Summer is the season of sun, fun, and firing up the grill. In honor of our favorite way to cook when it’s hot outside, we’re bringing you our Grill Master series where we’ll highlight a different food each week. Follow along to learn everything you’ve ever wanted to know about cooking over open flames.
The season is coming to a close, which means it’s time to grill as much as possible before chillier temperatures bring backyard entertaining to an end for the year. Since there are so few weekends left of the summer, you might as well pull out the big guns. Sure, hot dogs and beer can chicken were tasty, but we like lamb for an end of summer blowout. It’s unexpected and feels a lot more special. No worries if you don’t have tons of experience with the protein, because it’s just as simple as cooking pork or beef. Try these seven recipes to totally floor your friends at your end-of-summer cookout.
1. Grilled Lamb Chops with Blackberry Relish
Just like pork, lamb partners wonderfully with fruit. Everything from apricots to cherries taste great with the meat, and we especially like Bobby Flay’s chops topped with blackberries, which he shared with Food & Wine. Best of all, this elegant dish is both fast and easy. Just simmer the berries for a few minutes, mix in a couple of other ingredients, then grill the lamb.
If you can’t find decent blackberries, try substituting a jam or fruit preserve. You’ll have to bump up the lime juice and salt to help counteract the added sweetness, but it’ll still be delicious.
- 2 cups blackberries
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1 tablespoon chopped mint
- 1 tablespoon prepared horseradish
- 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, plus more
- Salt and freshly ground pepper
- 8 (4- to 5-ounce, 1-inch-thick) loin lamb chops, trimmed
Directions: In a medium saucepan, cook berries and sugar over medium-high heat until softened, but still intact, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a bowl. Stir in mint, horseradish, lime juice, and 1 tablespoon oil. Season with salt and pepper. Let cool.
Light a grill or preheat a grill pan. Brush lamb chops with oil and season with salt and pepper. Grill over a medium-high flame until medium rare, about 2 minutes per side. Serve with blackberry relish
2. Lamb Souvlaki with Yogurt-Garlic Sauce
It’s impossible to have a lamb lineup without at least one Greek recipe, so these marinated skewers from Epicurious win the spot. Pile some pita with the tender pieces of lamb, veggies, and a cool and creamy sauce for a meal that’s way better than your standard gyro. Just be sure to allow plenty of time for the skewers to marinate before grilling.
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh garlic
- 1½ teaspoons oregano
- ¾ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- ⅜ teaspoon kosher salt
- ¾ pound lamb, cut from leg into 12 equal-sized cubes
- 2 yellow bell peppers, cored, and cut into 1-inch strips
- 1 red onion, cut into 8 pieces
- 16 cherry tomatoes
- Cooking spray
- 4 whole-wheat pitas
- 2 cucumbers, peeled, and chopped
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- ¾ cup nonfat Greek yogurt
- 1 teaspoon chopped fresh garlic
Directions: Mix first five ingredients to create marinade, and set aside. Evenly distribute lamb, peppers, onion, and tomatoes among eight skewers. Place in a large, shallow pan and add marinade. Cover and refrigerate at least 3 hours, turning once.
Heat a grill to medium. Spray cooking grate with cooking spray. Grill lamb until medium rare and lightly charred, 5 to 8 minutes, rotating to cook evenly. Alternatively, broil in oven for about 6 minutes, rotating to cook evenly.
In a food processor, purée cucumber with a pinch of salt. Remove to a colander and squeeze out juice. Discard pulp, Whisk cucumber and lemon juices with yogurt and garlic. Season with salt and pepper. Serve with pitas and skewers.
3. Lamb Burgers with Goat Cheese and Avocado
A lot of lamb burgers are made from an overwhelmingly long list of ingredients. This recipe from Fork Knife Swoon shows a simpler method that can yield results that are just as good. A bit of curry powder and paprika are all you need to give the ground lamb tons of flavor. Goat cheese adds some tang and avocado is delightfully creamy. If you prefer spicy curries, mash the avocado with a little bit of jalapeño for a sandwich spread with kick.
- 1 pound ground lamb
- 1 teaspoon curry powder
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 4 broiche or whole-wheat hamburger buns
- 4 tablespoons goat cheese, crumbled
- 1 avocado, pitted, and sliced
- Sliced red onion
- Sliced cucumber
Directions: Preheat grill to medium-high. In a large bowl, mix lamb with paprika, curry powder, salt, and pepper using your hands. Mix thoroughly, being as gently as possible. Form mixture into four ¾-inch-thick patties. On a clean, greased cooking grate, grill burgers until cooked through, about 4 minutes per side, or until cooked to your desired doneness.
Lightly toast buns on grill, cut-side down. Serve burgers on buns topped with goat cheese, avocado, and additional toppings. Serve.
4. Grilled Butterflied Leg of Lamb
Leg of lamb is usually a showstopping dish reserved for Easter, since it takes so long to cook. If you go for a boneless version, you can actually turn the meat into a quicker entrée. This recipe from Martha Stewart’s Everyday Food is one of our favorites. It gets tons of flavor from a marinade of balsamic vinegar, rosemary, lemon juice, and garlic, plus the added smoky taste that comes from grilling.
Any butcher will be happy to bone the leg for you, and some shops have them ready to go. If you’d like to save a few bucks and get your hands a little dirty, you can also do it yourself. Check out this guide from BBC Good Food.
- ⅓ cup olive oil
- ¼ cup fresh lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- 2 tablespoons minced fresh rosemary, or 2 tablespoons dried rosemary
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- Salt and pepper
- 1 (4- to 5-pound) boneless, butterflied let of lamb, trimmed of excess fat
Directions: In a medium bowl, whisk oil, lemon juice, vinegar, rosemary, garlic, 2 teaspoons salt, and ½ teaspoon pepper to combine. Place lamb in a large, shallow dish with marinade, and turn to coat. Cover, and marinate at room temperature for 1 hour, or in refrigerator overnight, turning occasionally. If refrigerated, bring to room temperature before grilling.
