lamb

Going Coastal Recipe: Blackened Lamb Chops

Blackened Lamb Chops with Black Bean SalsaAmigeauxs is the name I came up with to call Mexican/Creole Fusion Cuisine.  It is also the name of my first cookbook.  Below is one of my favorite recipes from that cookbook, Blackened Lamb Chops with Black Bean Salsa.  For the plating I took a French hoagie roll and sliced it in half then toasted it with Extra Virgin Olive Oil and garlic powder.  I put two chops on top of the bread and some salsa on top of the chops.

Going Coastal Recipe: Blackened Lamb Chops
Recipe Type: Entree
Author: Stuart Reb Donald
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • 4 lamb rib chops, cut 3/4-inch thick
  • Blackening seasoning
  • Clarified butter or olive oil

Black Bean Salsa

  • 1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 15 ounce can tomatoes, diced
  • 1 bunch green onions, including tops, chopped
  • 1 small can or two ears sweet corn kernels
  • 2 Serrano peppers, diced finely
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
  • Hot pepper sauce, salt, and pepper to taste
Instructions
    Black Bean Salsa.

  1. Mix everything together, let sit for at least one hour to overnight in refrigerator for flavors to develop.
    Lamb Chops

  1. Heavily coat each side of the chops with blackening seasoning.
  2. Heat a cast iron skillet to the point of smoking then ladle in 2 tablespoons clarified butter and place chops into the pan.
  3. Cook about one minute on each side.
  4. Place skillet in 350 degree oven for 10 minutes (for medium rare).
  5. Top with Black Bean Salsa

Review: Chef Todd Mohr’s Web Cooking Classes

In my career I’ve reviewed cookbooks, TV shows, countless products and even a movie but this is the first time I’ve had the opportunity to review a service.  Chef Todd Mohr’s Web Cooking Classes are the key to people who want to improve their cooking prowess without investing time and money in culinary school.  Well, think of this as a virtual cooking school.

One of the first things that Chef Todd teaches is independence from recipes.  Very few chefs use them.  Todd draws a great coloration between cooking and music saying, “Recipes don’t work.  What other art form has a strict set of instructions?  Cooking is an art form.  A recipe will not teach you to cook any more than sheet music will teach you to play the piano.”

According to the web site:

If you are using recipes, Food TV, magazines, cook books, or online cooking videos to learn to cook and get dinner done …and if you’re serious about not only learning how to create amazing meals, but in understanding the simple yet powerful basic cooking methods that will enable you to cook everything – then keep reading!

If you are interested in a proven system for learning what you need to know to cook like the professionals, without the expense or time investment of formal education, and having it laid out for you in a step-by-step approach that cuts through all other cooking information you’ve seen, then you’re in the right place because I’m about to spill the beans on the simple Chef Secrets that will enable you to quickly master the most important skills anyone can possess for home cooking.

Todd is a fellow iFood publisher and asked me to take his service for a spin.  Here’s what I found:

The web site itself is minimalist with few bells and whistles and maybe a touch clunky to navigate.  But that stuff is just window dressing.  The value is in the contents.  I’ve been cooking professionally for nearly 25 years and in just a few minutes I learned things I never knew.

There are all manner of learning tools available including several instructional videos that teach you to “burn your recipes” in order to cook instinctively.  That is how chefs cook, instinctively.  I have literally dozens of two inch thick cookbooks yet I almost never cook from them.  On the few occasions that I do open one it isn’t to use a recipe but rather as a resource.  Alton Brown says he cooks pot roast at this temperature for this long but Julia Child recommends this temperature for this long.  Both recommend using chuck roast but I prefer beef cheeks.  What I look for is a guide rather than a rule.  Rules are for squares.

Mohr’s cooking classes teach everyone how to cook like chefs do.  The material on the web site is not the tired old 4 ounces of this and 2 ounces of that but rather they are tools to help you hone the chef that lives within us all.  To paraphrase Kuan Tzu, “Give a man a recipe and he eats for a day.  Teach a man to cook and he eats for a lifetime.”

