IT may come as no surprise when John Torode says the kitchen is the heart of his home – a place of noise, laughter and delicious food. Between them, John and his wife Lisa Faulkner have five kids, and they love it when everyone is home, around the table eating, chatting and catching up.
According to John, new season lamb is the perfect ingredient to keep everyone happy without compromising on taste or quality.
Seasonality is everything for the Aussie TV chef who says lamb was the meat his family ate most growing up. Versatile, easy to cook and perfect either cooked simply or succulent with spices, lamb is rich in protein, naturally low in sodium and full of essential vitamins.
Scotch Lamb PGI takes its quality and characteristics from a life grazing in the Scottish Countryside and is famously sweet and tender with delicate flavours.
“When you’re cooking for a family you want it to be simple and easy,” says John
“You get all the work done, everything ready in the fridge, then simply get out the chops that have been marinating all afternoon when you’re ready to cook.”
John also suggests getting kids involved by making accompanying side dishes: “If one likes a dip, get them to make it, another can chop tomatoes for a salsa or help make some Bombay potatoes. Get them interested and have that conversation going as well.
John’s delicious lamb chops
- 8 Lamb Chops or 4 thick Lamb Steaks
- 2 lemons
- 1 tbsp salt
- Thyme leaves
- 250ml yoghurt
- 2 deseeded red chillies
- 2 garlic cloves
- Pinch of salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1 tbsp of cinnamon
- ½ tbsp cardamom, cloves and turmeric
- Chopped coriander
You first need to tenderize the lamb by rubbing it with a mixture of the juice of lemons, salt, and thyme leaves. Leave for a few hours in the fridge.
Put the yoghurt and chillies with the other spices and coriander in a food processor to make a paste (alternatively you could flavour the yoghurt by first briefly dry roasting some ground cumin or garam masala in a pan to release their aroma before stirring into the yogurt).
Rub half the marinade into the lamb all over then leave overnight covered in the fridge.
Using a griddle pan or a fry pan, heat it well over a high heat and when hot place the lamb chops or steaks into the pan and cook for 5 minutes, turn and top with the rest of the marinade.
Cook for a further 5 minutes and turn again. You may need to add a little water into the pan. Turn again and cook for 2 more minutes. Leave to rest for 5 minutes before eating.
Serve it with spicy potato wedges, yoghurt mixed with sliced cucumber, some chopped mint, a pinch of salt and a good squeeze of lemon juice.
“I have a theory I like to call safe and scary – you make something you’ve never made before but have it with something you make all the time.
“Like potatoes mashed with spring onions served with grilled lamb chops or, if you make rice all the time make a cucumber-yoghurt dip as well, or instead of plain lamb chops marinate them with some lemon juice, yoghurt and curry powder or some general spices then let them sit for a couple of hours before grilling very gently and finishing off in the oven.”
Marinating lamb is John’s top chef tip: “When you marinate lamb with lemon juice first and some thyme you are doing two things, the acid breaks it down and makes it more tender and the lemon starts to cure it and cook it anyway, so if you marinate it will probably be well done by the time you cook it.”
Lamb should be either pink or well done and while a griddle pan is great, a frying pan works just as well. Seal chops in a pan first so they have colour on both sides then finish them in the oven.
One of the benefits of the recent lockdown was people spending more time together at home, says John, adding: For me the table is set every night, regardless of whether it’s just me and Lisa or whether the family are here because to us that’s an important time and when everyone sits down and chats.
“I’ve always believed in it as did my father and so does Lisa. In the four years we’ve lived here, there’s probably been dinner on the lap twice.”
The next time you’re at the supermarket or butchers have a look at the lamb shelf and just see what’s there, he suggests.
“A rack of lamb is a great thing to cook with, a shoulder of lamb is brilliant and means leftovers and lamb mince makes the best ever meatballs.
“Try to step outside your comfort zone a little bit,” says John. You’ll love the results.
For more delicious new seasonal lamb recipes go to www.scotchkitchen.com