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Chutney Inspires a Lamb Dinner

February 22, 1996|BETTY ROSBOTTOM

From the day I tasted my first chutney, years ago, I was a fan. There's something about the clean, crisp taste, the mixture of hot and sweet flavors and the chunky texture that pleases immensely. I have turned out homemade chutneys on occasion, but more often than not I have enjoyed chutneys prepared by talented friends or I have purchased commercial ones.

From the first bite, I was crazy about this glistening, golden-hued condiment. It tasted delicious on a smoked turkey and cream cheese sandwich. A friend to whom I gave some of the chutney reported that it was superb with roasted pork tenderloin. I tried it with broiled lamb chops and liked it so much it occurred to me what a good dish the lamb chops and the lemon-apricot chutney would make.

The chutney can be made several days ahead (it actually improves in taste after standing a few days), and the lamb chops take only about 10 minutes to broil. Quick couscous cooked in chicken stock in place of water and a saute of zucchini and sweet peppers could be served as side dishes. Fresh fruit and cheese would make a stress-free dessert.

LAMB CHOPS WITH LEMON-APRICOT CHUTNEY

LEMON-APRICOT CHUTNEY

1 lemon with firm peel

2 small Granny Smith apples (about 3/4 pound total weight)

6 ounces dried apricots, cut into small pieces

2/3 cup golden raisins

1/3 cup coarsely chopped shallots

1 cup light brown sugar, packed

2/3 cup cider vinegar

2 1/2 teaspoons minced garlic

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon chili powder

1/8 teaspoon salt

Dash ground coriander

Dash ground cloves

Dash ground black pepper

Dash red pepper flakes

Cut ends from lemon and discard, then cut lemon into 8 wedges. Slice each wedge crosswise very thinly, so that you have small lemon pieces. Place in large heavy saucepan. Peel and core apples, then cut into small dice. Add to saucepan.

Add apricots, raisins, shallots, brown sugar, vinegar, garlic, ginger, cinnamon, chili powder, salt, coriander, cloves, black pepper and red pepper flakes. Place pan over very low heat and cook until mixture is quite thick, 30 to 40 minutes, stirring frequently to prevent burning. When done, remove from heat and cool. Spoon into container. Cover and refrigerate up to 1 week. Makes 2 cups.

LAMB CHOPS

3 large garlic cloves, smashed

2 teaspoons salt or to taste

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

8 (1-inch-thick) loin or rib lamb chops (3 to 4 ounces each)

Place garlic, salt and pepper in small bowl and crush with pestle or back of spoon to make coarse paste. Rub lamb chops on both sides with mixture. Place chops on foil-lined broiling pan and broil 4 to 5 minutes per side for medium-rare. Check for doneness by making slit with knife in 1 chop.

When chops are done, place on serving platter. Garnish each with some chutney. Pass extra chutney separately.

Makes 4 servings.

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