Now I know that when you think of fall you don’t automatically think about grilling, right? But I’m here to tell you that fall is a wonderful time to grill. I don’t grill steaks and corn at this time of year, though that is always good. No, my grilling in the fall is more, well, fall-like, with fall inspired meats and recipes. The other night I made a perfect fall grilling menu that I’d like to share with my wonderful readers. It was simple and delicious highlighted by Mediterranean lamb loin chops, amazing asparagus risotto (made in the kitchen, not on the grill), and delicious grilled tomatoes (we still have plenty in our garden!). It was a memorable meal and I couldn’t wait to blog about it with all of you!
The first thing I did was marinate the lamb chops. I started with two bone in lamb loin chops. They are thick, meaty chops that respond quite well to grilling. I used 1/2 cup of extra virgin olive oil, 2 tablespoons of minced garlic, salt and pepper to taste, and 2 tablespoons of herbs de province (this is an herb combo consisting of thyme, basil, rosemary, parsley, marjoram, lavender, tarragon and fennel seed). I let it marinate for about an hour in the fridge and then took the bag out of the fridge about 20 minutes before grilling to let the meat return to room temperature and the olive oil to turn back to liquid.
So maybe you’ve heard that risotto is a really difficult thing to make? Well, let me tell you it’s definitely not, and I have figured out some cheats to make it even easier! Risotto is comprised of Arborio rice which is an Italian rice. What makes it so delicious is the fact that it’s really starchy, the secret to risotto is cooking it for a longish time and stirring it constantly to allow the starch to release. There is no cream in risotto, the creaminess is just chicken broth and stirring.
The first step in making risotto is to heat 7-8 cups of chicken broth in a pan on the stove. That is in addition to the risotto pan and I’m not into washing so many extra pans so that leads me to my first cheat. Instead of getting another pan out and heating the chicken broth, I measure out the broth and put the measuring cup in the microwave for two minutes on high. I keep it in the microwave until I’m ready to use it and then I get it out and ladle it into the risotto one ladle at a time. When I get to the bottom of the liquid in the measuring cup I add two more cups of chicken broth, put it back in the microwave and so on until I’ve added all the broth. The next thing you do is chop up a bundle of asparagus and put it aside until later. Then, take one large chopped onion, add it to a teaspoon of extra virgin olive oil in the risotto pan and sauté until soft.
The next step is to add two cups of Arborio rice (the rice used to make risotto) to the risotto pan and sauté it for about a minute until it gets SLIGHTLY browned. I start by adding a cup of good dry white wine to the rice. Stir until it is absorbed. This is the point at which you start adding the chicken broth. As I said I use a ladle and add it to the rice one ladle at a time. Then, you stir stir stir! The good thing about that is you get a really great arm workout when making risotto! When the ladle of chicken broth is mostly absorbed into the rice, that’s the time to add another ladle of chicken broth. And that’s really about it, you just keep adding chicken broth and stirring until all the chicken broth is absorbed into the rice. I admit, it takes about 30 minutes for this to happen so it’s not an incredibly quick recipe but it is definitely worth the time it takes!
Here’s my next cheat: usually you would steam asparagus, again in a separate cooking vessel (another pan- yuck!), until it’s mostly cooked and add it to the rice at the end of the rice’s cooking time. However, I don’t do any of that, instead I just keep the asparagus raw and then I throw it into the risotto pan about 15 minutes before the rice is done and it ends up perfectly cooked; not too raw, not too mushy.
At this point I heat the grill to medium heat and quickly sear the lamb chops on each side for about a minute. Then, I grill them about 6 minutes per side and check them at that point. I’m looking for medium rare on the chops. When the chops have about a minute left I put some tomato slices with a little olive oil, salt and pepper on the grill. I also cut a lemon in half, add a little olive oil to the top of it and put it on the grill at the same time as the tomatoes.
The very last thing to do is to add a tablespoon of butter and shave 1/4 cup of parmesan cheese into the risotto. Now this is not the time to use the Kraft parmesan cheese in a can. Only freshly grated parmesan will do and it’s not difficult at all, just hold the grater and the cheese over the risotto and go to town until you’re done!
You may be wondering what to do with the grilled lemon; I squeeze it over the lamb before serving. Grilling the lemon gives it a mellow quality that just adds to the flavor of the lamb perfectly. This meal made me so happy, it was warm and comforting, just what you need for fall, but the tomatoes and lemon still make it light and citrusy. So that’s my perfect fall meal with a Valerie twist to it. Let me know what your favorite fall meal is. I hope you try this meal, it will help you live a life of vitality- like Valerie!