Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Local Lamb Chops with Balsamic Blueberry Sauce and Artisan Grits....

Yesterday at the store I found myself gazing delightfully at an array of fresh local lamb cuts from East Fork Farm. There were the well known loin chops, as well as blade chops and foreshank. I asked the man behind the meat counter to tell me a little about the blade chops and shank. When he replied "I don't really like to cook" I gave him a stiff nod and noted, "I guess cooking isn't everyone's cup of tea", though these words of condolence were hard for me to say. Maybe he should transfer to the canned goods isle?
Anyway, I purchased the chops and a forshank and came home to consult my "meat cut chart". Even though this chart compares cuts of pork, I figured it would give me a better understanding of what part of the lamb my purchase came from.
Blade chops are cut from the shoulder end of the loin. They boast lots of flavor but tend to carry a bit more fat than chops cut from the tenderloin. The foreshank is taken from the top portion of the lamb's front leg usually including a bit of the shoulder and is sold bone in. Both cuts were modestly priced, I believe due in part to the fact that these are a more exercised part of the animal, making them a bit tougher. Such cuts are usually good candidates for braising (breifly searing all sides before slow cooking in flavorful juices), or in the chops case, searing to medium-rare.
Okay, so here we go.

Lamb Blade Chops:
*2 blade chops
*salt and pepper
*butter or olive oil for searing

In a large heavy skillet, heat butter over medium heat. Rinse and thoroughly dry chops. Salt and pepper both sides of chops. Sear until desired doneness, about 5 minutes per side. Trim away some fat and allow to rest before serving.

Balsamic Blueberry Sauce:
*1 1/2 cups frozen blueberries
*1/4 cup good balsamic vinegar
*1/4 cup water
*1 tsp brown sugar or molasses

Add all ingredients to a small saucepan. Simmer over medium low heat stirring occasionally until reduced to a spoonable sauce. Spoon over lamb chops and garnish with some fresh fennel.

Artisan Grits with Shallots:

*1 cup stone ground grits (I got these from Wayne at Farmer's Market)
*4 cups water
*splash of cream...optional
*2 Tbsp butter
*2 large shallots, sliced thin
*2 cloves garlic, minced
*Fresh ground pepper and sea salt

In a medium saucepan, saute shallots in butter for about 5 minutes. Add garlic. Saute until golden. Remove from pan with a slotted spoon. Add water and bring to a boil. Whisk in grits and cream. Reduce heat to low and add shallots, garlic, salt and pepper. Cook covered until grits are done, about 30-40 minutes. Adjust seasonings. Allow to rest a few minutes before spooning onto a plate. Arrange a lamb chop over top, with blueberry sauce. Serve with greens.
And of course toast your local food producers before digging in!

A perfect meal for Valentine's!

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