Friday, February 24, 2012

Grilled Mediterranean Lamb Shoulder Chops Won't Give The Cold Shoulder

Mediterranean Lamb Ain’t Misbehavin’

Grilled Mediterranean Lamb Chops with Pickled Onions
and Asparagus in Ghee
Oh, you will feel the love from these Lamb Shoulder Chops, grilled to perfection. No cold shoulder for you! These tasty lamb chops combine so many things I adore – lamb, fresh herbs (I grow them in pots on my patio), lemon zest, freshly squeezed lemon juice, and olive oil.

Best of all? These Mediterranean-style grilled lamb chops are brought to you by the color Brown. Cooked to medium rare over a blazing hot fire sears the outside, creating tantalizingly crispy rendered “crust” while preserving the moisture of the delicate flesh
inside the lamb shoulder chops.

I know. I can hear you…”Hey, Fluffy Chix, isn’t your site all about eating right, all in one bite?"

Sadly, no. Apparently not.

You are mistaken.

It should be.

It MUST be.

One day.

This isn’t that day.

Brown food tastes delicious! Grilled Mediterranean Lamb
Shoulder Chops
We’ll have to have a sit-down one-on-one, and have the facts-of-life talk. Discuss the cancer dangers associated with Brown – those foods cooked over blazingly hot fires.

But not now. Not this paragraph. Not this post. There are certain limits, boundaries, that I am rebellious of crossing.

I’M too young to have that talk!

Why not ask me to give up breathing instead of completely breaking up with Brown? Or tell me to go vegan (not that there’s anything wrong with that, as they say in Seinfeld)…um, but there is.

Stuff wrong with veganism, in my opinion.
Plus, I vowed to become a Vegetarian when I grew up, cuz I loved working with animals so much…

But that’s another discussion.

Don’t be a hater.

Stop it.

Grilled Mediterranean Lamb Shoulder Chop with
Onion Pickles and Sauteed Swiss Chard in Garlic and Pine Nuts
The grilled Mediterranean Lamb Shoulder Chop magically connects with our quick lemon Pickled Onions. The combination of the zesty, zingy, salty, lemony, oniony bite melts into the mild taste of tender lamb and compliments the herby accents of thyme, oregano, rosemary and parsley.

The dish looks complicated.
(But it’snot – haha, I said snot.)

Grilled Lamb Chops with Pickled Onion – Onion Pickles tastes like it takes forever.
(But it doesn’t. Shew! I didn’t say snot again!)

And if you don’t have a grill, you could make the same herb and oil/lemon marinade, sauté the lamb chops in olive oil to brown them and finish with a few minutes in a 350degree oven – the lamb chops, not you. Or better still, get to know your neighbor, then jack their grill – cuz let’s face it. These lamb chops are the bomb when grilled!

(Rumor has it your neighbors are easy. They can be bought for the price of a glass of wine and a lamb chop.)

I’ve taken the time to write out each step of the recipe so you can clearly see the process of marinating and grilling. Learn these steps and the reason why you take those steps, then repeat them and apply the method to any other kind of chop!

Marinating lamb shoulder chops.
The lamb chops in this recipe are about ¾ inch thick. Pork chops, beef chops, venison chops and even chicken breast of the same thickness will grill with the same method. The cooking time may vary, but the method stays the same.

Woohoo! Look at you!  You’re learning a new technique.  You da bomb!

I love lamb. As I mentioned in the Onion Pickle post, most lamb sold in the U.S. comes from animals allowed to feed on grass and aren’t finished with grain – even in big production operations, supermarkets and megalomarts like Sam’s and Costco.

Studies show the nutrient and fatty acid components of grass fed animals differ dramatically from grain fed animals. And hey, you even get the natural forms of Vitamins A, D, E and K along with CLA from grass fed animals. Forms your body can actually assimilate; not the gunk you get from most supplement pills.

The most important element in all of this though, is that the estrogen content in the fat of grass fed animals is significantly lower than their grain-fed counterparts. And that’s important if you have estrogen positive cancer of any kind or if you want to reduce your risk of developing it. And you do want to reduce that risk.

By the way, after we have the facts-of-life talk about Brown, we’ll need to have the come-to-Jaysus-meeting about fat.

But then, YOU’RE too young for that talk.

Oh well, there’s always tomorrow!

Another important lamb fact – warning Nerd Alert! Did you know that much of the lamb sold in the U.S. is imported from New Zealand or Australia? Unless you have been resourceful and secured lamb raised by a local farmer who produces animals organically or “beyond organic.”

