BBQ season is upon us. As is traditional on that first time for six or seven months, one enters into the usual look-under-the-lid-then-quail-mightily routine and proceeds to scrub all the grills like buggery under superheated water for about an hour. But with that, the long winter sporing season has gone and essential maintenance is past..... The temperature has ascended beyond 10 degrees Kelvin. Therefore and forsoothe, man must have meat and man must cook meat!
But - hold yer firelighters - swirling the essential BBQ accessory, a liberally dosed gin and tonic in the left hand while thoughtfully twirling this season's BBQ tongues in the right, it may occur to your average suburban outdoor culinerary warrior that, frankly, sausages again for 2007 is a bit lacking in ambition. Now there's nowt wrong with a decent sanger but surely there's more to life than pork in a cylindrical skin? Dear Ladies reading this blog, please do not consider *that* to be a disencouragement however....
So! Looking for a little inspiration, I picked up a Gordon Ramsey (Gordon Makes It Easy) and turned to the small section on BBQ ideas. Catching my eye was 'Barnsley Chops' so I proceeded to make it.
A Barnsley Chop is a double thickness lamb chop cut across the entire saddle. So unlike a normal chop it has the bone in the middle and meat either side. Bout the same thickness as a sirloin steak. Gordon's approach is as follows;
Get 4 to 6 Barnsley Chops from a good quality butcher. Lay them in a shallow dish and shout at them "so you fucking think you're fucking good enough to be cooked do you, you fucking pricks? In all my life I've never seen anything so fucking moronic!!!", throw the cat at the wall and go and do a monologue to camera in another room while puce in the face.
Next, drizzle at least a couple of teaspoons of thin pourable honey over the chops and spread it around. Then add a glass of red wine and several really good turns of black pepper over both sides. Let the chops marinade in there overnight or for a good few hours and turn / splosh the marinade over them a couple of times in the course of things. This is yer basic bbq victim, already prepared. Bosh.
To serve with it, you want to make some fresh mint sauce. It's a piece of piss and a revelation about how good this is compared to bought. Put 125ml of white wine vinegar in a pan with 2 teaspoons of sugar and 1 very finely chopped shallot. Heat to to the boil and let it bubble off til it has reduced by half. If you can do this by eye, good luck to you. I used a pyrex measuring jug and still slightly overshot. Quick tot of white wine vinegar and further reduction and it was all good. Take off the boil and then add a really good handful of very finely chopped fresh mint. Shout 'you're not fucking leafy now are you you fucking cock?' into the green mix and put it in the fridge to cool / leave out depending how far ahead you do this.
So it couldn't really be any more simple. When the time comes, get your bbq to a hot but not roaring heat and cook for 4-6 minutes on each side, dosing the chops with the marinade as you go. Since you have the inestimable good taste to check out electricdeath you are unlikely to be in the majority of moronity of manhood that treats a bbq as an instrument by which to *literally* carbonate the outside of all food into a 3cm black crust and an inner core without juices. However, I do find lamb an interesting one on a bbq - the meat is nice chargrilled but it's a fatty food and the fat blackens very heavily looking like it's over-cooked. So pay attention to the heat of the bbq and navigate the appropriately cooked but not charred to hell. I stuck the kids' ones on a couple of minutes earlier than ours and it seemed to pan out quite well. As always a good knife-thru-and-check is the key to getting it the way you like it.
I served ours with new potatoes, salad and the fresh mint sauce. It was pretty damn top. The marinaded lamb was quite subtle but a succulent addition. The mint sauce absolutely wonderful with it but quickly became added in little dabs so as not to overwhelm the marinaded flavour.
Now one caveat - it tasted great but the chops are a bit fiddly manually and well chop-like i.e. you are cutting round the bone and stuff. Great value, less easy - if you don't mind, get stuck in and give it a go. I can definitely imagine doing this with a more steak-like cut of lamb instead however if doing it for guests and stuff....
Given it's lamb you cannot really go wrong with most sorts of red wine (it is said that wine writers get heartily sick of lamb in each new year's release as all wine growers serve lamb with their new releases as it is the best complement to red wine possible), however, given the vinegar content of the mint sauce, an expensive or delicate red would be wasted. I would recommend Casillero del Diablo Cabernet Sauvignon which is widely available in many supermarkets (Sainsbury today) and offies. Won the 'best value red wine in the world' in Wine Magazine's 2006 awards and puts out a great deal more than the 5.99 purchase price. A top slurp and glug. The Merlot's worth a go as well but the Cab Sauv is the win and, being less soft than the merlot will better mix with the lamb, the chargrill and the mint.
Well that's it. Mop the juice up with some warm crusty bread and shout 'that was fucking lovely wasn't it you fucking prick!' and settle back with a big ol' glass of the devil's own....