Spicing it up with Middle Eastern flavor
July 14, 2006
Today’s recipe is an interesting endeavor into some spices of which most of us are not aware. After preparing it at home together, Karen and I thought that this recipe would be a great one to share with all of you.
Sumac is an interesting spice used widely in the Middle East. My first encounter with it was when customer and friend Fred Scarpello, about 10 years ago, dropped by the restaurant after some traveling and told me about a great lamb dish he had which was spiced with sumac. He gave me some to play with, and Karen and I did so at home. We quickly fell in love with it. The spice is very tart and clean; it is not overpowering.
Used with lamb, it’s a great accent, with the tartness cutting the gaminess characteristics. It’s like adding lemon juice or fresh lemon to seafood.
Even though I am of Middle Eastern descent, my only experience with sumac was as a blend of other spices – a mixture called Zahtar. The real chore with sumac is finding a source. We get ours from a couple of delicatessens in New York – Zabars (www.zabars.com) and Kalustyan’s (www.kalustyans.com).
For us food nuts, these two famous Middle Eastern delicatessens have a plethora of items that are impossible to find locally. They are great sources and well worth the time spent to access their various products.
In this dish, I like to use a lamb loin chop or T-bone, approximately 11Ú2-to-2 inches thick, two or three per serving.
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My wine recommendation is a red zinfandel such as Rocking Horse, either 2002 or 2003, which would make a great match. Check with Ben’s Liquor and Aloha Wine and Spirits for their zinfandel choices.
Karen and I are sure this will be a dinner to remember. As always enjoy, enjoy, enjoy!!!
Encrusted Grilled Lamb Loin Chops with Pomegranate Sauce
Rub for the lamb:
• 2 T. sumac
• 2 T. fresh mint, finely chopped
• 2 T. or 4 large cloves garlic, finely chopped
• 1 teaspoon each salt and pepper, or to taste
• 1 teaspoon olive oil (does not have to be extra-virgin)
Combine all ingredients in a bowl. This mixture will easily spice 10 to 12 lamb chops. Rub on both sides and let sit at room temperature for 2 hours.
When cooking the lamb chops, make sure your barbecue is hot (medium-high to high). Cook approximately 5 to 7 minutes per side (for medium-rare). Be sure to watch carefully, as the cooking time will be different for each type of barbecue. There is no way to actively control the heat on a barbecue so that it is consistent.
• 2 cups pomegranate juice
• 1 T. fresh lemon juice
• 2 T. unsweetened butter
• 2 T. flour
• 1Ú4 cup zinfandel wine (the rest is for the cooks)
• 1Ú2 teaspoon fresh pepper
• 1Ú2 teaspoon kosher salt
• 1Ú4 cup finely shaved mint for garnish
• Mint sprigs or large leaves for plate decorations
To prepare the sauce, in a medium skillet add 2 cup of pure pomegranate juice (We’ve been able to find it at the local grocery stores, so if not sure what you are looking for, ask your grocery clerk.).
Over medium heat, reduce juice by 50 percent then add a touch of fresh lemon juice (about 1 tablespoon) and 1Ú2 tablespoon fresh ground pepper. Reduce again by 50 percent. Set aside for 15 minutes.
In a separate pan, add 2 tablespoons unsweetened butter and melt over medium-low heat. When melted and bubbly, add 2 tablespoons of flour.
Mix together with a whisk until thoroughly incorporated. Add 1Ú4 cup of dry red wine (a red zinfandel is my pick). Mix thoroughly; it should be very pasty.
Slowly add the pomegranate reduction.
When complete, you should have a nice, silky sauce. If it seems too thick, add a little more zinfandel to the mixture. At the very end, add salt and pepper to taste and 1 flat teaspoon of Sumac. Simmer for approximately 10 minutes, and it’s done.
Set aside until needed.
If you make the sauce well in advance and need to reheat, do so over very low heat. I like to garnish the chops at the end with finely shaved fresh mint, pine nuts and maybe a sprig of mint leaves.
• Charlie Abowd is the owner and chef at Adele’s. He and his wife, Karen, have lived in Carson City since 1980. Charlie is a fourth-generation restaurateur.