The holy trinity of herbs in the Sicilian kitchen is basil, oregano, and mint. Those three herbs were always on hand in our small garden growing up in New York City. Having fresh herbs readily available is a great convenience. Most of the time I’m successful in growing them in my garden. But this year, the mint I planted two years ago is growing like crazy and has taken over. Beware that if you stick it in the ground, it will take on a life of its own. Needless to say, I love using mint to cook with. After several hours of gardening it was time to put it to good use for dinner. This recipe for grilled lamb chops is topped with a Sicilian tomato, mint, and garlic grilling sauce (ammogghiu).
I was fortunate to find some meaty lamb rib chops for the photo in this posting, but you can also use loin chops, or arm chops. Although my mother is a stickler for using only lamb for this recipe – it’s also good on beef rib eye steaks. It’s the mint that really makes this dish come alive.
GRILLED LAMB CHOPS WITH TOMATO MINT SAUCE
Agneddu alla Brace cú Ammogghiu di Pumaroru é Menta/
Agnello alla Brace con Salmoriglio di Pomodoro é Menta
Difficulty Rating: Easy
Makes 4 servings.
5 ripe plum tomatoes
2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint leaves
2 cloves garlic
1 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
8 1-inch thick lamb rib or loin chops
Special Equipment Needed: Mortar and pestle
PREPARE THE TOMATOES: Bring a large saucepan of water to boil over high heat. Plunge the tomatoes in and cook for about 3 minutes, until skins start to split. Remove tomatoes with a slotted spoon and under cold water for 1 minute. When cool enough to handle, remove the skins with the tip of a small knife. Cut tomatoes in half lengthwise and remove seeds. Crush the tomatoes in a mortar and pestle or and pulse in a food processor for a few second until tomatoes are minced. You can also mince the tomatoes on a cutting board. You should have about 1 cup. Place tomato and juices in a small bowl.
SALT LAMB CHOPS: Lightly salt lamb chops and let rest for 1 hour before grilling.
MAKE GRILING SAUCE: Heat grill on high heat. Using a large mortar and pestle, pound the mint, garlic, and salt into a smooth paste. Add to the tomatoes. Stir olive oil and black pepper and mix until well combined.
GRILL LAMB CHOPS: Grill lamb chops to desired doneness, approximately 4 minutes on each side for medium-rare. Immediately place the lamb chops on a serving platter and spoon sauce on top. Let sit 10 minutes before serving.