Lamb Chops and Mint Chermoula Sauce with Couscous and Apricots

Recipe and photo by Tami Ganeles Weiser Yield:  4 servings
Prep Time:  20 minutes Cook Time:  15 minutes

Lamb Chops and Mint Chermoula Sauce with Couscous and Apricots

Chermoula is a tangy North African spice paste that often accompanies fish; the formula varies by region and by individual cook. This one is made with mint, lemon, spices, and hot Tunisian harissa (chili) paste and it’s a great match-up with these baby lamb chops and apricot-studded couscous. All together, it’s fast, easy and elegant enough for a last-minute special dinner, but it’s just as great for a midweek after-work supper.

Ingredients

Apricot-Studded Couscous:

2½ cups unsalted lamb or chicken stock

1 teaspoon kosher salt

8 saffron threads

1¼ cups instant couscous

½ cup dried apricots, cut into ¼-inch strips

 

Chermoula:

2 medium or 1 large bunch fresh flat-leaf parsley, leaves and stems

Leaves of 1 small bunch fresh mint

4 medium cloves garlic, peeled, any green centers discarded

Juice and zest of 1 lemon

2 teaspoons roasted ground cumin (see Kitchen Tips)

1 teaspoon harissa paste

½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

½ cup olive oil

 

Lamb Chops:

16 baby rib or shoulder lamb chops

1 teaspoon kosher salt

¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, or to taste

Instructions

  1. In a medium saucepan, combine 2½ cups lamb or chicken stock, the salt, and the saffron, cover and bring to a boil over high heat. Add the couscous, stir once, reduce the heat to medium-low, and follow the package instructions to finish cooking.
  2. To prepare the chermoula, combine the parsley, mint, garlic, lemon juice and zest, cumin, and harissa paste in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a metal blade and pulse until finely minced. With the processor running, drizzle the olive oil into the mixture and process until smooth and creamy. Set aside.
  3. Preheat a grill to high heat or heat a grill pan over high heat. Sprinkle the lamb chops with the salt and the pepper. Place on the grill, cook for 2 minutes, rotate with tongs one-quarter turn (don’t turn over yet), and cook for another 2 minutes. Then turn over and cook for 2 minutes and check for doneness. If you want the lamb more well done, turn a quarter-turn and cook for another 2 to 4 minutes. Transfer to a clean platter (see Kitchen Tips) and let rest.
  4. Add the apricots to the couscous and toss with a fork to incorporate.
  5. Mound equal portions of the couscous onto 4 individual serving plates. Arrange the lamb chops around the couscous on each plate. Spoon the chermoula around the couscous and over the lamb chops and serve immediately.

Kitchen Tips

  1. To toast spices, pour the ground or whole seeds into a frying pan or cast-iron skillet and set over medium heat. Toast for 10 to 20 seconds, or up to 1 minute, until fragrant. Watch carefully so the spices do not burn.
  2. Always use a fresh plate for fully cooked meat, poultry or fish cooked on the grill;  NEVER place it back on the plate that held it when it was raw, as the original plate holds uncooked juices that might carry foodborne bacteria. These microorganisms are killed during cooking, but placing the cooked food back into the uncooked juices can contaminate it and cause foodborne illness.

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