GRILLED LAMB LOLLIPOPS WITH ORANGE ZEST, THYME & SWEET POTATOES
Low and slow or grilled over a fast and furious heat define the cooking techniques for perfect lamb. Delicious piping hot or room temperature, lamb may be one of the easiest meats to prepare for a gathering. A bit expensive for the meat lover's crowd, just a couple of ounces of the lamb's rich flavor are seriously satisfying. Serve with CANNELLINI BEANS, CRUMBS YO!, KALE & ROASTED GARLIC, warm crusty bread, and some baked ricotta. This meal may crack the rustic family favorites for generations. The sweet potatoes and the marinade may be made a day in advance. Add a flower garnish and edible fresh pomegranate seeds to turn this plate into visual ambrosia.
Nota bene: Ask a butcher to prepare the lollipops and insist on uniform ribs and a thin layer of fat. Often, the last ribs on a rack are smaller and will cook faster than others. The fat should be trimmed to no more than 1/8" thick or it will overwhelm the delicate meat. Prepared fresh pomegranate seeds are readily available in season in the produce department of most supermarkets. Pomegranate molasses can be found in most Middle Eastern groceries.
4 medium sweet potatoes
1 orange, zest and juice
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
18 lamb rib chops, 1" thick
2 tablespoons fresh oregano, chopped
1/2 cup olive oil
3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Maldon Sea Salt Flakes
Pomegranate molasses (optional)
1/2 cup pomegranate seeds (optional)
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
2. Use a fork or knife to poke holes in the sweet potatoes. Cover a half sheet baking tray with aluminum foil, put the potatoes in the tray and place in the oven. Roast for 40 minutes, or until a knife can be inserted into the potatoes and easily removed.
3. When cool enough to handle, remove the skins, add the butter, 2 tablespoons orange juice, salt and pepper to taste. Set aside or refrigerate until ready to plate.
4. Combine the oregano, olive oil, 1 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon pepper, 3 tablespoons orange juice and zest. Stir and pour into a Ziploc bag.
5. Add the chops and marinate for at least one hour and up to one day.
6. Fire up a grill to the highest setting. Just before grilling the marinated chops, turn the grill down to low. Add the chops, cover and cook for 2 minutes. Turn and grill covered 2 minutes more for medium rare lollipops.
7. Reheat the sweet potatoes. Use a 2" ice cream scoop to form sweet potato balls at equal distances along a wood board or platter.
8. Garnish with fresh oregano, flowers, and a sprinkling of pomegranate seeds.
9. Grab the bone of each rib and stick the flesh into the dollop of sweet potato so that it stands on their own.
10. Finish with a drizzle of pomegranate molasses, a sprinkling of sea salt flakes, and a few grinds of freshly ground pepper.