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Photo by: Joseph DeLeo
If you’re not a lamb eater, this is a good recipe to start with. Nothing could be more straightforward, more elegant, and more delightful to the tongue than these lamb chops.
1. To make the chutney, stir together the rhubarb, onion, honey, vinegar, raisins, jalapeño, garlic, and the cardamom bag in a medium saucepan. Add the water, place over medium-high heat, and bring to a boil. Lower the heat to a simmer. Cover and cook for about 15 minutes, or until the rhubarb is extremely tender. Taste it to see whether you want it sweeter or hotter. If the rhubarb is especially tart, add more honey. Stir in a teaspoon and then taste. If the chutney seems mild, add 1 or 2 more chopped jalapeños. If you add either, continue cooking for another 5 minutes to blend the flavors. Remove from the heat, fish out the cheesecloth bag, and stir in the cilantro. Serve this chutney warm, at room temperature, or cold.
2. Pat the lamb chops dry. Insert slivers of garlic into each one by making small cuts with a paring knife and poking in the garlic. Brush the tops lightly with half the olive oil, and pat on half the cracked peppercorns. Turn the chops over, brush with the remaining oil, and press in the remaining pepper. Let sit at room temperature for about 30 minutes or up to 1 hour.
3. Oil the grill racks. Preheat your grill using all burners set on high and with the lid closed for 10 to 12 minutes.
4. Place the lamb chops on the grill and cook for 3 to 4 minutes per side. The lamb should give slightly when touched with your finger, indicating medium-rare to medium, or the internal temperature should register 135°F to 140°F. You don’t want to overcook. Remove to a platter and pass the rhubarb chutney.
The flavor and texture of freshly cracked peppercorns—or any whole spice—can add volumes of taste and texture to any dish, and you won’t get the same result by just using your coarse setting on your pepper mill or by purchasing cracked peppercorns. Pour out the whole peppercorns onto a cutting board or flat surface. Grab a heavy skillet or saucepan and place it directly over the peppercorns. Using your weight, lean hands first into the skillet or pan until you hear a little cracking. This is only the first step. We flatten the peppercorns out enough so that they won’t go rolling all over the kitchen counter.
Using the edge of the skillet or pan and leaning your weight into it, continue cracking the peppercorns several at a time until you’ve gone through all of them. It’s a simple process, and after you’ve done it a few times you probably won’t have to sweep the kitchen floor afterward.
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