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Healthy lamb dish perfect for Passover

April 4, 2011

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For many people, lamb triggers thoughts of spring. And fatty, tough meat.

But lamb — at least spring lamb — can be a healthy choice with a tender texture and mild flavor. It’s all a matter of selecting the right cut.

Lamb rib or loin chops, though a bit pricey, are lower in fat than the more popular (and less expensive) shoulder chops. And they have an exceptionally mild taste. A cooked 3-ounce portion (off the bone) of lamb rib meat has only 10 grams of fat (4 grams saturated).

In this recipe for grilled lamb, lollipop-shaped rib chops are paired with a fresh, gorgeously green chimichurri sauce made from fresh herbs and healthy olive oil.

Grilling the rib chops is an excellent cooking method for lamb because it allows any excess fat to render out of the meat and drip into the fire, rather than ending up in the finished dish.

This simple recipe can be perfect for a Passover seder. Some Jews won’t eat lamb at Passover (or any roasted meats or poultry, for that matter), but others will eat it as long as it’s not roasted. For most, lamb is considered an acceptable entree. If you’d rather skip the lamb, this dish is equally tasty when prepared with boneless, skinless chicken breasts.

GRILLED LAMB CHOPS WITH MINT CHIMICHURRI

For the sauce:

1/4 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley

3 tablespoons red wine vinegar

4 cloves garlic, minced

2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro

2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint

1 teaspoon red pepper flakes

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

Ground black pepper, to taste

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

For the chops:

12 lamb rib chops (about 1 1/2 pounds total)

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt, or to taste

Ground black pepper, to taste

In a food processor, combine the parsley, vinegar, garlic, cilantro, mint, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper. Pulse a few times to chop. With the processor running, add the oil in a stream. Process until the sauce is smooth. Transfer sauce to a bowl and let sit for at least 20 minutes to let the flavors develop. (You can make the sauce ahead, refrigerating it overnight and bringing it to room temperature before serving.)

Meanwhile, prepare the lamb chops.

Light a charcoal fire or gas grill. Rub oil, salt and pepper onto the lamb chops, then grill to desired doneness, about 4 minutes per side for medium rare. Alternatively, cook the lamb chops indoors in a grill pan over medium heat. Serve the chops alongside the chimichurri sauce. Serves 4.

Nutrition information per serving (values are rounded to the nearest whole number): 550 calories; 471 calories from fat (86 percent of total calories); 52 grams fat (18 grams saturated; 0 g trans fats); 84 milligrams cholesterol; 1 gram carbohydrate; 18 gram protein; 426 milligrams sodium.

— Recipe from Lea Koenig’s “The Hadassah Everyday Cookbook”

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