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Lamb shoulder: Not just for braising! For this grilled lamb recipe, separating the shoulder into a few smaller-size pieces before marinating makes it less unwieldy on the grill and allows you to monitor the internal temperature more easily.
Lamb and Sauce
- 1 3–4-lb. boneless lamb shoulder
- Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper
- 2 red onions, coarsely chopped
- 1 bunch rosemary, leaves stripped from half of sprigs (about 1 cup)
- 1 bunch oregano, leaves stripped from sprigs (about 1 cup)
- ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 cup plain whole-milk Greek yogurt
- 1 garlic clove, finely grated
Tomatoes and Assembly
- 5 beefsteak or large heirloom tomatoes (about 4 lb.)
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 3 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice, divided
- 1 red onion, halved, thinly sliced
- Extra-virgin olive oil (for drizzling)
Lamb and Sauce
Lay lamb shoulder, cut side up, on a work surface. You will notice it’s made up of a few muscle groups, separated by thin strips of fat and gaps where the bones have been removed. Use a sharp knife to separate the shoulder into smaller pieces along these natural seams—you should end up with 5 or 6 pieces of various sizes. Transfer lamb to a glass baking dish and season generously on all sides with salt and pepper.
Pulse onions, rosemary leaves, and oregano leaves in a food processor until finely chopped; set remaining rosemary sprigs aside. Add vinegar and oil and pulse until a coarse purée forms. Season marinade with salt and pepper, then pour over lamb, turning to coat. Cover and let sit at room temperature 2–3 hours.
Mix yogurt, lemon juice, and garlic in a medium bowl. Season sauce with salt and pepper; cover and chill until ready to use.
Do Ahead: Lamb can be seasoned 1 day ahead; cover and chill. Sauce can be made 8 hours ahead; keep chilled.
Tomatoes and Assembly
About half an hour before you plan to start grilling, slice tomatoes into ½"-thick rounds and arrange on a large platter. Season with salt and pepper and drizzle with half of lemon juice. Top with onion, season with salt and pepper, and drizzle remaining lemon juice over. Arrange reserved rosemary sprigs on top; set aside.
Prepare a grill for medium heat. Without scraping off marinade, transfer larger pieces of lamb to grate and grill until underside is very well browned, about 5 minutes. Spoon some remaining marinade over lamb, turn, and continue to grill, turning every 5 minutes or any time you see a flare-up, until lamb is charred in spots and very well browned everywhere.
After large pieces have been cooking about 15 minutes, add smaller pieces to grill and follow same instructions; they take less time to cook, and by staggering the start times, all the lamb will come off the grill within a few minutes of each other. An instant-read thermometer inserted into the center of each piece should register 140° for medium, which is ideal. Start checking smaller pieces after 7–10 minutes. The largest piece will take closer to 30 minutes. As each piece finishes, transfer to reserved platter, setting on top of rosemary. Let rest 20–30 minutes.
Transfer lamb to a cutting board and tuck rosemary sprigs off to sides of platter. Tip platter so that accumulated tomato and lamb juices pool at one end and spoon over tomatoes. Using a long sharp knife, slice lamb into very thin pieces and arrange on top of onion and tomatoes. Season with salt and drizzle with oil.
Drizzle yogurt sauce with oil and serve alongside lamb.
Searching for something simple yet delicious for dinner? Lamb shoulder is a great cut of meat for the grill or stove top, and the chargrilled flavours will add another dimension to your meal.
- 1.25kg boneless lamb shoulder
- 12 anchovy ﬁllets, ﬁnely chopped
- 60ml (¼ cup) olive oil, plus extra for cooking
- Kosher salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1kg very ripe tomatoes, sliced 2cm thick
- 4 green garlic stalks (garlic shoots), thinly sliced, or 2 garlic cloves, ﬁnely grated
- 2 tbsp lemon juice, white wine vinegar or red wine vinegar
- Flaky sea salt
- Aioli, full-fat Greek-style yoghurt or labne, to serve (optional)
- Salsa verde, to serve (optional)
- Flatbreads, to serve (optional)
- Using a knife, separate the lamb shoulder where it naturally wants to separate, into three or four smaller pieces (almost like a few lamb steaks), to ensure even cooking on the grill.
- Mix the anchovies and olive oil. Season the lamb with salt and pepper and smear the anchovy mixture over. Leave for at least 30 minutes, uncovered and refrigerated.
- Heat a barbecue grill or chargrill pan to medium–high. (Alternatively, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large cast-iron skillet over medium–high heat.)
