Grilled Lamb Chops
Growing up, we enjoyed the same meal every Easter. Staples like bone-in ham with horseradish sauce, iceberg salad with hot bacon dressing, pickled red beet eggs, baked butter beans, and homemade bread. My mouth is watering as I type. It was predictable. It was fabulous. And I wouldn’t change a thing.
Making traditional recipes on holidays leads to warm memories that last a lifetime. Occasionally, Mom would swap in corn fritters, or peas simmered in hot milk and butter. Or maybe her mac-n-cheese baked with stewed tomatoes. But the base of the meal was always ham. It was a given, as certain as her fancy rose-patterned plates and glasses making their semi-annual appearance.
Don’t get me wrong. I love a hot ham meal. I mix it up with our own favorite go-withs like pineapple bread pudding, baked corn, and blue cheese deviled eggs. But the gist is the same, and Moms everywhere are the inspiration.
For Easter, however, I sometimes like to break the ham mold. Memorable departures include the year I did a leg of lamb stuffed with spinach. The first, and only, time I made a crown pork roast. The tenderloins I grilled in the rain. And the wonderful Cuban pork roast that cooked for hours on the rotisserie. For that last one, I had to swat at our guests hovering around the cutting board picking at the deliciously charred edges.
This month I offer you another favorite for Easter: Grilled Lamb Chops with Lemon and Oregano. They’re crazy easy. Taste amazing. And make an impressive platter.
Let’s get started, shall we?
Whisk the following in a large, lidded food container:
⅓ cup extra virgin olive oil
½ tbsp. lemon zest
juice from 2 lemons
½ cup fresh oregano, chopped
6 garlic cloves, chopped
¼ cup Worcestershire sauce
¼ cup apple cider vinegar
2 tbsp. brown sugar
1 ½ tsp. onion powder
½ tbsp. kosher salt
fresh ground pepper to taste
Add 3 pounds lamb loin chops, cut 1-inch thick (the ones that look like little T-bone steaks)
Cover and chill to marinate at least 6 hours, or up to 24. Shake and turn the container every so often. Then bring it back to room temperature the last hour.
Preheat your grill to medium-high. Drain the chops and toss the marinade.
Grill to your liking, flipping once. Medium rare will be 135° on a meat thermometer; medium will be 150°. This takes about 3 to 5 minutes per side.
Rest the chops on a platter tented with foil for 10 minutes. Garnish with any extra oregano and serve.
Fresh oregano is key. Look for it in the produce section. For that matter, fresh lemon juice is important too. So don't reach for anything with a safety seal.
• I once read that US lamb has a less gamey, less pronounced flavor. I don't know how true that is but supporting local is always preferred when you can.
• Pick side dishes that finish themselves while you grill. Drinking a glass of wine while you savor the smokey aroma is a lot more enjoyable than last-minute fussing over go-withs. I make an au gratin potato that comes out of the oven to rest as I'm heading to the patio.
• I like to pull these off the grill starting around 140°, and no more than 145°. If the chops are too rare, I find they can be chewy, especially near the bone. Too well done is never good but can be solved by pouring more wine.
• Avoid marinating longer than 24 hours. The acidic ingredients will start to "cook" the meat, giving the edges a mushy texture. Not to worry if you miscalculate; nothing's ruined. Just don't tell folks it's my recipe. ▼
Ed and his husband Jerry split their time between homes near Harrisburg Pennsylvania and Bethany Beach. Ed builds websites to pay the bills but loves to cook, garden, hike, and dote on their dog Atticus.