So here's a great recipe to kick off spring grilling in a fancy way. You can make the tapenade in advance. You can also set the chops to marinating early in the day, well before grilling. And honestly, even though at least a couple hours in the marinade is nice- it's not going to ruin the dish if you're only putting the chops in the marinade while your charcoal gets going and you're chopping olives. This is a pretty forgiving dish, except for the actual grilling, when you need to pay attention and be swift.
For the tapenade, be sure to choose a sturdy, but not too woody green olive. I used castelvetranos, but picholines or manzanillas would also be great choices. It's called a "broken" olive tapenade, because the olives are chopped, but not pulverized into a paste like more common tapenades. You may think jarred olives aren't as flavorful as the ones you can get at your local store's olive bar. I buy olives in plastic tubs from the refrigerator section, from olive bars and in jars. Depending on the brand and store you're at, it can be a toss up as to what's best. I keep jarred Pastene brand olives in my pantry and fridge, because it's nice to have them around for quick dinners or emergency snacks for unexpected guests. If you have some leftover tapenade- it's great in a grilled cheese!
For the lamb and marinade
- 8-12 loin chops total (about 3 pounds)
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- few sprigs of fresh thyme
- 1/4 cup lemon juice
- 5 garlic cloves, chopped
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- lots of freshly ground black pepper
For the Broken Olive Tapenade
- 1/2 cup chopped green olives
- 2 tsp lemon juice
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- pinch red pepper flake
- 2-3 TBS parsley, minced
- 1 TBS extra virgin olive oil
- 1/4 tsp fresh thyme, finely minced
- Combine lamb chops and marinade ingredients in a baking dish. Let sit at room temperature for up to an hour before grilling, or refrigerate overnight, taking out of the fridge an hour before grilling.
- Combine all tapenade ingredients. Set aside.
- Prepare your grill for direct cooking, building a medium hot fire, or setting your gas grill to medium-high.
- Oil grill gates, then grill chops for 3-5 minutes a side, until reaching an internal temperature of about 120 degrees. This will give you medium-rare chops, which is the ideal temperature for lamb loin chops. You can cook them longer if you prefer, but they will be a little tough.
- Serve chops with tapenade and enjoy!