Parmesan Garlic Lamb Chops

December 8, 2009

I don’t know about you but I tend to eat a lot of chicken and fish, and sometimes you just need to change things up.  I had never cooked lamb before, but after seeing it in a few recipes I  made up my mind to try it.  I did some homework first, and found that loin, shank and leg cuts are comparable to beef and pork with regards to calories and saturated fat.  (About 150 calories per a 3 oz serving, and 2-3 g of sat fat.)  And, as it turns out, lamb isn’t as marbled as beef so it’s easier to trim the fat away before cooking.  Well!  This all seemed quite promising, so I rolled up my sleeves and got cooking.

The recipe I started with called for a rack of lamb, which I was all about until I got to the butcher’s counter.  WELL THEN.   If you’ve bought one, you know what I discovered.  I quickly switched my plan to loin chops, and the end result seemed just fine.   Well, more than just fine.  It was stinkin’ delicious, ya’ll.

I seasoned the chops with some salt and pepper, then browned them in a pan with 2 T of olive oil (for about a pound of meat.)  They browned for about 4 minutes on each side, and then switched over to a plate to await their coating.

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I mixed together 1/4 cup of bread crumbs and 1T of grated pecorino romano.  (This is what I had on hand; most of the recipes called for parmesan.)  I coated them with a dollop of Dijon mustard (officially, prob a tsp each side of each loin… but it’s mustard, mkay?) and then another tsp of minced garlic on each side.  After they got their wet bath from the mustard/garlic, I patted on the bread crumbs/parmesan mixture.  A spritz from the olive oil mister and into the oven at 450 F they went! 

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They cooked for 15 minutes, while I prepared the sides. 

To go along with our chops, I made these roasted veggies from Trader Joe’s.  They are quite possibly the best frozen vegetables I’ve ever encountered.  (Unfortunately, to obtain them I have to drive a mere 160 miles down to Charlotte and back.)

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I also threw a handful of frozen spinach into the pan where I had browned the meat, with another tablespoon of olive oil.  I was thinking browned meat fat + spinach would = deliciousness.  I was wrong.  If anyone has a good suggestion for cooking spinach, please please let me know!  This was terrible. 

BUT, spinach disaster aside, the rest of dinner was fantastic.  The loin chops had just the right amount of garlic and crunchy coating without being overpowering, and the meat was super tender.  While I don’t think lamb will show up in my regular rotation, this is definitely a keeper and would make a great dish for a special occasion.  Minus, of course, the spinach.  Sorry, Popeye.

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Recipe* 

(I didn’t actually use one, I just looked at three or four and got the gist of them and went from there.  This is just one example and comes from Emeril, 2003.)

Ingredients

  • 1 rack of lamb, trimmed (about 1 1/2 pounds)
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 1/4 cup seasoned bread crumbs
  • 1 tablespoon grated Parmesan

Directions

Season rack of lamb well on all sides with salt and pepper. Heat a medium skillet over high heat and, when hot, add the oil. When the oil is almost smoking, add the rack of lamb and brown well on all sides, about 6 minutes. Transfer the lamb to a plate and set aside to cool slightly before proceeding.

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.

Using the back of a spoon, spread the mustard evenly over all sides of the lamb. Spread the minced garlic over the lamb in the same manner.

In a small mixing bowl combine the breadcrumbs and grated cheese and toss to thoroughly combine. Using your hands or a spoon, spread the breadcrumb mixture evenly all over the lamb, pressing so that the crumbs adhere to the meat.

Place the rack of lamb on a baking sheet and bake for 12 to 15 minutes for medium-rare. Allow lamb to sit for 5 to 10 minutes before carving into chops to serve.

As soon as it gets somewhat cold outside, I just start getting this compulsive urge to roast every single vegetable I come across.  I’d never thought of roasting onions as a stand-alone (just mixed in with some other root veggies), but there was a recipe in October’s issue of Everyday Food that made them look so scrump I couldn’t resist.  I was cooking steaks and homemade potato fries to celebrate the end of internal medicine month for Matt, and I thought roasted onions would be a great complement.

Celebratory dinner menu: spice-rubbed sirloin steaks, homemade tater fries, roasted onions, crusty bread.

