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Chef’s Corner: Lamb is worldwide favorite

By Staff | Dec 14, 2012

Moroccan spiced lamb chops with almond-mint pesto

Lamb is an ideal meat choice when culinary ennui sparks your creativity. It is cooked pretty much around the world from Europe to Asia, Africa, the Middle East and both Americas. I ended up choosing to create a Moroccan-inspired spice rub for the lamb chops.

Most Moroccan recipes call for a mix of spices, with emphasis more on big flavor than on heat. So, before the lamb chop even hit the grill the fragrant spice rub told me this might be more than just a regular lamb chop meal and the first bite confirmed it.

It was like romancing the spices.

Traditional Moroccan cooking is very much influenced by the region’s position in the middle of the ancient spice trade routes. Historically, Morocco was a stopping point on the spice trade route between Europe and the Far East. As a result, Moroccan cooks adopted many spices into their cuisine.

When buying lamb it should have a good deal of marbling and a nice shade of pink.

Recipe is courtesy of Chef Aziz of Traditions on the Beach, 3111 West Gulf Drive, in the historic Island Inn. For more information or to make a reservation call (239) 472-4559 or visit “http://www.TraditionsOnTheBeach.com”>www.TraditionsOnTheBeach.com.

Moroccan spiced lamb chops with almond-mint pesto

Recipe: Serves 4

Spice Rub:

1 tablespoon ground cumin

1 tablespoon paprika

1 teaspoon ground ginger

1 teaspoon ground coriander seeds

1 teaspoon turmeric

1 teaspoon cinnamon

Kosher salt, fresh ground black pepper and cayenne to taste

In a small bowl mix all the spices, season with salt and pepper and set aside.

Almond-Mint Pesto:

1/2 cup virgin olive oil

2 cups fresh mint leaves

1/4 cup toasted almonds

1 glove of garlic

Kosher salt and pepper to taste

Combine the mint, almond and garlic in a food processor and pulse until coarsely chopped. Add olive oil and process until fully incorporated and smooth. Season with salt and pepper and set aside.

For Lamb Chops:

2 rack of lamb

1 tablespoon of chopped garlic

2 tablespoon virgin olive oil

4 lemon wedges

2 springs of fresh cilantro

To prepare the lamb chops trim all fat from the lamb racks and cut each into four pieces.

A perfect lamb chop should be 1 to 1-1/2 inches thick. When grilling for approximately three to four minutes per side, it produces a wonderful medium-rare lamb chop that will practically melt in your mouth.

Preheat the grill on high to put a nice crust on the outside while retaining the juices inside. Brush lamb chops with olive oil and garlic then sprinkle them with spice mixture on both sides. Grill chops three to four minutes turning once for medium-rare, four to five minutes for medium to medium-well.

Arrange on serving platter, drizzle almond-mint pesto, decorate with lemon wedges, fresh cilantro sprig and enjoy.