Lamb and mint are a classic pairing. We wanted to showcase this wonderful combination in a more provocative way, so we adapted some favorite recipes to punch up the spiciness. The fennel used in the marinade adds brightness, and the coffee used in both the marinade and sauce adds a burst of unexpected richness to the flavor profile of this dish. As with all of our coffee recipes, we recommend using the highest-quality beans you can find, grinding them just before use (you can use the same type of beans for both the grounds and liquid espresso).
8 double-thick lamb chops
For the coffee marinade:2 teaspoons garlic, finely chopped
1 tablespoon dark roast coffee, finely ground
¼ cup olive oil
½ cup Pinot Noir
½ teaspoon whole mixed peppercorns
½ teaspoon fennel seeds
½ teaspoon cumin seeds
½ teaspoon mustard seeds
½ teaspoon coriander seed
2 teaspoons fresh thyme, chopped
½ teaspoon coarse kosher salt
For the sauce:
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup chanterelle mushrooms (or best variety available), sliced
1 large shallot, minced
1 ½ cups Pinot Noir
2 tablespoons fresh mint leaves, chopped
2 cups chicken stock (use lamb stock if available)
¼ cup freshly brewed espresso
½ teaspoon honey
1 tablespoon cornstarch mixed with 1 tablespoon cold water
1 ½ tablespoons butter, at room temperature
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Prepare the marinade:
Grind the dried spices for the marinade in a spice grinder, allowing the spices to settle before removing the lid. Mix with the rest of the marinade ingredients in a non-reactive bowl.
Place lamb in large non-reactive dish and cover with marinade, rubbing spices and liquids into the meat. Cover and refrigerate for approximately 3 to 4 hours. Bring to room temperature before cooking.
For the sauce:
Sauté the mushrooms and shallots in butter and olive oil over medium-high heat until shallots are translucent and mushrooms have given off their liquid. Add the red wine and bring to a boil; boil for 2 minutes. Stir in mint, chicken stock, espresso, and honey and reduce the sauce by half. Stir in cornstarch mixture bit by bit to thicken sauce to desired consistency. Remove from heat and add butter. Adjust seasoning to taste. Keep the sauce warm until service.
Grill the lamb:
Remove lamb and wipe off most of the marinade. Cook lamb on a hot grill until medium rare, or until 125°F. 8 minutes per side should be sufficient. Remove from grill and tent with foil, allowing meat to rest for 5-10 minutes before service.
Place 2 lamb chops per serving on the presentation plate, with bones crossing. Spoon warm sauce over chops. Garnish with a sprig of mint.
[Chef’s Note: This dish would go well with a side of flavored mashed potatoes and steamed baby vegetables. Mound the potatoes in the center of the plate with the lamb leaning againt them and spoon sauce over the chops. Place vegetables opposite lamb and garnish the plate with a sprig of mint.]
Recipe by Mark Tafoya
Photo by Kelly Cline