I started with 2 6 oz spuds and used my brand stinkin’ new KitchenAid multi slicer to make the tater slices.  So much easier than doing them by hand!  I never got them evenly sliced, so I was always having a few burnt or a few mushy ones on the cooking sheet.  (Thank you, Mom!  We found this lovely device on sale at HomeGoods and my mom was kind enough to no-reason gift it to me.)

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Once sliced, I throw the taters in a ziploc baggy with about 2 tsp of olive oil and give ‘em a really vigorous shake.  Then I pour ‘em on a cookie sheet and sprinkle them with either kosher salt or a little bit of seasoning salt, depending on what kind of mood we’re in.  (Tonight was a seasoning salt kind of night.)

 

Those go in the oven at 450 for 15-ish minutes.  I really don’t know exactly how long they take, I am frequently opening up the oven to test them.  I apologize for my lack of exactness.

On to the onions!

Start with a gorgeous red onion.

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Chop, chop, chop.  Into wedges.  Throw in a bowl and add in some peeled garlic cloves.  Drizzle one tablespoon of olive oil over everything and then sprinkle liberally with rosemary.

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Before you put it all in the oven, lean in a get a big sniff.  Onions, garlic and rosemary OH MY!  Your house is going to start smell delicioso in about 2 minutes.  These also go in your 450 oven (convienent!) and they’ll take 15 minutes to roast.  If you remember, sneak over and give ‘em a flip about half way through.  I was busy manning the grill and forget to do this – turned out fine.

When they’re done, you MUST must must drizzle them with a little bit of white wine vinegar.  This was the yummy clincher.  The combination of the savory oil and the hint of vinegar worked really well.

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Serve and eat!

Roasted Acorn Squash Wedges

October 26, 2009

My friend Jamie gave me an acorn squash from her neighbor’s garden, and it’s been making a lovely centerpiece on my fall-themed table for quite some time now. I’d googled a few recipes on how to cook it, and there seemed to be a few common themes: butter and brown sugar. I’ve never eaten an acorn squash before, but I figured 171,000 Google hits can’t be wrong… butter and brown sugar it is. I KNOW. Hey, everything in moderation, my dear readers.

Acorn Squash

Acorn Squash

Turn your oven on to 350 F. Start with an acorn squash. Cut in half. This turned out to be very challenging, and thankfully did not result with me going to visit my husband at his place of employment, the ER. “Hi honey… was cooking dinner and… would you care for some squash while you stitch me up?” So, be very careful, slicing up your acorn squash. (Please note, that is not proper knife technique but it is very hard to hold a camera and cutting utensils. I do not recommend trying.)

Slice squash, not fingers.

Slice squash, not fingers.

Then scoop out the inside, as if it were a pumpkin. I briefly considered saving the seeds to roast (and a google search later tells me you could do this), but decided to just focus on the task at hand.

Scoop the goop out.

Scoop the goop out.

Next cut the acorn up into slices, like a melon. Arrange the slices in a baking dish, and drizzle with a little bit of olive oil. Roast in the pre-heated oven for 20 minutes.

Drizzle with olive oil.

Drizzle with olive oil.

While it’s cooking, mash together 2 T butter and 1/4 cup of brown sugar. Try not to eat the concoction while you wait for the squash to roast. When they’re done, mash the paste on to each slice of squash and then stick it back in the oven for another 30 minutes.

Butter.

Butter & Sugar Mash-up

Ready to Roast, Round Two

Ready to Roast, Round Two

After 30 minutes, they should be done. You can stick a fork in one just to make sure they’re squishy. Before serving, scoop up some of the sauce that’s gathered in the pan and drizzle on top, just to really seal the deal.

Drizzle the good stuff on there.

Drizzle the good stuff on there.

This would obviously work as a side dish, but I actually had this as my dinner tonight. I paired it with a slice of Ezekiel bread with some marionberry jam (Thanks, Seattle-dwelling Jen!!), and it was a delicious, if not a tad sweet, dinner. BUT, I’ve been fighting the urge to bust into the Halloween candy I bought today, so this hit the sweet spot cravings I’ve been having and was certainly a lot healthier. Very yummy, and now that I know what to do with acorn squash, I may be lurking around friends’ gardens more often.