It is true that you cannot teach instinct, you either have it or you don’t.  You can be the best trombone teacher in the world (and for the record I am at best top 5) but if the student doesn’t have the instinct to play trombone it just will not work.  Since all humans have to eat to survive we are all born with the instincts.  Further more if you prefer one recipe over another for a particular dish then guess what?  You have good instincts.  All you need to do is use them to your advantage.  That’s where Chef Todd Mohr’s Web Cooking Classes come in.

Currently they are offering a free 15 day trial of their services.  With Easter dinner just around the corner the timing is perfect for you take Chef Todd’s classes for a test drive.  Click HERE to give it a whirl.

Here’s Chef Todd laying down a taste of his cooking philosophy, dig it.

ICA: Flay vs. Burke

NewICAHeader ICA: Garces vs. Medina   Outcome

From TV.com:

Theme : Lamb

Chefs : Iron Chef Bobby Flay is pitted against Chef David Burke in Battle Lamb!

Full Recap

Theme : Lamb
Iron Chef Dishes
Green Eggs and Lamb
Lamb and Lobster Skewers
Lamb with Peanut Mole Sauce
Cumin Crusted Rack of Lamb
Spice Rubbed Rack of Lamb
Chef David BurkeChallenger Dishes
Lamb Sashimi
Lamb Minestrone
Angry Lamb and Lobster
Minute Steak Lamb
Pastrami Spiced Rack of Lamb
Judges
Jewel, Dana Cowin and Lara Spencer.
Iron Chef
Taste : 27
Plating : 12
Originality : 12

Total : 51
Challenger
Taste : 19
Plating : 15
Originality : 14

Total : 48
Winner: Iron Chef Bobby Flay

Lamb Shanks with Syrah, Blueberry and Bleu Cheese Reduction

Today while at the market to purchase some beef short ribs for another recipe I noticed that my butcher had lamb shanks at a very good price. I got two mammoth shanks for just $2.50 (American). Whether or not I should buy them was a foregone conclusion. What to do with them was another matter all together.

Having a good bit of Irish blood in me the thought to make a hearty stew was there as was the desire to per chance experiment with Moroccan flavors. I shrugged, tossed the package into the basket, and figured I would pan sear that bridge when I came to it.

Once home, my cooking free-for-all started by satisfying my sister’s request of preparing one of those box meals. I opened all cans and pouches. I added the requisite water and let it simmer. How was it? I don’t know I had beef short ribs and lamb shanks to tend too. I began the long (and definitely worth it) process of the soul food staple braised beef short ribs. Once the braise was ready for several hours of slow love I turned my attention to the lamb.

As I began heating my cast iron skillet I still was not completely sure what I was going to make. The stew was out as the Dutch Oven was busy reducing the short ribs to tender deliciousness. I had all but decided to prepare them much as I would a good cut of T-bone – butter and olive oil in the pan and Montreal Steak Seasoning rubbed into the now room temperature cuts.

Footnote: allowing your proteins (meat) to come to room temperature before cooking will insure a more thorough cooking process and offer a more tender product.

Once the shanks hit the hot pan the house was filled an amazing aroma. I seasoned the other side of the shanks and left them alone to properly caramelize before turning. As I turned the shanks I realized that they were so thick that I may need to finish them in the oven to achieve a rosy medium-rare interior. As I placed the pan into the oven (this is but one benefit of the iron skillet) it occurred to me that a cup or so of the Syrah I had left over from the short ribs recipe might help insure tenderness and add depth of flavor. I had decided that I was going to do a reduction sauce when the shanks were ready so why not?

So far nothing too unconventional right? Except the meat.  Just what are lamb shanks you may be asking. Here is what the web site mealsforyou.com has to say about them:

Lamb shank is cut from the arm of shoulder, contains leg bone and part of round shoulder bone, and is covered by a thin layer of fat and fell (a thin, paper-like covering). Lamb shank is usually prepared by braising or by cooking in liquid.