Chances are you may actually end up paying more for lamb from domestic sources – think volume baybee! (Sorry American Farmer Brown, but you know I’m tellin’ the truth.) The big stores sellin’ imported lamb buy it in enormous volume and that saves the consumer – me – money. And since I’m broke…not spending what I don’t have – well, it just makes “cents.”

(Oh wait!  You didn't hear? Having cancer and getting treatment causes you to go broke. Yep. It's true!)

New Zealand and Australia have very stringent guidelines about what items their Farmers Brown can give to animals they raise and export. For instance, Farmer Brown in New Zealand or Australia can’t use a lot of the antibiotics, pesticides, growth hormones, worm meds, and fertilizers or GMO crops allowed by Big Agra (ahem, Monsanto/ConAgra), in the United States of America. That’s because many of “those” items are banned in Farmer Brown’s home country.

So although it costs a lot to ship lamb from there to here, from a health perspective and financially, I actually feel pretty secure eating lamb produced by either New Zealand or Australia and it ends up being a little less expensive to boot.

And lamb is much less expensive in my market (Houston) than grass fed beef. About $2.00/less expensive, retail! It’s also leaner – since I have to contend with the breast cancer factor and need to be a miser about the collective estrogen content of all my food, I try to tend towards leaner meats these days. It all adds up! *wah* *sob* *sniff* I used to love “chewin’ the fat!”

Oh, hey, when you’re shopping for the lamb shoulder chops, look for the chops that have a round bone, with the least amount of connective tissue. That means you look for the chops with the fewest number of muscle portions in them. You want to look for the ones that look like it’s an uninterrupted single muscle or two or three. The ones with more meat to connective tissue ratio are more tender.

Now, go. Procure lamb and prosper.

You will feel like you’re misbehavin’ cuz Grilled Mediterranean Lamb Shoulder Chops are so dang, soul-satisfyingly delicious. But as long as you promise not to forget to make the Onion Pickles as one of the sidekicks, your reputation for being an angel remains our little secret,  you little dickens,  you.

Grilled Mediterranean Lamb Shoulder Chops with Onion Pickles
Grilled Mediterranean Lamb Shoulder Chops

Serves – 4 to 6
Prep Time – 10 Minutes
Non-Cooking Time – 1 Hour up to 24 Hours
Cooking Time – 6 Minutes
Post-grill Resting Time – 5-10 Minutes

2lbs Lamb Shoulder Chops
        (3-4 large shoulder chops)
1 Lemon, zested
4 cloves Garlic, pressed
3 Tbsp Rosemary, fresh, chopped
3 Tbsp Italian Flat Leaf Parsley, fresh, chopped
2 Tbsp Thyme, fresh, chopped
2 Tbsp Oregano, fresh, chopped
½ Lemon, juiced
1 Tbsp Worcestershire Sauce
1/4c Olive Oil
2 tsp Kosher or Course Sea Salt
2 tsp Black Pepper, fresh, coarsely ground

Wash and dry all herbs. Strip the leaves off the stems and roughly chop.

Rinse meat under cold running water and dry well, using paper towels.

Zest lemon and reserve uncut lemon for use immediately prior to grilling.

Rub both sides and edges of lamb chops with pressed garlic cloves. Really rub it in well!

Combine lemon zest with chopped herbs and pepper and sprinkle over both sides of lamb chops. Massage herbs into the meat.

Combine Worcestershire with olive oil and drizzle over both sides of lamb chops.

Cover and marinate lamb chops overnight or for at least one hour.

One hour before serving, roll lemon on countertop to release juices. Cut and squeeze fresh lemon juice over both sides of lamb chops.

(Warning! Will Robinson, Danger! Do NOT under any circumstances use those ghastly plastic lemons. Ever. The End. If you don’t have any fresh lemon, then omit it from the dish and substitute cider or balsamic vinegar for the lemon juice. It will be different, but still taste yummy.)

Sprinkle meat with salt just before grilling. Salt will draw juices out of the lamb and lemon juice chemically cooks the meat, so you don’t want to salt or add lemon juice to meat too early. That’s why I didn’t add the salt and lemon juice to the marinade.

When ready to grill, take lamb out of ice box. I like meat to be cold when grilling because it gives me the time necessary over blazing hot heat (ignite or extra high) to brown the outside of the meat without moy-der-izing (murderizing) the inside and over cooking it.

We cook with a propane grill. The instructions would be the same for a gas grill. Feel free to use a charcoal grill or a George Foreman type of grill or a grill pan. The recipe is flexible! You will have to adjust your cooking method accordingly.

