Recipe: Lamb Chops from STREATís Head Chef

21 November 2018 Dianne Kerry

Recipe: Lamb Chops from STREATís Head Chef

Dianne Kerry's lamb loin chops

Social enterprise STREAT’s head chef Dianne Kerry gives a makeover to the meat and three veg of her 80s childhood.

We were raised in leafy Mooroolbark, in outer suburban Melbourne. Your typical family – parents with three kids, eating meat with three veg. Growing up we ate lamb chops all the time, and practically every night in winter. It was served with the obligatory three veg: mashed potato, frozen peas and frozen beans. On a good night we’d get corn instead of beans, on a bad one it was mashed pumpkin – I still can’t stand pumpkin! The spirit of adventure was lacking in our house in the 80s.

Dad was the creative one in the kitchen.

Though never home in time to make dinner during the week, he’d cook up a storm on weekends. His apple pies and eclairs were mouth-watering. For birthdays, he’d bake us a special cake from the ubiquitous Women’s Weekly cookbook. I think this is what spurred me on to become a chef, realising that food could be interesting and taste good all the time.

I still like lamb chops (it took a while), and might have them once a month. I don’t cook them the way I remember from my childhood, however, which was: put lamb chops under griller, turn griller on, turn lamb chops over after 20 minutes and cook for another 10. It certainly didn’t do much for the chop! Now I pan fry them to medium in 8 minutes.

The three veg are also banished now in favour of a more exciting accompaniment. I feel Middle Eastern flavours really complement the lamb – there is some mint in this salad and pomegranate molasses cuts the richness of the meat, plus a dollop of good yoghurt rounds it out nicely. This dish is quick to prepare and can be varied to whatever veg you have at home. In summer I serve it as a salad, in winter a comforting warm stew by cooking all the veg and chickpeas together, and adding the lentils once they are cooked.

Recipe: Lamb Loin Chops with Middle Eastern Grain Salad

Ingredients:
lamb loin chops, 2-3 per person
salt, to taste
olive oil
100g Persian red lentils
¼ cauliflower, chopped
3 cloves garlic, sliced
1 red onion, sliced
½ lemon, juice only
2 small zucchini
3 sprigs each of mint and dill
1 teaspoon Baharat (it’s like a Turkish garam masala). Substitute: ½ teaspoon cumin, ¼ teaspoon allspice and ¼ teaspoon ground coriander
3-4 tomatoes, diced (or use ½ punnet cherry tomatoes)
1 can chickpeas, rinsed
¼ teaspoon Aleppo pepper or other dried chili
100g rocket or watercress
Greek yoghurt to dollop on the side
Pomegranate to drizzle

Method

Take the chops out of the fridge and bring to room temperature before cooking. Season with salt.

Preheat a pan (I use cast iron), rub a tiny bit of oil on one side of the chops (they will drop fat as they cook so there will be fat in the pan when you turn them), cook for about 5 minutes on a medium-high heat, then turn over and cook for 3-5 minutes. Take out of pan, and rest for a few minutes before serving.

To make the salad, put the lentils in a small pot and cover with 1½ cups of cold water. Bring to boil, then turn down to a simmer. They take about 15 minutes. Add salt after they are cooked and rinsed briefly under cold water.

Preheat oven to 200°C. Season cauliflower with salt, Baharat and a small amount of oil. Roast for 12 minutes or until browned on the outside and just tender in the stem.

Sauté garlic in 3 tablespoons of olive oil, starting in a cold small pan, until it starts to turn golden. Add in onion and a little salt. Turn down heat until the onion wilts and softens. Add lemon juice – this is now your salad dressing. Put into a large bowl, add other ingredients as they are ready: finely sliced zucchini into ribbons or spirals; chopped mint, dill and tomatoes; chickpeas; cooked lentils and cauliflower. Add chili to taste. Give salad a mix, and add watercress or rocket just as you are ready to serve.

You can plate communally or individually – salad to one side, a dollop of yoghurt next to it and lamb chops drizzled with the pomegranate molasses.

Dianne Kerry is Executive Chef at STREAT, a social enterprise that works with youth homelessness and disadvantage.

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