- Grill the meat on the hottest part of the grill until deeply and evenly charred, 5–8 minutes, depending on the thickness of each piece, flipping frequently to avoid burning. (Or sear in the skillet until golden brown on all sides, 3–5 minutes per side.) Transfer the lamb to a cutting board to rest for 10 minutes.
- Meanwhile, place the tomatoes on a large serving platter and season with salt and pepper. Scatter with the garlic, sprinkle with the lemon juice and set aside.
- Thinly slice the meat and place immediately atop the tomatoes, letting the juices mingle. Sprinkle with flaky salt.
- If desired, serve with aioli, salsa verde and/or flatbreads.
The aioli, salsa verde and flatbreads are all optional, but I highly recommend at least one or all three, throwing the bread on the grill to warm up and catch a little char as the meat rests, to drag through the tomato-y, garlicky lamby juices.
Images and text from Nothing Fancy by Alison Roman, photography by Michael Graydon and Nikole Herriott. Hardie Grant Books RRP $45.00.
The secrets of succulent grilled chops
1 of 5 ###Live Caption: Lamb chops and pork chops on the grill. Food styled by Amanda Gold. Photo by Craig Lee / The San Francisco Chronicle ###Caption History: Lamb chops and pork chops on the grill. Food styled by Amanda Gold. Photo by Craig Lee / The San Francisco Chronicle ###Notes: Craig Lee 415-218-8597 [email protected] ###Special Instructions: MANDATORY CREDIT FOR PHOTOG AND SF CHRONICLE/NO SALES-MAGS OUT Photo by Craig Lee Show More Show Less
2 of 5 ###Live Caption: Grilled lamb chops. Food styled by Amanda Gold. Photo by Craig Lee / The San Francisco Chronicle ###Caption History: Grilled lamb chops. Food styled by Amanda Gold. Photo by Craig Lee / The San Francisco Chronicle ###Notes: Craig Lee 415-218-8597 [email protected] ###Special Instructions: MANDATORY CREDIT FOR PHOTOG AND SF CHRONICLE/NO SALES-MAGS OUT Photo by Craig Lee Show More Show Less
4 of 5 ###Live Caption: Grilled pork chops. Food styled by Amanda Gold. Photo by Craig Lee / The San Francisco Chronicle ###Caption History: Grilled pork chops. Food styled by Amanda Gold. Photo by Craig Lee / The San Francisco Chronicle ###Notes: Craig Lee 415-218-8597 [email protected] ###Special Instructions: MANDATORY CREDIT FOR PHOTOG AND SF CHRONICLE/NO SALES-MAGS OUT Photo by Craig Lee Show More Show Less
Chops are the Cinderellas of the grill. OK, so the wicked stepmother thing is a bit of a stretch. But as the grilling season begins, cooks gravitate toward fancy filet mignon or glistening fish - or, more likely, ever-popular burgers, hot dogs and chicken breasts - while chops are cast aside as the neglected stepchild.
Memorial Day weekend is just days away, signaling the unofficial beginning of summer barbecuing. And though chops may be often overlooked, these manageable cuts of lamb and pork are actually the ideal party food, easy to prepare yet gourmet enough to impress discerning guests. Chops can be prepped and seasoned hours in advance, and after a quick turn over hot fire, become the perfect foil for seasonal garnishes.
What format the fire takes is always up for debate. Should the grill be gas or charcoal? While gas is infinitely easier, proponents of the coal argue that there's no better way to get that smoky, charred flavor. It's also hard to ignore the effects that charcoal grills have on the environment (see "Grilling Green," below). The good news is that marinated, spice-rubbed or brined chops pack so much flavor that they're delicious coming off either type of grill.
Lamb chops also have the advantage of being thin cuts of meat. Not only will they finish cooking in just 4 to 8 minutes, but the seasoning will permeate the meat much more readily than a thicker cut.
By nature, lamb chops favor Mediterranean or heavily spiced flavors, which make them a nice vehicle for marinades like harissa paste, a Moroccan blend of red chile peppers and cumin. Mixed with olive oil, a spoonful of garlic and the barest hint of cinnamon, the thin chops can marinate for as little as 30 minutes and need no additional garnish before serving.
Herbs like mint, rosemary or oregano also take well to lamb, as in a recipe adapted from Mario Batali's new grill book (for recipe, see sfgate.com/food for book review, see Cook's Books, F5). It features a pungent rub made from lemon zest and mint, and is served with a cumin-scented goat yogurt that would be delicious with any of the lamb chop recipes.
