It's summer, and I have lamb on the mind

You're in for a real treat with lamb! When cooked properly, it is a soft and delicious meat.

baby Lamb chops 311 (photo credit: courtesy)
baby Lamb chops 311
(photo credit: courtesy)

It may not be so summery (although the first recipe is for the grill,) but I have lamb on my mind. It is a particularly soft and delicious meat when cooked properly. If the only lamb you’ve ever had is from a roadside shwarma stand (I’m not knocking those; they can be great!), then you’re in for a real treat.

Grilled Lamb Kebobs with Roasted Garlic

For the marinade:

1 cup olive oil

1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/3 cup fresh oregano leaves, chopped
2 teaspoons finely chopped garlic
1/2 teaspoon grated lemon zest

For the lamb skewers:

1 1/2 pounds (trimmed weight) boneless lamb loin, boned, fat and membranes removed

1/2 cup Roasted Garlic Paste; recipe follows
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 metal or wooden skewers, soaked in water 30 to 60 minutes
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
 In a small skillet, heat the olive oil and chili flakes over low heat for 1 minute. Turn off the heat and add the oregano, garlic and lemon zest. Pour mixture out of the pan and into a bowl. Allow to cool.

Slice lamb loin lengthwise (as if filleting) into 2 pieces about 1/2-inch thick, or have the butcher do this. Using a mallet or the heel of your palm, lightly pound meat to about 1/4-inch thickness then cut each piece into two inch wide strips.

Place meat in a non-metallic dish and pour oregano marinade over the meat. Turn several times to coat, cover, and refrigerate at least 1 hour or overnight.

When ready to cook, prepare grill or preheat broiler.

Remove lamb from marinade and discard marinade. Spread about 1 tablespoon garlic paste on each of the lamb pieces. Season with salt and pepper. Roll meat lengthwise end to end and place on skewers. Put two pieces on each skewer. It should be rolled up like a pinwheel with the garlic inside.

Brush with olive oil. Grill or broil to desired doneness, 10 to 15 minutes for medium-rare meat, depending on heat of grill. Turn meat occasionally to ensure even cooking.

Roasted Garlic Paste:

1 pound whole garlic heads
1/2 cup pure olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Peel the outermost layers of skin off the heads of garlic. Cut off the top 1/3 of the heads to open the cloves. Put the heads, cut sides up, in a small baking dish and pour the olive oil over them. Season with salt and pepper.

Cover tightly, place in the oven, and roast until about 3/4 cooked, about 45 minutes. Uncover and return to the oven until the cloves begin to pop out of their skins and brown, about 15 minutes. Let cool.

When garlic is cool enough to handle easily, squeeze the roasted garlic into a small bowl. Press against the skins very well to get out all the sweet roasted garlic you can. Add the oil from the baking dish and mix well until a paste forms. Store, tightly covered, in the refrigerator, for up to 1 week.

Asian Lamb Chops

15 (3-ounce) lamb chops
2 teaspoons minced garlic
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons lime juice
2 tablespoons soy sauce
¼ cup olive oil
1/3 cup chopped cilantro

Place the lamb chops in a roasting pan and season with garlic and sugar. Whisk together lime juice, soy sauce and olive oil and izzle over chops. Cover and marinate overnight in the refrigerator. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Roast, uncovered, for 20 to 30 minutes.  (I do 30 minutes because I like meat, especially lamb, well done). They can also be grilled if you are in a barbecue mood. Garnish with cilantro.

Moroccan Lamb Shoulder Roast

1 (4 to 5 pound) lamb shoulder roast

2 teaspoons minced garlic

2 teaspoons cumin
1 teaspoon pepper
1 (29 ounce) can diced tomatoes
1 onion, chopped
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Place lamb in pan and season with garlic, cumin (you can add a little more if you are a cumin fan like me) and pepper. Roast, uncovered, for ½ hour.  Remove from oven and pour diced tomatoes and onion over meat.  Cover with heavy duty foil and return to oven.  Cook for about 3 more hours.