As I have said before, I don’t really follow recipes for anything except baking. I will read through a recipe for ideas and then go off in my own direction. So, I apologize that I won’t be able to provide exact measurements or cooking times for these items, but I know most of you will have your go-to marinades and grilling preferences and be ready to go.
Recently I made lamb chops and asparagus on the grill because, well, it is spring and the asparagus is growing and it is lambing time. Whenever I’m grilling, because I love them so much, I always cook an onion too. Before cooking, I marinate the asparagus in olive oil, salt, freshly cracked black pepper, some garlic powder, and a splash of lemon juice in a storage bag. They don’t need long, a few hours at most. Asparagus is easy like that. In another bag I loaded my chops along with some fresh chives and thyme, chopped garlic, olive oil, salt and pepper, and a bit of dried parsley (because the garden is coming along a little too slowly and it hadn’t grown yet). I tend to let meat marinate for a long time, hoping for the flavors to penetrate it deeply for maximum flavor. I probably let these hang out in the refrigerator overnight.
The next day, I fired up the grill using natural chunk charcoal. We use it because the ashes are an excellent addition to the soil in the garden and I am determined not to add any chemicals I don’t need to the beds. Plus, I just like the idea that I am cooking over something a bit more natural than those pressed ones that have who knows what in them. Once it was nice and hot, I slapped the chops on the grill. I also add my onion, top it with a pat of butter and a sprinkle of salt.
I’m not even going to guess how long to cook these babies on each side, but I will tell you that after searing a bit, I turned them a bit to get a nice-looking grill pattern. Looks like I went about 90 degrees here, but usually just a quarter turn is all I do for things like steaks. Since they are so thick, when they are done cooking on each side, I flip them up on their bones to make sure the meat around them is nice and hot, too. I rely on a digital thermometer to tell me when my meat is done, and for medium-rare to medium, you want to shoot for between 145 and 160 degrees Fahrenheit for lamb. If you want them well done, aim for 170, but why? Dry out your meat if you want to, I suppose. It’s your house.
After removing the chops, I cover them with foil and bring them inside to rest while I cook the asparagus. Another reason asparagus is awesome, aside from the delicious flavor, is that it cooks very quickly. The Romans, when referring to doing something quickly, said it is “faster than cooking asparagus”. Depending on how well done you want it, it really only takes a few minutes. I like mine a bit crunchy, so it comes off the coals after I roll it around a few times.
When the asparagus comes off the grill, I wrap it in foil just to keep it warm. Remember, it will keep cooking in the foil, so keep that in mind if you are delaying serving dinner right away. The onion… well. As with the asparagus, I like it to have some tooth to it so I cook it until it has softened a bit on the outside, but the inside is still a bit crunchy. This makes for a mix of mellow, sweet onion flavor with a little bite, and a mix of textures, too.
I probably spent 24 hours preparing this meal (mostly sleeping and messing around in the yard with the dogs), but really only about 30-45 minutes cooking it, not counting lighting the coals. Spring is the best time to eat asparagus because it is in season and readily available at your nearest grocery store. I do have it in my garden, but the crowns are young yet and don’t produce as much as I’ve cooked here. Out of season asparagus just doesn’t taste the same to me, and tends to be skinny little spears that don’t stand up well to cooking.
Have fun when you cook, take risks. Make it a family activity, too. Talk to one another. Food brings us all closer together.