"Onion Water" Lamb Chops


From The Barbecue! Bible, by Steven Raichlen.

Serves 4

Method: Direct grilling
Advance Preparation: 2 hours for marinating the meat

The Afghan name of this dish – o be peyaz – means, literally, "onion water." The lamb chops are marinated in an intensely flavored mixture of onion juice, saffron, turmeric, and chiles. Most Afghan meats are marinated for several days prior to cooking, but these chops can be grilled after a couple of hours. The recipe was inspired by the Khyber Pass restaurant in New York City. The onion juice has a tenderizing and aromatizing effect on the lamb, and it's used throughout the Islamic world. Serve with pita bread, Quick­Cook Basmati Rice, and Persian Yogurt Drink.

8 loin lamb chops (each 4 to 5 ounces and 1­1/2 inch thick)
1/4 teaspoon saffron threads
1 tablespoon warm water
1­1/2 pounds onions, peeled and quartered
1 to 3 serranos or other hot chiles, minced
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1. Trim most of the excess fat off the lamb chops.

2. Place the saffron in a small bowl and grind it to a fine powder with a pestle or the end of a wooden spoon. Add the warm water, stir, and let stand for 5 minutes.

3. Place the onions in a food processor and process, in batches if necessary, until the onions are pureed and quite watery. Transfer the contents of the workbowl to a fine­meshed strainer and set over a large, deep nonreactive bowl and drain, pressing the solids with the back of a rubber spatula or wooden spoon to extract the juice; you should have about 2 cups. Discard the contents of the strainer.

4. Add the chile, turmeric, salt, pepper, and the dissolved saffron to the onion juice. Whisk until the salt is dissolved. Add the lamb chops and turn to coat thoroughly. Cover and let marinate, in the refrigerator, for 2 hours, turning several times.

5. Preheat the grill to high.

6. When ready to cook, remove the chops from the marinade and blot dry with paper towels. Oil the grill grate, then arrange the chops on the hot grate and grill, turning with tongs, until cooked to taste, about 6 minutes per side for medium.

7. Transfer the chops to serving plates or a platter and serve immediately.


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