Sunday, April 17, 2011

Playing With Weeds

Chocolate Mint
Lemon balm, chocolate mint, cilantro, parsley, lemon grass, Greek oregano, marjoram, rosemary, and basil of all kinds. These are a few of the many home garden cookery herbs that my good friend Rabbit calls "weeds".

Deliciously aromatic weeds can be combined by the handful in just about any combination to make the most wonderful "weedy" marinade. Yesterday, weeds were used in mass quantities to make a fantastic marinade for lamb chops.

Pick the weeds fresh from your garden or fresh from the weed section of your local grocery. What weeds are entirely up to you, but make sure that some sort of mint is in the mix!

Marinade of Weeds for Lamb Chops
nutrition facts

What you need to make four servings:

8 lamb chops
2-4 cups of  your choice of five fresh herbs (weeds) from the list below:
     Chocolate mint or mix of mint(s)
     parsley, flat curled or both
     lemon grass
     Greek oregano
1 head of garlic, chopped or pressed
1/2 cup each of the following:
     fresh squeezed lemon juice
     red wine
     olive oil
     either red wine or balsamic vinegar*

*You may use garlic infused vinegar, but still add the head of garlic. It is impossible to over garlic this dish.

What to do:

In the morning head out to the garden with your shears and a large bowl. Harvest large handfuls of weed leaves. Whatever type you have growing in your herb garden is fine... even if it is not on the list. If you think it would go well with lamb, use it.

The critical weed for cooking lamb is chocolate mint, although all sorts of mint work well here - preferably in addition to the chocolate mint. Harvest twice as much oregano and marjoram as you do mint. Mint can overpower and you just want it to just add depth. Toss great mountains of your favorite basil into the harvest bowl. Try lemon basil if you love lemon with lamb. I am not a fan of too much rosemary, but you may love it - harvest accordingly. I usually just collect one small stem, you may need three. Your choice of weeds will become very personal over time as you play with the flavors and make adjustments based upon what you have growing.

Carry the large bunches of greenery into the house, rinse and pat dry with either paper or tea towels..

Remove the leaves and tender parts from the woody stems and discard the woody bits. Wad up manageable clumps of the remaining leaves on a cutting board. Using a large very sharp knife begin chopping the heck out of the weeds until they are so finely chopped as to nearly be a paste...or just very small bits... it all depends on how carried away you get with a cleaver. Scrape the mass of herbs into a large bowl of sufficient size so that it will not overflow when you add liquids.

Chop or press an entire head of garlic cloves and add to the weeds.

Add all the liquids and stir - fresh squeezed lemon juice, red wine, olive oil, and your choice of red wine or balsamic vinegar - or garlic infused olive oil. At this point you could add some fresh cracked black pepper but it is not really necessary as that can be added at the table. Do NOT add salt. The marinade should be thick. If it is not, add some more weeds. Take a good whiff of the mix and adjust the seasonings and liquids until you think it just rocks.

Arrange the lamb chops in a large lidded container or thick zip lock baggie and drown with the marinade. Cover with a lid (or zip the baggie shut) and place in the refrigerator for about 5 hours or until time to grill.

Remove the lamb from the refrigerator about 45 minutes before grilling. Right before grilling, take the chops out of the marinade (discard as it has done its duty well). Grill the lamb over hot coals, turning as needed, for about five minutes on each side which is medium rare (my preference). Lamb chops should never be overcooked as they turn dry and tough, so watch them attentively. Check to make sure they are finished as you like them. My son is not a medium rare person, so we always cook his chops a few minutes longer on each side.

If you have not tried chocolate mint, go get some immediately and plant so it's there waiting for you the next time you crave lamb.

Most mindfully served with Shirazi Salad and Lemon Spinach Couscous - recipes posted at The CC Palate!

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