Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Raspberry Chipotle Lamb Chops w/Cilantro Lime Couscous

In honor of my great love for "sweet dinners" and piquant Mexican flavors, I've decided to do a 3 part blog on dishes using a fruit/chipotle flavor coupling. First in my series is a Mexican/North African fusion of Raspberry Chipotle Lamb Chops with Cilantro-Lime Couscous. I had found a delectably robust raspberry/chipotle barbecue sauce in the Sultan Center many months back and paired it with Lamb Chops (one of my husband's favorites). It came out so exquisite that I told myself I should try a “from-scratch” version of my own someday. With the abundance of canned chipotles stocked up in all markets here, I figured someday should be today..

Raspberry Chipotle Lamb Chops

2 dz Lamb Chops ½ in. thick – frenched
1 bag frozen Raspberries - thawed (or 2 cups fresh if you can afford/find them)
4 canned Chipotle peppers + 1 ½ T. Adobo sauce
1/3 c. Raspberry Vinegar (or red wine or a flavored balsamic works well too)
2/3 c. Vegetable Oil
2 T. Brown Sugar
2 cloves Garlic
Salt TT

~ In a blender, combine all ingredients aside from the chops (I remove the hot seeds from the peppers when cooking for the kids - otherwise the kick is rawther nice). Puree til smooth.

~ Divide chops between 2 large ziploc baggies or place them in a large container so that they can be arranged in a single layer. Divide puree between the 2 bags or coat the single layer of chops and cover with clingwrap. Set in the fridge to marinate overnight. (When ready to cook, grilling will be the best option but you may also use an indoor griddle or a cast iron pan. Ensure whatever you'll be using is screaming hot, in order to get a good sear).

~ Preheat oven to 350*F – On a white hot cooking surface, sear chops for about 2-3 minutes on each side. Season with salt, place chops in an oven-safe dish and slide into your preheated oven for 8-12 minutes until desired doneness (I like most of my meats on the medium side so around 8 min for me, longer for the kids obviously).

Serves 4-6

Cilantro Lime Couscous

1 ½ c. Quick cooking Couscous
2 ¼ c. Water
1 Lime – zested and juiced
½ c. Cilantro – chopped
1 T. Olive Oil
Salt TT

~ In a medium sauce pan bring water and lime juice to a boil then turn off heat – add couscous to the pot and cover. Let stand for 5 minutes to let the couscous absorb all the liquid,

~ Fluff couscous with a fork and mix in cilantro, lime zest, olive oil and salt. Serve in a warm dish.

Mise – don’t forget the garlic cloves. I did and I know they would have made the marinade that much better.
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Frenched/French-style simply means that the rib bones have been scraped clean

That sauce came out smooth – who knew a cheap black & decker blender could be so craptastic and so good @ the same time (R.I.P my beloved red beehive Oster)
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It’s too hot out to grill and I just wanted to get dinner done so I didn’t bother doing batches on my griddler. Cast iron it was!
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Couscous mise
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And eet is done!
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Image and video hosting by TinyPic

The sauce didn't come out looking anything like the bottled one I had bought, and was less intense on the heat and sweetness but this recipe still made for a nice juicy chop.. The kids went YUM for them!

Chipotle Peppers

Chipotles are a traditional Mexican ingredient that is wildly popular in the US, especially the southwestern region that has easier access to the good stuff. Majority of us know their spicy smoky goodness, and we know that they’re peppers, but not everyone I’ve met seems to know that they are the smoked & dried version of jalapeños. (Jalapeños are medium sized chilies (2-3 ½ in.), ranging in color from deep green to bright red and have a medium spicy heat (2500-8000 SHU) according to the Scoville scale).

The ancient Aztec peoples would smoke-dry jalapeños because traditional sun-drying would take too long to thoroughly dry the thick-skinned pepper before it rotted. The drying process has little effect on the heat of the chili.

The product most US consumers are familiar with is the chipotle morita – morita, meaning “little blackberry”, is a description of the black/dark-red/purple dried jalapeño that is produced in the Mexican state Chihuahua.
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Most Mexican consumers use chipotle meco (a.k.a ahumado, tipico), produced in south-central Mexico. These dried chilies resemble cigar butts, are tannish-grey in color and have a smokier flavor than their US preferred counterpart. It is known as the “authentic” chipotle pepper.
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*Side note, I tried getting a definition on “meco” out of the husband. He thought I was asking about “mecco”, which I won’t even mention the definition here but it was funny. Worth a mench.*

Chipotles are sold either in whole dried form, ground into powder, pickled, as a paste or canned in adobo sauce. They can be used in numerous ways – in salsas/sauces, rubs, salts, marinades, soups/stews and even in some creative desserts for those willing to step outside of their preconceived sweet comfort zone.

..More to follow :)