Grilled loin lamb chops bring together flavour, tenderness and texture in a delicious dish that can be served with roast or fried potatoes, rice or couscous. In Portugal, these exquisite cuts of meat are simply grilled or fried with simple seasoning to enhance the flavour of the meat. Sintra, the ultimate romantic destination to the north of Lisboa, is renowned for excellent quality lamb and high quality butchers.
As with all Portuguese gastronomy, the main objective is to showcase the freshness and quality of the main ingredients through simple flavours and cooking processes. This recipe calls on rosemary (alecrim) and lemon to gently flavour a perfectly seasoned lamb cutlet. The simplicity is deceiving as the herb is at the core of an ancient dispute with marjoram (marjoram) recounted by António José da Silva in the play “Guerras do alecrim e manjerona” (Wars of rosemary and marjoram) performed at Teatro do Bairo Alto de Lisboa in the carnival of 1737. Coincidently, the “war” is said to be associated with Sintra so one would readily speculate that the dispute was about lamb chop seasoning… Incidentally, this recipe aligns with the alecrim side… the marjoram reprise might well come soon…
4 Lamb chops
1 Crushed garlic clove
Juice of 1 lemon plus rind
3 Tbsp olive oil
3 Tbsp chopped fresh rosemary
1 small fresh red chillie
Course sea salt
1. Warm up a griddle or BBQ. Salt the lamb chops generously just before grilling and … grill! Watch the middle side of the cutlet as you grill and turn just as the side is starting to colour. Ideally you want the meat well seared but medium rare in the middle.
2. For the sauce, crush one garlic clove with some salt in a mortar and pestle or with a knife then add the olive oil, lemon juice, rind and finely chopped rosemary and red chillie. Alternatively, all ingredients can be roughly blended in a food processor. In any case, taste the sauce and season before serving…
3. Once the lamb chops are cooked (3-4 minutes per side depending on thickness – make sure middle is still pink), remove from heat, pour the sauce and serve immediately with your choice of potatoes, rice, couscous or stir fried greens.