Tender lamb rib chops are rubbed with fresh herbs and paired with tart-sweet cherry port sauce in this quick date night dinner! Fresh cherries are out in abundance, so fire up the grill because this a great recipe for your Saturday night.
Like my last lamb chop recipe, Lamb Chops With Fresh Fig Sauce, this recipe is quick to make! (with some marinating time) Lamb rib chops may be expensive enough to be date night or special occasion food, but they make up for it by being fast, tender, and flavorful.
Recently I was in the supermarket seeing if they had any fresh figs for sale, since I was in the mood for grilled lamb chops, but instead they had piles of fresh cherries. And I thought, why not? I’ll make a cherry sauce for the lamb instead!
So I rubbed the chops with fresh herbs and let them rest. Then, when they were ready I fired up the grill outside and started the sauce inside. Thirty minutes later we were sitting down to dinner with a nice bottle of wine, some sauteed veggies, and I think I went with a crusty bread that first time.
Though we don’t often have lamb rib chops (or rack of lamb if they are kept in one roast instead of being cut up), since they are pricey, lamb is a perennial favorite here in the BitofBacon HQ. I make slow roasted leg of lamb and grilled butterflied leg of lamb and – my daughter’s favorite – lamb and artichoke stew pretty frequently.
I remember, back when my husband still lived in the Berkshires and we traveled across the state to visit each other, buying beautiful racks of lamb all marinated up and ready to cook at Guido’s Fresh Marketplace. Back then (and maybe still!) that was the place to get fancy ingredients, unusual vegetables, and imported items. It’s been a while since I’ve been in, what with living on the other side of the state and all, but I still have fond memories of picking up food for date night dinners.
These days thankfully people are more in tune with ingredients and the variety of produce has greatly improved in all markets. I see more local ingredients, like fresh cheeses and meats, and more interesting imported items on store shelves. We are long past the days when grated parmesan cheese in a can was the best you could hope for on your pasta.
Yes, I grew up with that! It was years before I had fresh parmesan cheese or knew that bell peppers came in other colors than green. 🙂
But today I have all sorts of fresh foods and a lovely herb garden too. I may have a black thumb for most veggies, but at least I can grow thyme and rosemary and oregano. Actually, with thyme and oregano it’s more keeping them from taking over since they will spread and root themselves everywhere! Those are my kinds of plants.
Once you have your fresh herbs and lamb chops, it’s time to pull out the port and the fresh cherries. The sauce only takes a few minutes to make and then you can let it sit while you finish up the lamb. Just stop before you add the butter, then rewarm it and swirl in the butter to thicken it. You don’t want to reheat a butter thickened sauce.
Unless you like pools of butter on top of the sauce? I don’t think you do, so wait until the end.
A side, like some sauteed green beans, and a starch, like maybe my cream cheese mashed potatoes, are what you need to finish off the meal. Oh, and some wine. It is date night after all! I love a Shiraz or a Red Zinfandel with lamb.
– Happy Grilling, Annemarie
Grilled Lamb Rib Chops with a Fresh Cherry Port Sauce
Marinated Lamb Chops
- 8 lamb rib chops, or loin chops
- 2 tbsp fresh chopped thyme
- 1 tbsp fresh chopped sage
- 1 tbsp fresh chopped rosemary
- 1 tbsp fresh chopped basil
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- 2 tbsp olive oil
Cherry Port Sauce
- 2 1/2 tbsp unsalted butter, divided
- 2 shallots, thinly sliced
- 2 cloves garlic, smashed
- 4 sprigs fresh thyme, plus 1 tbsp of thyme leaves
- pinch kosher salt
- 1/2 cup ruby port
- 1/2 cup chicken stock
- 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
- 10 fresh cherries, pitted and sliced in half
Marinated Lamb Chops
- Lay out your lamb chops and trim any excess fat. Then mix together all the herbs, garlic, salt, and olive oil. Rub them over the lamb. Let the lamb marinate in the refrigerator for at least 8 hours, up to 1 day.
- Take the lamb out about 30 minutes before you are going cook it. Preheat the grill to high. Grill the lamb on high with the cover open about 4 minutes per side for medium rare. Check the lamb with your meat thermometer. Medium rare is 120-125F. Medium is 130-135. Let the lamb rest for 5 minutes.
Cherry Port Sauce
- After you take the lamb out of the refrigerator, being making the sauce. Heat 1/2 tbsp of the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Once it melts and foams up, add the shallots, garlic, thyme sprigs, and a pinch or two of kosher salt. Saute for 2 minutes, or until the shallots are soft.
- Add the port, stock, and vinegar. Bring to a boil over high heat. Keep the sauce at a rolling boil for 5-6 minutes, until the liquid is reduced by half. Strain out the solids and return the sauce to the pan. You can stop here until the lamb is cooked.
- Bring the sauce back to a boil. Add the cherries and boil 1 minute. Take the sauce off the heat and let cool a few moments. Cut up the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter into 8 pieces. Add each piece, one at a time, and swirl it around until it melts. Once all the butter has been added, stir in the thyme leaves and serve with the lamb.
- If you prefer medium lamb, cook the lamb for another minute or two. That should bring it up to 130+. I prefer medium, while my husband prefers medium rare. I take his chops off at 8 minutes and give mine another 2 minutes.
- Mashed sweet potatoes or cream cheese mashed potatoes make a great accompaniment to the lamb.
- I have also made this dish with dried cherries. Plump them up in the port for about 30 minutes before you begin. Continue with the recipe as written.
- Everyone's grill is different. I have a fairly hot gas grill. On my grill 4 minutes even on each side is just right for medium rare.