Fruits or vegetables work particularly well at this time of year with both lamb and pork. Unless you're using a fresh salsa, like the Cucumber-Mint Salsa accompanying Lemon-Oregano Lamb Chops (see recipe at right), it's possible to cook the garnish right on the grill.
In the recipe for Garlic & Rosemary Lamb Chops (see recipe, page F6), for example, grill-roasting the tomatoes imparts smoky nuances you won't get by roasting them in a regular oven. Because the tomatoes cook in a metal pan right over the fire, simply cover the grill, and let the heat do the work.
Cooking pork chops requires a bit more finesse and attention. They're thicker, leaner cuts of meat, which means they have a tendency to dry out or overcook.
There are a few ways to combat this problem, starting with the grilling method.
Chops from the rib or loin benefit from a more indirect cooking technique. Heating one side of the grill at a high temperature and the other at medium allows the chops to sear and caramelize over high heat. Moving the chops to medium and shutting the lid will then circulate the heat and cook the chops through without burning the exterior.
It's critical to take pork chops off the grill when they hit 145 to 150 degrees to avoid overcooking. The internal temperature of the chops will continue to climb for a few minutes once removed, and the barest hint of pink inside is perfectly fine - even preferable, for a juicier chop.
Many cooks these days don't think twice about brining a large turkey at Thanksgiving, but it can feel like extra effort for a few small pieces of pork. Still, it's worth the time and planning - the recipe for Maple-Brined Pork Chops with Herbed Cherry Compote (see recipe, page F3) results in a moist, juicy texture that even a few extra minutes on the grill won't destroy.
If you don't have the 8 to 12 hours for brining, a few hours in a strong marinade will help flavor the chops. Try an Asian blend like hoisin and soy sauces with ginger (see recipe, above) to lend a salty kick. Basting the chops on the grill will help them form an attractive golden glaze.
Rosemary Salt Roast Chicken
Rosemary salt is used to bring out the flavours of a succulent roast chicken in this simple recipe, courtesy of Olive magazine. Rosemary salt is rubbed into the chicken and left overnight to draw out the moisture, making an irresistible golden, crispy skin that’s just bursting with flavour.
Grilled Leg of Lamb with Rosemary Salt
This tasty supper recipe from Epicurious celebrates the classic flavour combination of lamb and rosemary. Tender cuts of lamb are marinated overnight in a mixture of yoghurt, garlic and rosemary, then grilled or barbecued and finished with a dusting of delicious rosemary salt.
Crispy Potatoes with Rosemary Salt
For a tasty side dish to impress at dinner parties, try this irresistible crispy potato recipe from Better Homes & Gardens. Finely cut russet potatoes, cooked in rosemary salt and butter until crisp and golden. Simply delicious!
If you can’t get enough of the aromatic herbal flavour of rosemary, you might like to try one of these 5 recipes to increase your rosemary repertoire.
If there’s anything that can beat the smell of freshly baked bread, it’s the smell of freshly baked bread with rosemary. This classic Italian focaccia is finished with a liberal dusting of rosemary and salt, and tastes great served warm with oil and vinegar.
Another delicious roast chicken and rosemary dish, this time with a savoury and aromatic stuffing made from rosemary, parsley and leeks.
A refined dish for a special occasion, this ratatouille tartlet with lamb and rosemary sabayon takes the classic combination of rosemary and lamb to the next level.
Juicy and full of flavour, these hearty Italian meatballs taste great with a simple salad of ricotta and wild herbs.
For something a little different, try some fig, balsamic and rosemary pies. These complex sweet and herbal pastries taste great served with ice cream or creamy goat’s cheese.
Grilled Rack of Lamb
My dad is the lamb lover in my family. In fact, the first time I ever cooked lamb was for my dad on Easter. My daughter also loves every time I make lamb, and I don’t blame her! This grilled rack of lamb is wonderfully tender and oh-so delicious.
Not only is this rack of lamb incredibly tender, it’s also just the right amount of gamey. If you’re looking to branch out from beef, chicken, and pork, lamb is an ideal next step. Consider it the perfect in-between to introduce you to more exotic flavors without going too crazy.
Grilled Vegetables with Sauvignon Blanc
The bounty of summertime brings amazing produce, which makes it an ideal occasion to fire up the grill! Hit your local farmers&apos market and pick up bell peppers, zucchini, eggplant, tomatoes, and corn—they will all be elevated with the caramelization and char that grilling provides.
