Take Your Taste Buds on a Trip to Greece With These Lamb Blade Chops
This is a recipe I came across while staying for a week in a Bed and Breakfast run by an elderly Greek couple that also owned a small winery. In general I personally find Greek wine to be slightly smoother than drinking paint thinner. However they used the leftover grape solids for steaming meat that imparted a unique flavor to red meats and homemade pork sausages. They were always running on a tight budget so rather than using loin chops of lamb they liked to use blade chops, taken from the shoulder primal of the lamb.
Since blade chops have a high amount of connective tissue they need to be slow cooked in order to render the collagen into gelatin. Then the chops can be finished over the direct heat of a grill or seared on a very hot cast iron pan.
Of course if you don’t live in wine country, it’s pretty much impossible to get your hands on leftover grape solids. With a little experimentation I’ve found that you can get pretty much the same result with some grapes a few prunes and an aggressive splash of a medium red wine.
This recipe finishes with a modified form of the red wine reduction in the sauces chapter. The recipe made by the elderly Greek couple called for a white Greek wine that could also be used to peel wallpaper from the walls. Instead I would seek out a decent Shiraz.
Large stock pot
2 Large steamer baskets, stacked
Charcoal or propane grill
Cast iron pan (Optional)
Large work bowl
Medium non-stick sauce pan
4 lamb blade chops, weighing approximately 8 to 10 ounces each
2 cups of raisins
1 cup of prunes, chopped
10 large cabbage leaves
2 tablespoons of fresh mint leaves
2 cups of a medium red wine such as Shiraz or Pinot Noir
2 cups of water
2 tablespoons of red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon of salt
1 teaspoon of fresh cracked black pepper
Red Wine Reduction Sauce
1 shallot minced
1 clove of garlic, minced
2 cups of the drippings/sauce from the stock pot
1 tablespoon of coconut oil
1 teaspoon of fresh rosemary, chopped fine
½ teaspoon of fresh Greek oregano, chopped fine
½ teaspoon of fresh thyme
2 tablespoons of fresh spear mint leaves, chopped
How to make delicious Lamb Blade Chops
Step 1: Fill the bottom of the stock pot with the raisins, prunes and mint leaves. Then cover then with the cabbage leaves.
Step 2: Pour the medium red wine, water and red wine vinegar over the top.
Step 3: Fill the steamer baskets with the blade chops. The chops can touch each other but should not overlap.
Step 4: Turn the heat on to low and place the lid on. Allow the blade chops to steam for 2½ hours or until the bones in the blade chops are slightly sticking out from the meat and appear ready to pull away. You don’t want the chops to be completely fork tender as you will still need to manipulate them on the grill. Note that the cook time might be longer in larger or thicker blade chops.
Step 5: Fire up your grill to high heat. If you are using a charcoal grill, you will get a hotter fire from using jumbo lump charcoal rather than basic briquettes.
Step 6: Remove the top from the stock pot. Then carefully remove the steamer basket from the pot. Remove the blade chops from the steamer basket. Season both sides with salt and pepper then lightly glaze with coconut oil.
Step 7: Add 1 tablespoon of coconut oil to the medium sauce pan over medium heat. When it melts and starts to shimmer add the garlic and shallots. Sweat until they take on a light golden color.
Step 8: Carefully pour off 2 cups of the reserved sauce from the steamer pot into a medium size sauce pan along with the red wine.
Step 9: Place the chops on the grill and sear for 2 to 3 minutes per side.
Step 10: Remove the chops from the heat and tent under heavy duty tinfoil and a tea towel to help retain their heat while you finish the red wine reduction sauce.
Step 11: Once the red wine sauce has reduced by half add the herbs and the rest of the butter. Allow it to continue to reduce.
Step 12: Once the red wine reduction sauce has a consistency like loose ketchup.
Remove it from the heat and use immediately.
While this dish is nice with sautéed greens I think you’ll find roasted endive to be an agreeable companion. Pair this with the same wine you used in the sauce and steamer.