Grilling Instructions for Propane Grill
Heat grill on ignite with the lid closed for about 3-5 minutes.  You want it hot, hot, hotty devil, hot!

Place lamb chops over direct heat. Close lid. Don’t be scared.

Cook for 1 minute, lid down.

Open lid after 1 minute and cook for a second minute on that side with the lid up. DON’T you dare touch that meat! Don’t touch it!

After two minutes on side 1, pour any marinade and herbs left on the plate used during marinating the lamb over the exposed side of lamb chops. (That’s the side that’s facing you while on the grill. You’re lookin’ at it!)

Using tongs, flip lamb chops. Close lid and cook for 1 minute, lid down. Try to use tongs and not a fork. Piercing the meat with a fork makes all the juices run out quicker!

Open lid after 1 minute and cook for a second minute on that side with the lid up. Again, resist the urge to fiddle with your lamb chops.

It’s now been 4 minutes, 2 more minutes of cooking to go.

Use tongs to flip lamb chops back over onto side 1, rotating lamb chop about 45 degrees when flipping.

Close lid and cook for 1 minute, lid down.

Open lid after 1 minute, use tongs to flip lamb chop over onto side 2, again rotating chop 45 degrees.

Close lid and cook for 1 minute, lid down.

Six minutes total cooking time over direct heat on the ignite setting, which should be the hottest setting on your grill, and times up!  You’re done! So are the lamb shoulder chops.

Remove lamb chops from grill onto a clean plate and turn off grill.

Now walk away from the lamb and finish getting everything together for plating. Let the lamb chops rest undisturbed for at least 5 to 10 minutes.

When ready to serve, cut lamb chops off the bone and thinly slice meat, across the grain. If you prefer, you can serve the chops whole. I find I have better portion control when I slice the meat and serve my 3-4oz cooked serving of lamb.

Nutritional Information

Nutritional Label for Marinade – Full Recipe (raw measure)Remember, about ½ of the marinade will be lost during the cooking process. So don’t count the full total when tracking nutrients.

Nutrition Label for Lamb Shoulder Chops – Full Recipe (raw weight, lamb only, domestic U .S.)

Nutrition Label for Lamb Shoulder Chops – Full Recipe (raw weight, lamb only, Australian/New Zealand)

SusieT’s Notes:Sure, the lamb chops taste the best and most closely match the recipe I describe, when using the precise combination of fresh herbs in the recipe. But, the recipe is flexible! Most of my recipes are flexible! If you don’t have fresh herbs and are using dried herbs, use ½ the quantity called for in the recipe. NBD – No Big Deal!

If you don’t have all the herbs or don’t like the taste of a certain herb, omit it and use what you have! It will still taste delicious! I frequently use fresh herbs because I have them and they’re free and give a great, fresh flavor to food, but dried works just fine, too. Also, the taste of a fresh herb isn’t as aggressive. So, many times you may think you hate a particular herb when it’s dried, but may actually love it in the fresh state!

You may also be concerned about the quantities of herbs and spices called for in the recipe. Again. Relax.

Quite a lot (maybe as much as ½ to ¾) of those herbs, salt and pepper, oil and Worcestershire will come off of the meat and remain on your grill while cooking! So the nutrition totals of the herb, oil and lemon marinade could be cut in ½ to ¾ for tracking purposes. (BTW, I used raw weights for the purpose of calculating recipe nutrition totals.) I think raw measures are more accurate that way.

I left the nutrition totals for the marinade in the Full Recipe format so you can do the necessary math per serving based on how much you want to subtract for cooking loss and into how many servings you make from the recipe.

I also left the lamb nutrition totals as a Full Recipe. How do I know how much you’re gonna eat?!

Grilled Mediterranean Lamb Shoulder Chops with Onion Pickles goes great served with fresh veggies such as a Asparagus in Ghee or Sauteed Swiss Chard with Garlic and Pine Nuts, or even simple steamed broccoli and a crisp salad.

Just promise me one thing? Make this recipe. Everyone will think you are a restaurant chef! It’s THAT good!Relax! I feel your stress from here. Yep it was a LOT of words and lines, honey! But you did swell!


  1. Sounds great -- but that's "tongs," not "tongues"!

    1. There, they're, their! You're so very correct! I will go try to find the place and spell it correctly! :D

  2. I just made this on the stove/in the oven with the parsley salad it was amazing!!!!

    1. I'm so happy you like it and that you posted here about it! It's one of my favorite spring dishes!!!

      Thanks for telling us your results!


Hey guys! Comments keep us going! Leave your thoughts, please? XOXO!