Vegetables pair nicely with sauvignon blanc, which is a crisp and light white wine with fresh, bright acidity and herbal character that&aposs often balanced with notes of grapefruit and melon. It&aposs delicate enough to pair with vegetable, and it won&apost overpower food. A juicy New Zealand bottle like Spy Valley Sauvignon Blanc 2020 ($18.99, wine.com) tastes delicious with Grilled Vegetables with Herb Vinaigrette. Duckhorn Sauvignon Blanc 2019 ($29.99, wine.com) is a refreshing choice with Grilled Vegetable Pizzas. And try Veramonte Sauvignon Blanc 2019 ($13.99, wine.com) with Grilled-Vegetable Tostadas and Grilled Corn with Chile-Lime Salt.
- Combine all ingredients in a non-reactive bowl. Marinate for at least one hour up to overnight.
- Preheat a grill to high heat
- Grill lamb chops, flipping once – about 3 minutes a side for medium rare
- Let rest for 5-7 minutes, then serve
- Add potatoes to a pot of salted water, and bring to a boil
- When potatoes are just done, drain.
- Spread potatoes on a cutting board and brush them with olive oil, then sprinkle with salt and pepper
- Grill the potatoes over high heat for just long enough to get grill marks – about 2 minutes a side.
- Place asparagus in a plastic freezer bag or a large dish
- Pour in olive oil, vinegar, and add salt and pepper, marinate for at least 30 minutes
- Grill the asparagus over high heat for about 3-4 minutes, tossing once or twice until lightly charred
I usually grill the meat first, and while it’s resting, I throw on the potatoes and asparagus. By the time they are cooked, the meat has rested properly and everything can be served at the same time.
You can use a grill pan for the asparagus, but I just toss it on the grill perpendicular to the grates. I always lose a couple, but it makes the process easier and there’s less to clean up.
- aluminum foil
- 6 (8 ounce) lamb shoulder chops
- 3 tablespoons minced garlic
- salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
- 2 sprigs chopped fresh rosemary
- 3 small zucchini, halved
- 6 small carrots, halved
- 8 ounces mushrooms, halved
- 3 onions, sliced
- 6 tablespoons butter
- 6 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1 (8 ounce) package feta cheese, cut into 6 squares
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C).
Place 1 piece of heavy duty aluminum foil vertically on a work surface and 1 large piece aluminum foil horizontally on top, large enough to cover 1 lamb chop and vegetables..
Place 1 lamb chop in the middle of the aluminum foil and rub with 1/2 tablespoon garlic, salt, pepper, and rosemary. Repeat with remaining chops.
Stack zucchini, carrots, mushrooms, and onion on top of each lamb chop. Place 1 tablespoon of butter on top and drizzle with 1 teaspoon of lemon juice. Top each with 1 square of feta cheese. Tightly seal each package by wrapping the first piece of foil around the meat and vegetables, followed by the second.
Bake in the preheated oven until lamb is cooked but still pink in the center. An instant-read thermometer inserted into the center of a chop should read at least 140 degrees F (60 degrees C). Serve each person their own individual parcel.
19 Tasty Lamb Recipes
Lamb in any form, whether a roasted leg, grilled chops, or a whole rack, make us think of the holidays or special occasions. Something about a beautifully cooked, fragrant dish of lamb with all the accoutrements around it gets a big crowd to stop talking about anything else but the gorgeous presentation before them, and for good reason. When cooked properly, lamb can be a juicy, tender, and memorable experience, and thanks to the natural flavor that comes from the fat in several cuts of lamb, there’s not much work to be done to deliver a perfectly delectable final product. Luckily, while lamb may seem like it’s strictly reserved for special occasions, it doesn’t have to be. A weeknight lamb dinner can come together with some time and a few simple ingredients for an impressive dish without all the pomp.
When preparing lamb, the most important thing to keep in mind is the cut of meat that you’re buying, which will determine whether you take it to the oven, grill, or skillet. For example, a cut such as a rump, leg, or shank are more fibrous, so a low and slow braise or roast in the oven or slow cooker will result in a tender piece of lamb. Lamb loin or ribs are more tender, so a quick cook on the grill or a hot cast-iron skillet works well, especially when spiced with a good marinade. Once you’ve picked out your cut of meat and determined how you’re going to cook it, it’s time to work on your flavors. Garlic, rosemary, and thyme are the trifecta when it comes to preparing a simple marinade that’s full of herbaceous flavors, but don’t feel like you have to stop there. Working with paprika and cumin for a more Middle Eastern flavor profile results in a more earthy profile, pairing perfectly with a lemony couscous and a creamy yogurt sauce. No matter how you decide to cook your lamb, with the right technique and care, you’re guaranteed to come out with a final product that seems way too good to eat for a casual weeknight dinner. Find your inspiration with our list of 19 tasty lamb recipes, and get cooking!
