Harissa-marinated Lamb Loin Chops & Grilled Peach Salad
Everyone loves a lamb chop, with a tender eye in the centre of that bone, it’s basically as tender as a piece of fillet. These thick-cut lamb loin chops are rubbed in a homemade harissa, which is smoky, sweet and spicy in all the right places. Paired with a refreshing and summery grilled peach salad, this dish is the ideal thing to serve on a balmy evening. You and your paramour can make cooking this a team effort. One of you can work on the harissa, while the other can prepare the salad ingredients. You’ll want to get the lamb chops marinating before you start anything else so they can soak up as much flavour as possible. Alternatively, make the marinade the day before and pop the chops in it six hours before you wish to cook them. These can be cooked on a stove or on the braai.
Preparation time: 45 minutes plus 1 hour standing time for the harissa and 1-3 hours for marinating the chops and 1-hour standing time for the onions
Cooking time: 40 minutes
2-3 red peppers
1 tsp (5 ml) cumin seeds
1 tsp (5 ml) coriander seeds
1 tsp (5 ml) caraway seeds
3 cloves garlic, peeled
2-3 red jalapeño or serrano chillies, stemmed, chopped with seeds (remove the seeds for a milder flavour)
½ -1 C (125 ml – 250 ml) extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra
sea salt, or to taste
4 thick cut lamb loin chops (Note: Ask your butcher to cut the loin chops to about 4–4.5 cm thick.)
¼ C (60 ml) red wine vinegar
½ Tbsp (7.5 ml) sugar
1 tsp (5 ml) sea salt
½ C (125 ml)
¼ red onion, finely sliced
½ C (125 ml) tightly packed mint leaves, washed and dried
½ Tbsp (7.5 ml) finely chopped shallots
½ tsp (2.5 ml) red wine vinegar
¼ – ⅓ C (60- 80 ml) fruity olive oil
½ small clove garlic, minced
salt and black pepper to taste
1 large peach
1 tsp (5 ml) brown sugar
150 g asparagus, woody ends trimmed
½ avocado, sliced or cubed
150 g baby leaves (lettuce, rocket, spinach etc)
30 g toasted pine nuts
micro herbs for garnish
Preheat the oven to 220 ºC.
Rub the red peppers with a little oil and place on a roasting tray covered with foil. Roast until evenly charred and blistered – about 20 to 30 minutes. Remove from the oven, place in a glass bowl and cover with cling film. The peppers will sweat as they cool, making it easier to peel off the skins. Remove the skins and the seeds. Roughly chop the flesh.
While the peppers are roasting, toast the cumin, coriander and caraway seeds in a dry frying pan over medium heat for about 1 minute, or until aromatic. Transfer to a mortar and pestle and grind the seeds to a fine powder. Transfer to a food processor along with the garlic, chillies, roasted red peppers and 1 tablespoon of olive oil, to begin with. Process, adding additional olive oil if necessary, until it reaches a thick, sauce-like consistency. The ideal texture is quite fine, so keep pulsing until the mixture is very saucey. Add the black pepper and salt to taste. Allow the marinade to stand for at least hour in the fridge before using.
When ready to marinate, place the chops in a plastic container and rub generously with the harissa. Leave to marinate for about 1-2 hours (or up to 6 hours).
When ready to cook, preheat a large frying pan (preferably cast iron). Remove the chops from the marinade. Brush off excess harissa, season with salt and rub with a little oil. When the pan is nice and hot, sear on each side for 4 minutes. If there is a lot of fat on the chops, be sure to sear that too and to render it down. If you’re being quite specific and using a meat thermometer, you’re looking for an internal temperature of about 52 – 53 ºC for medium rare. When the chops are done, remove from the heat and allow to rest for about 5 minutes.
Whisk the red wine vinegar, sugar, salt and water together in a small bowl until the sugar and salt have dissolved. Add the sliced onion and stir together. Leave to stand at room temperature for 1 hour.
In a food processor, combine mint, shallots, vinegar, olive oil, garlic and salt until smooth. Season to taste with salt and black pepper.
Preheat a grill pan. Slice the peaches in half and remove the pips. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with brown sugar. Grill the peaches, flesh side down, until grill lines appear. This should take about 10 minutes. Flip and grill the other side as well. Carefully remove from the grill using a palette knife. Set aside to cool.
Bring a small saucepan of salted water to the boil, and blanch the asparagus until just tender, about 3-4 minutes. Refresh in cold water and remove once cool. Season with salt and black pepper.
Arrange the salad leaves either in a bowl or on individual serving plates. Top with grilled peaches, avocado, pickled red onion and asparagus. Sprinkle with toasted pine nuts and dress with the mint dressing. Serve alongside the Harissa-marinated lamb chops.
See the other recipes in this series…