Dinner is served!

Dinner is served!

The Stats:
1. Heat oven to 350 F.
2. Half acorn squash, scoop out the insides, cut into slices.
3. Drizzle with 2 T olive oil.
4. Roast for 20 minutes.
5. Mix together 2 T softened butter and 1/4 cup brown sugar.
6. Rub on squash slices when they’re done roasting.
7. Put squash back into oven for 30 minutes, roast again.
8. Drizzle yummy goop from butter/sugar back on to slices, serve.

According to my fave recipe analyzer, if you served 4 from this it’d be about 190 calories per serving. That actually surprises me – I would have thought it was a bit higher, taken into account all the butter and oil. But, youu can certainly find recipes that are a little heavier handed on the butter/sugar combo, and I thought my version had plenty of yummy goodness to drizzle on top. It definitely could be a great side dish for the holidays, or eaten as a main course like I did. Either way: deliciousness awaits you.

On our first date, Matt took me to Village Tavern, a favorite restaurant to many here in Winston-Salem. VT became our favorite date night place, and we’ve been there for every important celebration meal since we lived in Winston. After Matt proposed to me in a nearby garden, we walked over to Village Tavern where I found both of our families waiting there as a surprise to celebrate with us. A few weeks ago when we went to VT we were asked to fill out a survey of our experience. One of the questions was “How many times have you visited the Tavern?” We did some quick math and figured out that after 9 years in Winston, we had probably been close to fifty times.

All that is to introduce my at-home VT chips. VT is known for their delicious homemade potato chips – they are so perfectly sliced, and there always seems to be a mixture of some soft chips and some crispy chips. We don’t get the chips every time, as we know they’re not exactly the healthiest choice but they are one of our favorite treats.

So I decided to see if I could master the VT chips at home, and try to health-ify them a little bit. I use 4 oz of potatoes per person (FYI, each 1 oz of raw potato is abt 20 cals) and slice them reeeeeally thin. Laid them out on a cookie sheet, sprayed them down with Pam Olive Oil and baked at 450 degrees for about 10 minutes. A quick sprinkle of Kosher salt and paprika and onion powder and they were done. SO. GOOD.

VT Chips

VT Chips

Don’t worry, VT, we’ll still be back but I’ll definitely be making these chips at home! My next step is to purchase a mandolin so I can make the slices a little more even – that was the only challenge with cooking these because mine were slightly uneven, and some of the slices were still a little undercooked as other ones were getting crispy.

(As you can see, we really went for pretend restaurant at home. These chix soy patties from Morningstar make me feel just like we’re eating another Southern favorite, Chik-Fil-A patties!)

Fave Product: Morningstar Chix Patties

Fave Product: Morningstar Chix Patties

Fake Out

Fake Out

Potlucky

July 2, 2009

A few years ago, my friend Emily brought a salad to our house for a cookout and every since then it has become a staple in our household. I could eat this morning, noon and night – I’m not kidding. And, it’s absurdly simple to make. Emily had a recipe, but after following it the few times, it started becoming a pantry-dump salad.

If you’ve got 4th of July plans and need a healthy but yummy dish to take with you: here’s your dish!

Throw It Together, Mix It Up

Throw It Together, Mix It Up

The general ingredients are beans, corns, tomatoes, onions and jalapenos if you like a little kick. Then the whole thing gets tossed together with 1/4 cup of olive oil or a light Italian dressing. I like olive oil with just a pinch of salt and lots of pepper, along with fresh garlic.

Simple Dressing: OO, Salt, Pepper

Simple Dressing: OO, Salt, Pepper

The last one I made had kidney beans, black beans, corn, onions, tomatoes, and jalapenos. Based on these ingredients (one 15 oz can of each of the beans, 1 cup corn, 1 tomato) and the 1/4 c olive oil, it was 220 calories per serving. (My batch was 16 servings.) And it has 8 g of fiber AND 12 g of protein. We started making this as a side dish, but with those stats, I often eat it for lunch as my main entree!

Ready to Eat!

Ready to Eat!