, lemon juice and oil. It's quite similar to it's Greek cousin tzatziki and you could certainly use tzatziki if you have some on hand.
I did a cheater toum for my lamb by quickly mixing up:
½ cup mayonnaise
3 to 5 cloves garlic, minced – depending on how garlicy you want it
2 tbsp. lemon juice
Pinch of salt
Optional – 1 tbsp. chopped fresh mint
I added some mint to my sauce just because I felt it would compliment the lamb nicely, and it did!
You could serve your herbed lamb chops with potato or rice if you like, but I chose to stick with a gluten-free version of the original Facebook post.
Couscous is a traditional Mediterranean dish made with wheat flour and water. That's why I have "couscous" in quotes.
Go here for my Gluten-Free Moroccan "Couscous" Recipe.