Wednesday 8 September 2010

Confessions: Argentinean lamb chops with mint chimichurri

Confession # 1: I have to say, I'm not the biggest fan of Gordon Ramsay.

Don't get me wrong, he's a good looking man, got that bad-boy appeal down pat and is a really talented chef but...he's just a bit mean

However, being the Food-TV addict that I am, my prejudice against Gordo didn't stop me from watching The F Word the other week.  And I'm glad I did.

That episode in particular was a race to see who was to get into the semi final.  A battle between Lasan, a modern Indian restaurant in Birmingham and the Argentinean restaurant Santa Maria del Sur. 

Lasan served flashy, innovative, haute Indian cuisine albeit from a rather dysfunctional team headed by a slightly abrasive chef.

Santa Maria del Sur was all warm fuzzies - a close knit kitchen team serving hearty, delicious authentic Argentinean barbeque.

Confession #2: I would be a horrendous vegetarian.  I just love meat too much.  Steaks and chops and roasts...oh my!  I like my steaks pretty much bloody and mooing.  Beef tataki styles.  Puts hairs on your chest I'm told. 

So when I watched the Santa Maria chef lug hunks of beautiful marinated Argentinean steaks on to a flame grill - I knew I had to find and try that recipe pronto.

We are really lucky to have such beautiful lamb in New Zealand.  It is a little on the expensive side, but not too exorbinant to buy the supermarket.

Santa Maria used lamb loin but I went with lamb shoulder chops.  I know, I know, shoulder chops are usually for slow cooking but they were the cheapest chops and when fried for around 2 minutes a side are perfectly pink and tender and succulent.

Santa Maria's recipe calls for truckloads of mint in their mint chutney.  Since it's winter at the mo, mint is really expensive so I just substituted coriander.

Confession #3: I suck at sticking to recipes.  I always add a little bit of this and a little bit of that and always always double the amount of garlic.  I had all the best intention to follow the mint chutney recipe, but then added loads of coriander, tasted, and added some more bits and pieces to it and ended up just using my go to chimichurri recipe to balance out the flavours.

I have no idea how authentic my recipe for chimichurri is but it is pretty delish.  Intense and punchy, tart but slightly sweet and bursting with fresh herbs and spices, it's absolutely scrumptious on the chops and also yummy as stirred through some orzo or any other type of pasta. 

This is the perfect meal for summer, slap your chops on the barbie, serve with a crisp green salad and  an ice cold corona with a wedge of lemon.

These lamb chops are extra delicious when eaten with your hands - especially if you make sure to get the sauce and chimichurri all over your face as well.

Coriander & cumin lamb chops with mint chimichurri

Serves 4 or 2 very greedy people

400 g lamb shoulder chops

For the spice rub:
1 Tbsp smoked paprika
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
2 tsp coriander seeds
4 garlic cloves, crushed
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/4 black peppercorns
100 ml olive oil

For the mint chimichurri:
Handful of mint leaves (~ 1/2 cup)
Handful of coriander leaves (~1/2 cup)
3 garlic cloves crushed

2 Tbsp rice wine vinegar or red wine vinegar
2-3 Tbsp runny honey
1 tsp sea salt (or 1/2 tsp normal salt)
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/4 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp sweet paprika
1 tsp Tabasco sauce or a small chilli de-seeded and chopped finely
1/2 cup olive oil

1 cup orzo/rissoni/or other pasta

1. Using a mortar and pestle grind up the coriander seeds, cumin seeds, paprika, garlic, salt and pepper.  Add olive oil and mix to form a deep red paste.

2.  Rub all over the lamb chops and place chops in in a ziplock bag with all the air squished out.  Marinate in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.

3. To make the mint chimichurri: blitz all the ingredients except for the oil, vinegar and honey until very finely chopped.  Mix in the olive oil, vinegar and honey.  Taste and adjust seasoning if required.

4. Heat a little oil in a heavy based pan/skillet or the bbq.  Cook lamb for 2-3 minutes a side (depending on how you like it, I like my lamb rare to medium rare). Rest covered in foil for around 5 minutes.

5.  While the lamb is resting, cook orzo or pasta to the packet instructions.  Drain and mix through a couple of tablespoons of the mint chimichurri.

6.  Serve lamb chops over the orzo and drizzle mint chimichurri generously over the chops.


  1. OOoooooh This looks so yum. I have some lamb in the fridge and i think this is for dinner tonight. I absolutely adore chimmichurri sauce. Lovely!

  2. Mmmm, sounds so good! I am going to buy lamb chops this weekend and try this!

  3. Joudie: I reckon the Argentineans totally have a good thing going with that sauce ay, just goes so beautifully with bbq/grilled meat. Can't wait to actually go to Argentina and try authentic stuff! Have you been?

    Meredith: Heya! Thanks for stopping by. I think this is my new fav way of having lamb chops!



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