Confession: I used to think red meat and pork was unhealthy. While at a dinner party a few years ago, someone ordered seared lamb chops. They looked irresistible. He sliced into one and offered a taste. How could I resist? I blame the wine for having the courage to say yes. Like a crack addict, each medium-rare chew was a sensuous flavor of high delight. It was unforgettable.
Many people avoid red meat and pork, because they believe it’s unhealthy. The nutritional stories about it are endless. Nutritionists and dietitians declaring red meat and pork unhealthy, are wisely questioning the source of most meat sold in grocery stores coming from factory farms, in which animals are injected with growth hormones and given antibiotics to prevent illnesses from living in horrid conditions. Based on those factors, having a meat-free diet is healthy. A few years ago, Oprah Winfrey did a show, in which guests openly discussed the unhealthy conditions of factory farms. Afterwards, Winfrey was wildly sued by the cattle industry.Interestedly, questioning the quality of factory farms is a hot topic within the last decade.
After reading The Omnivore’s Dilemma, by Michael Pollan and traveling overseas, where countries have strict policies for maintaining the quality of meat, I was persuaded to eat meat again. When enjoyed conservatively, eating grain feed, humanely raised red meat from small farms is an alternative to the meat industry’s unhealthy choices.
When the apple cider with dried fruit couscous was made, it seemed to dry, for a light, meat flavored sauce was needed. Seafood is too delicate. Chicken thighs is a normal option, but I wanted to experiment with a bolder flavor. A friend suggested lamb chops. I never forgot that taste of seared lamb chops from that dinner party a few years ago. I set off to find a butcher selling grain-feed and antibiotic-free meat without growth hormones.
A butcher kindly instructed me on cooking lamb chops, for the technique is similar to seared tuna. Before searing them, they were marinaded in apple cider, olive oil, mint and spices. When placed in a hot skillet, a crust caramelized into a crispy, robust flavor. The aroma was an instant high of savory thoughts. I would learn my personal taste for lamb chops is medium-rare. The lamb chops are small and meant to be savored. The apple cider sauce flavored with lamb creates an aromatic dish exposing the meat lover inside me.
It turns out my boyfriend still refuses to eat lamb chops, for his reason is more humanitarian. His decision is respected, because I wonder if an animal was slaughtered in front of me, would I still eat its flesh. A while ago, I was reading an article on how the new food movement has many former vegans becoming outright, full-fledged carnivores. On my twitter timeline, I’m reading people’s stories about curing their own meat. The New York Times published an article, The Lost Art of Buying from a Butcher. People are rediscovering heirloom meat at farmer’s markets to avoid factory farm meat. I wonder if my personal taste will crave beef burgers, pork bacon and steaks in the near future. Lamb chops could be the beginning. I’m still pondering…
Are you a former vegan turned carnivore? What’s your reason?
Lamb Chops with Apple Cider Sauce over Couscous with Dried Fruit
Seared Lamb Chops with Reduce Apple Cider Sauce
2-1/8 cup apple cider
1/4 cup chopped fresh mint; more for garnish
The juice and zest of one and a half lemon
2 garlic cloves; minced
Sea salt and fresh black pepper; to taste
Crushed red pepper; to taste
1/8-cup olive oil; more as needed for cooking
1 lb. of Lamb Chops; cleaned and patted dry with paper towels
1 shallot; thinly sliced
2 tbsp. butter
Couscous with Dried Fruit (recipe follows)
1. Whisk the 1/8-cup apple cider, 1/8-cup fresh mint, the juice of one lemon, garlic, sea salt, black pepper, crushed red pepper; and olive oil together. Rub into the lamb chops and let sit for at least 20 minutes to one hour. Set aside.
2. Heat 2 tbsp. olive oil and 1 tbsp. butter in a skillet over medium-high heat. When the skillet is hot, add lamb chops. Cook each side for 4 minutes. Remove lamb chops to a paper towel lined plate to rest for a few minutes.
3. Discard all but one tablespoon of oil in the skillet. Add shallots, lemon zest and the juice of half a lemon to the skillet. Unless your skillet is catching on fire, don’t worry about the burnt meat pieces at the bottom. When the shallots are translucent, add 2 cups of apple cider, 1 tablespoon butter, sea salt and fresh black pepper. Deglaze the skillet by bring the juice to a simmer, then scrape the burnt pieces at the bottom of the skillet. After a few minutes, the juice will reduce to half the original amount. Add 1/8-cup of fresh mint and turn off the heat. Set aside.
4. To Plate: Place Couscous with Dried fruit on a plate. Cover with one or two lamb chops. Generously spoon Apple Cider Sauce over the plate. Garnish with fresh mint. Enjoy.
Couscous with Dried Fruit
1-1/8 cup apple cider
The juice of one lemon
1 tsp. honey
1/8-cup dried blueberries
1/8-cup dried cranberries
1/8-cup dried cherries
1/8-cup (or 4) dried apricots; thinly sliced
1/4-cup toast almonds
A pinch of sea salt
1/4-cup fresh mint, chopped
1. Bring to a boil apple cider, lemon juice, honey, dried fruit, almonds and salt. Pour couscous into the liquid and turn off the heat. Let sit for at least 15 minutes.
2. Mix in the mint and fluff couscous with a fork. Place aside and keep warm.
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