Tahini BBQ lamb chops with fresh plums and spiced plum sauce
Barbecue no longer automatically means burgers and ribs as Sarit Packer and Itamar Srulovich of Honey & Co's new book Chasing Smoke amply demonstrates. This is a gorgeous way of grilling and serving lamb chops
"If you can, buy nicely trimmed lamb racks without too much of a fat cap, so that you don’t need to worry about rendering fat off them before dividing into individual chops" they advise. "Be forewarned, though: there will be a fair amount of smoke while cooking these, so they are best grilled outside. We use tahini in a few different versions of BBQ sauce, as the sesame paste lends itself so well to roasted meats, adding a rich nutty note. Here we include anchovies for a savoury touch and pomegranate molasses for sweetness.
The accompanying plum sauce is like a chutney or Chinese plum sauce, with its sweet, sour and spicy flavours. It partners perfectly with these rich BBQ chops, and also works amazingly with a simple roast chicken or duck. The BBQ and plum sauces can either be made shortly before grilling the chops, or up to a couple of days in advance.
A feast for 4–6
2 racks of lamb, divided into 12–14 single chops
100 g / 31⁄2 oz baby red chard (or lamb’s lettuce
4 plums, halved and stones removed)
For the tahini BBQ sauce
150 g / 5 1⁄4 oz tahini paste
1 clove of garlic, peeled and minced
2 salted anchovies, chopped
1 tsp pul biber or Aleppo chilli flakes
2 tbsp pomegranate molasses
100 ml / 3 1⁄2 fl oz water, plus more if needed
1 tsp flaky sea salt
For the spiced plum sauce
50 g / 1 3⁄4 oz sugar
1 clove of garlic
1 whole dried chilli, cracked in half and seeds shaken out
1 tsp Szechuan pepper
3 tbsp pomegranate molasses
1⁄2 tsp flaky sea salt
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
Use a stick blender or a small food processor to blitz the BBQ sauce ingredients to a smooth, thick paste. You may need to add a little more water to reach the desired custard- like consistency, depending on the variety of tahini. You can use the BBQ sauce straight away or keep it in the fridge for a day or two until needed.
Put the plum wedges, sugar, garlic, spices, bay leaf and pomegranate molasses in a small frying pan, place over a high heat and bring to the boil. Cook for 5 minutes until the plums soften and start falling apart, then remove from the heat and stir in the salt and vinegar. You can use this straight away, or cool and store in the fridge for a few days.
When you are ready to cook, brush half of the BBQ sauce over the chops, coating both sides. You will need the rest of the BBQ sauce to brush on the chops as they grill. Place the chops one by one on the rack above a hot BBQ. Grill for 2 minutes, then turn them over and brush with some more sauce. Grill for another 2 minutes before turning them back over and basting again. Repeat the grill-turn-baste process until the chops have cooked for a total of 6 minutes on each side. Remove to a serving platter with the baby chard spread over it.
Pop the plum halves on the BBQ, cut-side down. Grill for a minute or so just to warm a little, then add to the platter with the chops. Serve with the plum sauce on the side.
To cook without a BBQ
Use a lightly oiled, preheated griddle pan on your stove and cook just as you would on the fire. But have your extractor fan on full blast, as it will get very smoky!
What to drink: A robust modern red with a touch of sweetness. A Spanish garnacha would fit the bill. FB
From Chasing Smoke: Cooking over Fire around the Levant. Sarit Packer and Itamar Srulovich published by Pavilion at £26. Photograph ©Patricia Niven.
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