Even though summer has officially ended, we are still in that transitory phase where it’s warm and yes, still pleasant. I actually prefer this phase because grilling is much more fun. So, a few weekends ago, we invited a few of our close friends over for dinner. There was champagne, there was wine, there were lots of fresh tomatoes from my garden and there were grilled lamb chops from American Lamb Board.
One of the biggest dilemmas while trying to simultaneously entertain and cook, is how do you do both at once and also have fun without feeling exhausted. My advice is to plan food that requires very little prep work or stuff that you can prep the day before. Avoid the urge to go too fancy or create a meal that requires extensive work, or you end up (and I know this from experience) feeling miserable and your guests will also not get to have fun with you.
We did a family style meal which is easier to serve. The tomatoes from the garden went into an easy wild rice salad with goat cheese and a little fresh dill. I drizzled some garlic infused grapeseed oil over the salad. I had my friends try out this cauliflower aachar (a type of Indian pickle) that I’ve been experimenting with to get a bit of feedback (I also love to have my guests try out something I’ve been toying with, it creates a fun atmosphere and they get to be my lab rats and taste my food for me). A bit of garlic yogurt and spice infused olive oil. We did another tomato salad with heirloom tomatoes that I grew, a few thinly sliced red onions, sweet peppers arugula and lemon juice. And of course, the gorgeous one-inch thick lamb chops from American Lamb Board that were seasoned with garam masala and cumin and then tossed onto the hot grates and seared till they were just ready to be eaten. The addition of chili gives them just a little bit of heat which is perfect to add a little spark. And for dessert, we had the broiled peaches from my upcoming book Season.
I did not serve appetizers which wasn’t necessary. Often, I prefer having many sides served at the main course and skip the appetizers which is what I did for this meal. This way the dinner draws out for a longer period of time, people can have seconds and thirds and spend their time chatting and having fun. For a more formal meal, I will typically serve appetizers.
grilled lamb chops with garam masala and cumin
1 Tbsp garam masala
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground red chili powder or ½ tsp cayenne powder
1 ½ tsp fine sea salt
12 American Lamb chops (about 1- inch thick)
¼ cup olive oil
2 limes quartered and cut into wedges
Mix the spices from the garam masala to the salt in a small bowl.
Pat the lamb chops dry with clean paper towels. Rub the seasoning over both sides of the lamb chops and place them in a tray, cover and let sit for at least 30 minutes (maximum 1 hour) at room temperature.
When ready to grill, heat the grill and clean the grates. Drizzle the olive oil over the chops. When the grates are hot, place the chops on the hot grates and cook on each side for about 3 to 3 ½ minutes until the internal temperature reaches 145F/63C (rare) or 160F/70F (well-done). Remove from grill allow to rest covered for 5 minutes, then transfer to a serving platter. Serve with the lime wedges on the side.
Disclaimer: This post was sponsored by the American Lamb Board. All opinions expressed are solely my own.