Thursday, April 23, 2015

Grilled Lamb Chops with Broken Olive Tapenade

Every year my mother and I split a whole lamb from Brookfield Farm in Walpole, NH. We divvy up the various packages of chops and ground lamb. She keep both legs for Easter, and I get both racks, because one rack is perfect dinner for two. Honestly, I really do get the better end of this bargain, because I am of course at Easter enjoying the roast legs! Although since I do my own frenching of the racks, there is just a little bit of extra labor in involved there. But the chops may be the best part. I enjoy the simplicity of cooking some up for simple, but crazy tasty dinners. For blade or shoulder and round bone chops- I usually braise those. But loin chops were made for fast grilling, and the wonderful flavor of lamb turns a quick grilling night into a special meal quite quickly.

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!

Serves 4 


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!

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