Ten minutes in a 350 degree oven did the trick. I removed the shanks to a plate and deglazed the pan with a little more Syrah. I don’t know why but I began wondering how good the sauce might be with some blueberries for sweetness and some blue cheese for pungency. If only I had some blueberries. On a whim I checked the freezer and found about half a cup of frozen organic blueberries so I tossed them into the reduction sauce that had just started to simmer. Once the sauce had cooked down for about six minutes I pulled the pan off the heat and finished it with about two tablespoons of butter and a few ounces of bleu cheese crumbles.

Remember: red wine is the best source of the ultra powerful phytoalexin resveratrol which is unsurpassed for fighting the effects of aging and cardiovascular disease.  Resveratrol from wine comes with none of the dangers of those synthetic resveratrol supplements.  The only side effects from wine are a cozy desire to lounge and an inclination towards romanticism.

The resulting meal which had cost less than five bucks was fantastic! It was the kind of entree you would shell out a small fortune for at the French Laundry. Blueberries and bleu cheese are a common pairing to top a steak. I have finished many a fillet with that combination but never cooked into a reduction sauce or with lamb. How French of me.

At Christmas I had the pleasure of accompanying my brother to Ruth’s Chris’ where I dined on New Zealand venison chops with a blackberry reduction. For weeks I raved to friends and family about the dish. With all due respect to Chef George, I call your blackberry venison and raise you Lamb Shanks with Syrah, Blueberry, and Bleu Cheese Reduction.

Ingredients:

Shanks –

  • 2 6-8 ounce lamb shanks
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup medium bodied red wine
  • salt and pepper to taste (I used Montreal Steak Seasoning)

Preheat oven to 350. Heat an iron skillet to medium high. Add the oil and butter and when th butter stops foaming add the seasoned shanks. Cook for about 5 to 7 minutes or until a nice brown crust appears on one side. Turn and allow to cook for about 5 more minutes. Add the wine, then place pan in the oven for 10 minutes for medium rare, 15 for medium. When done remove the shanks to a plate and return pan to burner, returning to medium high heat.

Reduction Sauce –

  • 1 cup medium bodied red wine (Syrah/Shirraz)
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries
  • 4 ounces bleu cheese crumbles

Deglaze the pan with the cup of wine and bring to a simmer. Add the blueberries and allow sauce to reduce by one half. Remove from the heat and add the butter allowing it to melt. Add the bleu cheese then pour over the shanks. Mmm good.  A dish suitable for an Iron Chef.

Now a full stomach and half bottle of wine later my short ribs are done. Back to the kitchen!

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Stuart in 80 Words or Less

Stuart is a celebrity chef, food activist and award-winning food writer. He penned the cookbooks Third Coast Cuisine: Recipes of the Gulf of Mexico, No Sides Needed: 34 Recipes To Simplify Life and Amigeauxs - Mexican/Creole Fusion Cuisine. He hosts two Internet cooking shows "Everyday Gourmet" and "Little Grill Big Flavor." His recipes have been featured in Current, Lagniappe, Southern Tailgater, The Kitchen Hotline and on the Cooking Channel.

Stu’s Latest Kindle Single is Just $2.99

Stuart’s Honors & Awards

2015 1st Place Luck of the Irish Cook-off
2015 4th Place Downtown Cajun Cook-off
2015 2nd Place Fins' Wings & Chili Cook-off
2014 2015 4th Place LA Gumbo Cook-off
2012 Taste Award nominee for best chef (web)
2012 Finalist in the Safeway Next Chef Contest
2011 Taste Award Nominee for Little Grill Big Flavor
2011, 12 Member: Council of Media Tastemakers
2011 Judge: 29th Chef's of the Coast Cook-off
2011 Judge: Dauphin Island Wing Cook-off
2011 Cooking Channel Perfect 3 Recipe Finalist
2011 Judge: Dauphin Island Gumbo Cook-off
2011 Culinary Hall of Fame Member
2010 Tasty Awards Judge
2010 Judge: Bayou La Batre Gumbo Cook-off
2010 Gourmand World Cookbook Award Nominee
2010 Chef2Chef Top 10 Best Food Blogs
2010 Denay's Top 10 Best Food Blogs
2009 2nd Place Bay Area Food Bank Chef Challenge
2008 Tava: Discovery Contest Runner-up

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