Editor's Note: Margaret M. Johnson is the author of seven Irish cookbooks, most recently, “Flavors of Ireland.” Coming soon, “Christmas Flavors of Ireland.”
Clever cooks often marinate meat in an alcohol-based product to tenderize and add flavor to it. Both pork and lamb chops are perfect for this technique, especially less expensive cuts, which are great for outdoor grilling. Marinate the lamb chops for at least 12 hours before you plan to grill them; for the pork chops, your favorite light ale will be delicious for the brine. Serve the chops with a mixed green salad and Crushed Potatoes (recipe follows), a different take on traditional mashed!
Marinated Lamb Chops
- 1/2 cup Irish whiskey
- 3/4 cup olive oil
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1 small onion, chopped
- 2 sprigs fresh thyme
- 1 sprig fresh rosemary
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- Salt and freshly ground pepper
- One 1/2-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and grated
- 6 (4-6 ounces) lamb cutlets, chops, or steaks
- Crushed potatoes for serving
1. Combine the whiskey, olive oil, garlic, onion, thyme, rosemary, cayenne, salt, pepper, and ginger in a sealable jar and shake to blend. Place the lamb in a shallow dish and pour the marinade over it. Cover and refrigerate for at least 12 hours.
2. Prepare a medium-hot fire in a charcoal grill, preheat a gas grill to medium-high, or preheat the broiler. Remove the lamb from the marinade. Grill or broil 4 inches from the heat source, for 5 minutes on each side (for rare). Brush once with the marinade after turning. Serve immediately with the potatoes.
Beer-Brined Pork Chops
- 5 cups water
- 1/2 cup coarse salt
- 1/2 cup light brown sugar
- 3 bottles any European-style pilsner
- 6 allspice berries
- 1 bay leaf
- 6 (1 1/4-1 1/2-in-thick) bone-in center-cut pork chops
- Crushed potatoes for serving
1. In a large saucepan over medium heat, bring the water to a boil. Add the salt and sugar and cook for 4-5 minutes, or until dissolved. Remove from the heat and stir in the ale, allspice, and bay leaf. Let the mixture cool to room temperature.
2. Put the pork chops in a large re-sealable plastic bag, pour the beer brine in, seal, and refrigerate for 4-6 hours. Turn the bag periodically.
3. Prepare a medium-hot fire in a charcoal grill, or preheat a gas grill to medium-high. Remove the chops from the marinade and pat dry. Grill the pork chops for about 10 minutes on each side, or until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the center of the chops registers 145ºF to 150ºF. Move the chops to a cooler part of the grill if browning too quickly. Transfer the chops to a platter, cover with foil, and let stand for 5 minutes before serving with the potatoes.
Serves 6 to 8 as a side dish
- 2 pounds small potatoes (fingerlings, Yukon Gold, or Red Bliss), unpeeled
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 3 tablespoons crumbled blue cheese or 1 tablespoon whole-grain mustard (optional)
- Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
1. Cook the potatoes in a large pot of boiling salted water for about 30 minutes, or until tender, and drain. Return them to the same pot to dry out a little.
2. With a wooden spoon, roughly crush the potatoes. Stir in the butter, oil, and cheese or mustard, if using. Season to taste with salt and pepper.