Heat a grill to medium-high. Thread metal skewers through lamb in both directions to keep meat in one piece.
Grill until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the meat reads 140 degrees Fahrenheit for medium rare, 10 to 15 minutes per side. Let meat rest, covered, about 10 minutes. Remove skewers and thinly slice against the grain. Serve.
5. Smoked Lamb Ribs
Pork ribs are the go-to order for barbecue lovers everywhere, but grilling superstar Steven Raichlen says lamb versions taste just as fantastic. For an elegant take on this backyard favorite, try pitmaster Chris Lilly’s fig-glazed lamb ribs, featured on Food Republic. They’ll have all your guests coming back for seconds.
- ¾ teaspoon dried thyme
- ¾ teaspoon dried rosemary
- ¾ teaspoon dried oregano
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1½ teaspoons soy sauce
- 3½ teaspoons salt
- 3 teaspoons paprika
- 2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
- 2 teaspoons garlic powder
- ¾ teaspoon ground ginger
- 3 (2½-pound) slabs lamb ribs
- 1½ cups port
- ¾ cup black cherry juice
- 4 black mission figs
- 1 rosemary sprig
- 1 cup distilled white vinegar
- ¾ cup plus 2 tablespoons ketchup
- 1 teaspoon honey
- ¾ cup dark brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon chili powder
- 1¾ teaspoons kosher salt
- 1¼ teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
- ½ teaspoon cayenne
Directions: In a medium saucepan, combine port, cherry juice, figs, and rosemary. In a separate saucepan combine vinegar, ketchup, honey, brown sugar, chili powder, 1¾ teaspoons salt, 1¼ teaspoons pepper, and cayenne. Bring each pan to a boil over high heat. Reduce to medium and simmer sauces, stirring occasionally until both are reduced by half, about 30 minutes.
Remove pans from heat. Remove figs and rosemary from port, and discard. Add port to vinegar mixture, and stir to combine.
Preheat a charcoal or gas grill to 250 degrees Fahrenheit, prepared for indirect cooking. Lightly chop thyme, rosemary, and oregano. Add oil, soy sauce, salt, paprika, black pepper, garlic powder, and ginger. Mix into a paste, then apply evenly to lamb ribs.
Cook ribs over indirect heat with lid closed, until dark brown and tender, about 3½ hours. Remove ribs, and generously brush with sauce. Return to grill over indirect heat, close lid, and cook until caramelized, about 10 minutes. Transfer to a cutting board. Let rest 5 minutes, then cut between bones, and serve.
6. Grilled Garlicky Lamb Shoulder Chops with Sherry Vinegar and Radicchio
The only downside to feasting on lamb chops is the damage it can do to your wallet. The solution? Shoulder chops. They cost a lot less than loin chops, and The Splendid Table actually prefers the flavor of this lesser-known cut. Get a taste for yourself by making The New York Times’ simple lamb and radicchio dish. They might not be quite as pretty as some of the fancy chops you see at restaurants, but the taste will knock you out.
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more
- 4 (10-ounce, 1-inch-thick) lamb shoulder chops
- Kosher salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 2 large heads radicchio, outer leaves removed
- 1½ tablespoons sherry vinegar
- 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 2 teaspoons chopped fresh sage, plus more
Directions: Preheat grill and oil grate. Generously season chops with salt and pepper.
Quarter radicchio lengthwise, leaving core intact so leaves hold together. Place in a bowl, and gently toss with 2 tablespoons oil and salt and pepper, to taste.
Grill chops and radicchio. Cook chops until browned and cooked to desired doneness, about 4 minutes per side for medium rare. Cook radicchio until tender and slightly browned, about 3 minutes per side.
Meanwhile, stir vinegar, garlic, and 2 teaspoons sage to combine. Season with salt and pepper.
Transfer lamb and radicchio to plates. Season with salt, spoon vinegar mixture over top, garnish with additional sage, and serve.
7. Grilled Merguez Sandwiches with Caramelized Onions, Manchego, and Harissa Mayonnaise
Forget about brats and hot dogs. Your cookout deserves the winning flavor of merguez, a spicy North African sausage usually made with lamb. All you need are a few other ingredients to turn it into a great meal. We like this hearty sandwich from Serious Eats. It gets a double dose of heat from the sausage and a spicy mayo, plus some sweetness from caramelized onions. Though this method includes recipes for all the components, purchased mayonnaise and sausage will be just as good.
- ⅓ cup mayonnaise
- 1 tablespoon harissa
- 8 links merguez
- 1 French baguette
- ⅓ cup extra-virgin olive oil
- ½ cup caramelized onions
- ⅓ pound Manchego cheese, grated
- 1 bunch fresh cilantro
Directions: Mix mayonnaise and harissa to combine in a small bowl. Set aside.
Light one chimney full of charcoal. Once covered with gray ash, pour into a grill, and arrange on one side of grate. Set cooking grate in place, and let preheat 5 minutes. Clean and oil the grilling grate. Cook sausage over hot side of grill until browned and fully cooked, 4 to 6 minutes. Transfer to a plate.
Slice baguette into four 6-inch portions. Cut each section in half, and brush inside with oil. Grill baguette, cut-side down, until lightly browned, about 1 minute. Remove to a plate.
Top bottom portion of each baguette with 2 sausage links, 2 tablespoons onions, cheese and a few sprigs of cilantro. Spread harissa mayonnaise on top half o baguettes, and set top in place. Serve.
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