Crab Aioli Appetizer, Lamb Loin Chop Entrée

I wanted to cook some lamb loin chops tonight, and had some crab left over from the other day, so decided to do a crab dip appetizer for the lamb.

Oddly, there was no stove used in this meal. The lamb was marinated and done on the grill, and the crab was already cooked.

Being a Floridian, I’ve tried a few fish and crab dip recipes, and the cream cheese ones are pretty good, but I’ve also tried a few mayonnaise-based dips that are excellent. That led me to play around with fish and crab dips over the last couple years, and my final experimental favorite is just a simple aioli with fish or crab meat added at the end.

Garlic, mustard, and egg yolk as the base, with kosher salt and a bit of Old Bay for spice, all tossed into a small food processor

Some people dribble olive oil in by hand, but my processor won’t work without all the safety interlocks, and really, that’s why they put the little holes in the lid in the first place. I don’t whip cream with a whisk unless my mixer is broken, and I don’t mind using the little oil holes, as long as my emulsion doesn’t break.

The aioli will come out to a basic mayo-like consistency when enough oil is added. I just keep it slow, and keep pulsing. When it looks good, I add the crabmeat

Just a couple more quick pulses to incorporate and break up the meat a bit. Too much pulsing, and it’s crab puree, which is not as good as getting those big chunks of meat. Really, I should have had two or three times the crab meat, but it was leftovers, and hey, the tradeoff is having more aioli on my cracker? Not a negative. Sprinkle with Old Bay at the end.

Lamb. It’s kinda gamey, a little juicy, very meaty. I never understood those who would take such a wonderful specimen of flavor and wrestle down the natural taste of lamb with overpowering spices like mint or rosemary. My favorite way to eat lamb loin chops is a simple marinade, tossed on the grill, then plated as-is. Even for a culinary francophile like me, no sauce is necessary, the lamb itself does just fine.

Marinade. Dijon, minced garlic, onion powder, kosher salt, ground pepper, olive oil

A little hot sauce for zing

Beer for its graininess, and I think the carbonation helps the marinade penetrate

Usually, I’d throw in the juice of a lemon for some acid, but I was out of lemons. I could have used some wine vinegar but…I forgot (oops). No huge deal, it was good. Marinade for at least a couple hours, but overnight wouldn’t hurt.

Grill on high with the lid closed to get some sear on one side, then flip and turn the heat down to get some doneness in the center. I like my lamb medium to medium-rare, Christey prefers hers one to two steps more done. Either way, it’s just honest meat with nothing to cover up the natural taste.

Comments

  1. WOW, nice grill marks on the lamb. I love your step-by-step photos. Wish I had another set of hands to do the same on my blog.

  2. Michelle says:

    These chops look fantastic. Your food styling is great too! :-)

  3. blackramfarm says:

    I am always looking for a good lamb dish. This one looks great. You comment on the flavor of lamb being gamey, however American lamb is much milder then imported Aussie, African or New Zealand. Also the breed of the sheep makes a huge difference on the taste as well as the way the sheep are raised, grain fed or grass only. Luckily more and more shepherds are selling fresh lamb at farmers markets all over the country so folks can have a good choice for local product.

    Nice post.
    Alexandra

  4. petermarcus says:

    Marc: Yes, it helps to have a pro shooting over your shoulder when your hands are full!

    Michelle: Thank you!

    blackramfarm: I don’t think lamb itself is gamey in the sense of, say, possum or squirrel, or even a good wild boar. But, there are a lot of restaurant patrons who expect any red meat to be as bland as prime rib, and cover up the wonderful flavor of lamb with mint jellies or some other overpowering taste. I like my lamb to taste like…lamb — that almost wild, almost woolly, meaty flavor. I’ve had Australian and Argentinian lamb, and like those as well. I’d love to find some local, but the Florida heat does a number on livestock, and for all our wonderful seafood, the meat of local furry livestock isn’t nearly as good as many other places.

  5. Alison says:

    This lamb looks simply fabulous! I too like my lamb to taste like LAMB and I would love to try this, but there isn’t an actual recipe anywhere. Can you help me out? Thanks!

  6. petermarcus says:

    There’s not much of a recipe, it’s sort of a technique. I made a marinade by using about 1/2 cup olive oil, a bottle of beer, a few squirts of hot sauce, a minced clove of garlic, a tablespoon of dijon mustard. Along with maybe 1/2 tablespoon of Kosher salt, and a couple teaspoons of fresh coarse black pepper.

    Marinade the lamb chops for an hour or two up to overnight.

    Then, I cooked on the grill. I have a propane grill so I turned it high, closed the lid until it got really hot, then threw on the chops. I seared one side, probably about 5-6 minutes, then turned the heat down to medium, flipped the chops, then closed the lid until they were at the right doneness — maybe another 5-6 minutes for medium. Medium is pretty tasty for lamb — still pretty pink and juicy in the middle, but not gelatinous red. Let the chops sit for 3-4 minutes before serving, and the juiciness goes up.

    I’ve done the same with the broiler in the oven, though you won’t get grill marks or quite the same grilled taste ;) But, sear close to the heat on a high broil until nicely seared, then turn the oven down to 400 or so, flip the chops and bake until medium or so.