This is Canada, EH!
Barbecue isn't just for summer anymore. Us Canadians have long been known to dig out the BBQ from time to time in a foot or more of snow. Good news is, it's only fall, no snow shovel or mittens needed just yet, although you might want to bring an umbrella along with your BBQ tongs.
Because lamb is not as common as beef or pork sometimes how to prepare a delicious cut of organic ontario lamb...or goat, can be confusing. As a general rule, meat is meat, and with the fat content of lamb, you're almost always guaranteed to and up with a tasty piece of meat off the BBQ.
Traditionally the French Rack is cooked medium rare or even blue in the middle in fine dining establisments, however that's not everyone's cut of lamb. In Germany it's unheard of to eat meat that raw, we like it cooked all the way through, and it's much safer from a food safety stand point. However, our lamb is vaccum packed and deep frozen within a day or two, so it's very safe as long as you cook it a short time after thawing or thaw it out in the fridge to keep it cold. So go ahead and cook it to medium rare if that's how you like it, or leave it on a bit longer if you prefer it that way.
We start out with a nice rack - although you can pretty much cook any cut with this method. From there you can get creative. This time I kept it super simple, but you can let your imagination and taste buds go wild. You can keep it easy like I did, or you can start a few hours to a day before cooking with a marinade. Here's a simple marinade recipe that's great with lamb or just about any other red meat:
1/4-1/3 cup vinegar your choices include balsamic (which I would prefer for lamb), apple cider or red wine or any other high quality vinegar... don't use malt or white vinegar
1/2 -3/4 cup high quality oil. I recommend extra virgin olive oil as it will add to the flavour, or a lighter oil that will take on the other flavours such as grapeseed
1-3 cloves of garlic, minced or smashed
1 or more fresh sprigs of one (or more) of the following: rosemary, tyme, sage, oregano, lemon balm, mint... if you have an herb garden just walk around and rub each between two fingers. If you can imagine it on lamb, give it a try. You can't really go wrong. You
Salt & Pepper
If you want to get even more creative consider adding some of the following
or top with this after cooking:
crumbled feta or blue cheese
honey glazed nuts
Cooking isn't just about nutrition, make it a family event and have fun!
I simply added a bit of coarse sea salt and pepper to my lamb after brushing it with olive oil and rubbed some fresh rosemary over the meat while it warmed up to room temperature. The oil keeps the juices in an makes sure that even the lean edges that touch the BBQ don't stick.
Heat up your BBQ to 400-500*F and get that fatty side down first. Close the lid and after about 2-3 minutes and gently lift with a spatula and tongs (if it sticks too much give it another minute) and then place at a 45* angle from where you had it and give it a couple more minutes to create a nice cross pattern.
Full admission, I got distracted and ended up with a pretty charred edge, but hey, some people go for the 'blackened' edge on purpose for a smokey flavour. So check your meat every couple mintues to prevent it from burnig, but not too often or you loose the heat.
It was still pretty tasty, I just trimmed that off before eating it. You don't want all the fat to cook off, as you want it to baste the meat as you cook it on the rib side.
Cook it on this side for 3 minutes, then stand it up (hold it with the lid open if necessary) for about 1/2 minutes and rotate again for a X pattern.
At this point you want to remove it and let it rest on a plate for about 5-10 minutes or you will loose the moisture when get to the next step. The inside will be pretty rare. After the resting period use a big sharp knive and cut apart between each rib, standing them up on a cutting board. You can save the drippings to dribble over the finished chops before serving.
If you like them nearly rare, you can serve you french chops just like this, if you them cooked more...
Get the BBQ back up to 450-500*F and cook the chops for 30 seconds - 1 minute, then rotate for a nice pattern. If you want you can add salt and pepper at this point. Repeat on the other side.
After you have cooked both sides, use a finger or spoon to feel the meaty part. If it's soft or squishy that means it's medium-rare. Cook it longer or enjoy this way. I finished mine pretty well.
For a fall plate, serve along with some BBQ butternut squash (simply brush with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper) and a juicy tomato salad or go with a more traditional pairing of mashed garlic potatoes or yams.
Lamb pairs nicely with a rich red wine such as Gamay Noir, Cabernets or Merlot from https://www.frogpondfarm.ca/our-wines/red-wines/" target="_blank">The Frogpond Farm Winery. This is what they say about how they grow their grapes:
"By farming organically, we not only help the environment, but we also ensure that our property is a clean and safe place for staff and visitors alike. While growing our grapes, we do not use any chemically based herbicides or fungicides and only organic manure and grape pomace to nourish the soil. In our wine-making process, we do not use any chemical or synthetic products, so that the resulting wines are a natural expression of the grape varieties’ true characteristics and flavours."
The same is true for our Lamb of course. Our sheep and lambs have outdoor access all year, and pasture weather permitting. Along with fresh grass they are fed the highest quality hay form our meadows and grains from our fields, which are fertilized only with composted manure from...you got it, our sheep and goats. We don't use any pesticides or herbicides and rely on the health of the soil to keep our crops strong and resistant.
Our lamb is not as gamey as other lamb, it is tender and has a mild flavour and can be enjoyed without overpowering mint sauce. Even novices enjoy our Organic Ontario Lamb from The Meier Family Organic Farm in the heart of Niagara. Stop by our farm on any Saturday to see what cuts we have currently available and be sure to sign up for our newletter to stay up to date on seasonal produce, new products and fresh lamb or goat.
Happy BBQing, EH!