Lamb Chops with Garlic and Herbs
A classic herb and garlic marinade gives lamb chops a delightful flavor, and a pan-sear on the stovetop provides an unforgettable crust.
1h 00m 465 calories Easy
Roasted Leg of Lamb
A slow roast in the oven delivers a tender, juicy leg of lamb full of herbaceous flavor.
2h 05m 350 calories Easy
Visit the page to learn more: Roasted Leg of Lamb.
Uncomplicated and hearty, this one-pot wonder is best enjoyed with a side of crusty bread for sopping up the flavorful broth.
2h 40m 480 calories Easy
Visit the page to learn more: Lamb Stew.
Have a heaping helping of this old-school casserole then wrap up the rest — this casserole tastes even better the next day.
2h 00m 400 calories Easy
Visit the page to learn more: Lamb Casserole.
Classic Rack of Lamb
Seasoned with rosemary, thyme, and garlic, this elegant rack of lamb is perfect for entertaining.
1h 50m 300 calories Easy
Visit the page to learn more: Classic Rack of Lamb.
Pear and Pomegranate Lamb Tagine
Serve this Middle Eastern-inspired lamb dish with couscous, polenta, or rice pilaf.
6h 00m 440 calories Easy
Shredded Lamb Sliders
Serve these lamb sliders at your next outdoor picnic or family get together to really impress the crowd.
6h 00m 340 calories Easy
Visit the page to learn more: Shredded Lamb Sliders.
Garlic and Rosemary Grilled Lamb Chops
Garlic and rosemary are the classic flavoring agents for lamb chops, lending to a delightfully flavored marinade you’ll want to use over and over.
25 minutes 330 calories Easy
Greek Lamb Chops
The traditional flavors of Greece appear in these delicious lamb chops by way of a marinade with olive oil, lemon, oregano, and garlic.
50 minutes 300 calories Easy
Visit the page to learn more: Greek Lamb Chops.
Garlic-Herb and Paprika Roast Leg of Lamb
One hour in the oven delivers a tender, juicy roast leg of lamb that’s perfect for your next special occasion.
1h 25m 320 calories Easy
Slow Roasted Lamb
Lamb shoulder cooks low and slow to intensify the flavor and turn the shoulder into a fall-apart tender final product.
11h 00m 570 calories Easy
Visit the page to learn more: Slow Roasted Lamb.
Tomatoes, bell peppers, and garlic make for a bright, flavorful marinade you’ll want to use all the time.
1h 45m 860 calories Easy
Visit the page to learn more: Sicilian Lamb.
Greek-Style Butterflied Leg of Lamb with Feta Sauce
Butterflying the leg of lamb results in a faster roast and a more even cook throughout.
1h 30m 310 calories Easy
Slow Cooked Lamb Shawarma
Wrap this juicy, fall-apart lamb shawarma in a warm pita or serve with a lemon herb couscous.
3h 40m 780 calories Easy
Visit the page to learn more: Slow Cooked Lamb Shawarma.
Lamb Chops with Rosemary Gravy
Use the drippings from the garlic rosemary marinade to make a deeply flavorful gravy to serve over top.
1h 25m 300 calories Easy
Tandoori Lamb with Hell’s Fury Hot Sauce and Raita
The tandoori marinade is spicy, but removing the seeds from the jalapeno peppers can make for a more mild sauce that doesn’t skimp on flavor.
1h 40m 350 calories Easy
Lamb Chop Dinner for Two
This lamb chop dinner comes together easily with a homemade pan sauce for a hearty and delicious meal for two.
1h 15m 400 calories Easy
Visit the page to learn more: Lamb Chop Dinner for Two.
Slow Cooker Lamb Tagine
When choosing which cut of meat to use for this tagine, go for the lamb neck, which contains enough fat to keep the meat moist while also delivering plenty of flavor.
6h 00m 480 calories Easy
Visit the page to learn more: Slow Cooker Lamb Tagine.
Classic Shepherd’s Pie
Swapping out ground beef for ground lamb makes for an even more savory, hearty shepherd’s pie that’s full of comforting flavor.
1h 10m 400 calories Easy
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Grilled Lamb Chops with Rosemary-Arugula Pesto
Lamb chops are a tender, flavorful cut of meat that cook up quickly on the stove or the grill, making them perfect weeknight fare. In this recipe, we serve grilled lamb chops with a fresh, herbaceous herb pesto that comes together in just minutes in the food processor.