Spice Rub-Grilled Lamb Chops with Grilled Fennel

Recipe by Mike Vrobel from DadCooksDinner

Lamb loin chops (aka Lamb T-Bones) are a slightly more economical cut than rack of lamb. Loin chops don’t give you the wonderful “lamb popsicles” that you get from a rack of lamb. But you will get more lamb for your dollar, and lamb loin is every bit as tender and flavorful as rack of lamb.

Ingredients:

8 lamb loin chops
2 tsp kosher salt (about 1/2 tsp per two chops)

Spice rub
1 tbsp whole coriander seed
1 tbsp lemon zest (the zest of 1/2 a lemon)
1 tbsp fennel fronds, minced
2 tsp minced fresh rosemary
2 tsp whole peppercorns

Fennel
2 bulbs fennel
2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp fresh ground pepper
olive oil
Juice of 1 lemon (use the lemon from the zest above)

Directions:

1. Dry brine the chops: 2 hours before cooking, trim any excess fat from the lamb, then sprinkle evenly with the salt. Grind all the spice rub ingredients until they are coarsely ground. Sprinkle the rub over the lamb chops, and press it into the chops to help it stick. Let the lamb rest at room temperature until it is time to cook.
*You can season the chops up to 24 hours ahead of time. If you do, refrigerate them, then remove from the refrigerator two hours before cooking. The two hours at room temperature gives them enough time to take the chill off before grilling.
**You can season as little as one hour before cooking and still get the dry brine effect from the early salting. If you can’t season one hour before cooking, do it just before putting the chops on the grill.

2. Prepare the fennel: Trim the fronds from the fennel, then trim the root end down to the base of the bulb. Stand the bulb on the trimmed root end, and cut into 1/2 inch thick slices. Sprinkle evenly with the salt and pepper, then cover with a thin coat of olive oil.

3. Prepare the grill: Prepare your grill for cooking in two zones, one on medium-high heat and the other on medium heat. For my gas grill, I preheat with all the burners on high for 15 minutes. Then I clean the grill grate with my grill brush, and oil the grates with a paper towel dipped in vegetable oil. Finally, I turn half the burners down to medium-high, and the other half to medium.

4. Grill it!: Put the lamb chops on the medium-high part of the grill, and the fennel on the medium part of the grill. Cook for 6 minutes; if you want to get fancy, rotate them 90 degrees after 3 minutes to give crosshatched grill marks. Flip the chops and fennel, and cook for another 4-6 minutes, until well browned on the second side. The chops are done when their internal temperature is 120*F in their thickest part. (That’s for medium-rare. Cook to 115*F for rare, 130*F for medium). The fennel is done when it is tender and well browned. Remove from the grill, toss the fennel with the lemon juice, then let the lamb rest for 10 minutes before serving.

Notes:
*Lamb chops are small – I serve 2 per person, or 3-4 per person for big eaters.
*Grinding the rub: Don’t have a mortar and pestle, or a coffee grinder dedicated to being a spice grinder? Improvise a mortar and pestle using a coffee cup and a spice jar.

What do you think? Questions? Other ideas? Leave them in the comments section below.

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