Did you know that plain yogurt is an excellent base for a marinade? It slowly tenderizes the meat, rendering it juicy, but never meaty or tough; plus it leaves a pleasant tangy flavor behind. In this case, a simple blend of yogurt, shallot, lemon and salt is a perfect match for lamb’s richness.
A portion of the mixture is set aside to purée with tender green herbs and lemon juice for a quick finishing sauce after the lamb is done. The original recipe called for baby lamb chops (aka lollipop chops), but we prefer a meatier cut such as the loin chop, and the ingredients list reflects our changes.
The yogurt sauce mixture not only complimented the meat but benefited the sliced cucumbers as well. Another side was whole wheat pearl couscous cooked in homemade chicken stock for added flavor.
Herby Yogurt Sauce with Grilled Lamb Chops and Cucumber Couscous Salad
1 tsp. grated lemon zest, plus 1 Tbsp. lemon juice, all from 1 lemon
8 loin lamb chops
1 cup packed fresh tender herbs (such as parsley, dill and mint leaves), plus more for serving
1 cup pearl whole wheat couscous, cooked according to package directions
1 cucumber, sliced thin for serving
Stir together yogurt, shallot, salt, and lemon zest in a medium bowl. Measure 1 cup of the mixture into a large ziploc bag. Cover and refrigerate the remaining 1/2 cup yogurt mixture.
Add lamb chops to ziploc bag; seal bag and turn to coat lamb in sauce. Let marinate in the fridge at least 2 hours, and up to 24. Ours marinated 8 hours.
Preheat grill to high (450°-500°). Scrape off excess marinate from lamb, then discard the bag .
Sprinkle chops evenly with salt and pepper. Arrange chops on oiled grill grates. Grill covered, turning once or twice until browned and a thermometer inserted in the thickest part of the meat registers 135° for medium-rare; about 10 minutes total; lollipop chops will take about 5 minutes.
Transfer chops to a platter and let rest for 5 minutes.
Meanwhile, transfer reserved yogurt mixture to a food processor. Add fresh herbs and lemon juice; pulse until smooth, about 20 pulses.
Serve lamb alongside sauce, cooked couscous, cucumbers and additional herbs.
It was a dead heat as to whether the main entrée, Steak Diane, or our accompaniment, Roasted Carrots with Blood Orange and Rosemary, should take top billing.This version of Steak Diane, classically made with filet mignon, uses a more reasonably-priced flank steak. The beefier profile of the cut holds its own against a daring sauce that highlights cognac, sherry, Worcestershire sauce, and flavorful herbs—no complaints here!
Our “24-Carrot-Gold” side dish, were a perfect “10”. Roasting the slender veggies whole gives this easy sidekick a dressy feel—as does using blood oranges (regular ones work too, but lack the pizazz.) And that final embellishment of a maple syrup drizzle halfway through roasting, renders a wonderful caramelization to the underside that takes the root veggies to a higher level, guaranteeing a spot in your top ten accompaniments of all time. (Make sure to buy the young tender carrots with the greens still intact.)
As far as the instructions, we did not change a thing for either dish, nor did we a year ago when we made the steak and carrots the first time, so it’s a safe bet to follow the recipes as written—an ideal dinner for two: romantically luxurious and indulgent. I mentioned back then, that Valentines was around the corner, it already came and went this year, but doesn’t mean you have to wait until next year to treat yourself…
2 oz. (4 Tbs.) cold unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces
3 Tbs. thinly sliced fresh chives
2 Tbs. finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
1/2 tsp. fresh lemon juice, more to taste
Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 400°F.
Pat the steak dry and season generously with salt and pepper. In an ovenproof heavy-duty 12-inch skillet (preferably cast iron), heat the oil over high heat until shimmering hot, about 2 minutes. Brown the steak on both sides, about 4 minutes total.
Transfer the skillet to the oven and continue to cook until an instant-read thermometer inserted in the thickest part of the meat reads 135°F, about 5 minutes.
Transfer the steak to a platter, cover loosely with foil, and let rest for 5 to 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, pour off the fat in the skillet (be careful of the hot handle). Set the skillet over medium heat, add the shallot, sherry, Cognac, and Worcestershire sauce. Simmer, stirring and scraping the bottom of the pan with a wooden spatula to release any browned bits, until the sauce is reduced by half, 2 to 3 minutes.
Lower the heat to low, add the chicken broth, butter, chives, and parsley and whisk, swirling the pan occasionally, to emulsify the butter; the sauce should look creamy. Remove from the heat, whisk in the lemon juice and season to taste with salt, pepper, and more lemon juice.
Cut the steak in half with the grain, then slice the meat on the diagonal across the grain into 1/8-inch slices. Serve with the sauce.
1-1/2 lb. slender carrots, peeled and trimmed, leaving an inch of greens at the top if possible
3 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
1 tsp. Dijon mustard
1 medium blood orange or regular orange; zest finely grated and juice squeezed
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 Tbs. fresh rosemary leaves
1 Tbs. pure maple syrup
Heat the oven to 425°F.
Arrange the carrots in a single layer on a foil-lined rimmed baking sheet. In a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil, mustard, and orange zest. Pour over the carrots and toss to coat. Season generously with salt and pepper.
Pour the orange juice around the carrots. Top with the rosemary. Cover tightly with foil and roast until the carrots are nearly tender, 15 to 20 minutes.
Uncover, drizzle with the maple syrup, and roast, uncovered, until tender and beginning to brown, 15 to 20 minutes more. Gently toss, season to taste with salt, and serve.