Lamb Loin Chops with a POM Pomegranate Bordelaise
This month's POM recipe had an interesting twist from the start. Our local Space Coast newspaper, Florida Today is doing a feature on food blogging and had contacted Christey and me, asking if they could "ride along" on one of our blog posts. The day they called, I had just figured out what I was going to do for my POM post for September, so we arranged a get-together and I cooked up some lamb.
Lamb and pomegranate have a pretty close history in the middle east, where pomegranates are common. On the French side, a bordelaise is a refined red wine sauce that pairs well with hearty meats like lamb. Personally, I think the traditional mint and lamb combination is far too overpowering for a tasty cut of lamb, and I also have an irrational dislike of rosemary. But, fresh thyme is also a common lamb herb (and is one of my favorite herbs in general), and substituting pomegranate juice for red wine in a serious reduction creates a sweet, fruity taste that (I think) makes an interesting contrast to the mint jelly so common in UK or stuffy New York City preparations of lamb. So, I took the concept of a reduced red wine bordelaise and substituted POM 100% pomegranate juice, used fresh thyme and some chives for the herbs, and took a lot of liberty with some traditional lamb concepts.
And, we did all this while Christey and I were being interviewed on camera and video. We'll link to the final articles when they become available.
We made a pomegranate bordelaise over grilled lamb chops, with a spinach greek salad and pomegranate vinaigrette.
We have a galley kitchen that is modern and updated, but a little crowded when it comes to lights, two photographers, a journalist, a video camera, and a cook:
Still, the food must go on, so here we go! I started with the "bordelaise" reduction, by chopping a couple small shallots and adding them to saucepan with some fresh sprigs of thyme. I added a cup of POM 100% pomegranate juice, and simmered until there was about a tablespoon of liquid left.
Once the sauce was beginning to reduce, I made a simple marinade for the lamb. About 1/2 cup of POM, the juice of a lemon, a couple cloves of garlic smashed, 1/2 cup olive oil, and about 10 oz of beer.
I trimmed some extra fat off the lamb loin chops and let them sit in the marinade for about 30 minutes.
So, the sauce was simmering, and the lamb was marinading, so I worked on the vinaigrette for the salad. I minced a small shallot and minced a medium clove of garlic, adding it to a blender. I added about 1/2 tablespoon of dijon mustard (the protein helps bind the liquid and oil), and about 1/4 cup of POM. An equal amount of champagne vinegar was added (my favorite, but rice vinegar or white wine vinegar would work, too). I pulsed the blender while slowly drizzling oil, which, somewhat like a mayonnaise, thickened the vinaigrette into an unstable emulsion.
I put the blender into the fridge and put the chops on a gas grill, heated on high. Once they were on the grill, I lowered the heat to medium and covered. About 5-7 minutes on one side until some nice grill marks formed, then I flipped and cooked for another 5-7 minutes. Grills vary, but I was shooting for a medium to medium-rare doneness (reddish-pink on the inside), assuming that I'd take them off and let them rest for another 5 minutes or so, which would carry them over toward medium.
I had a film of liquid left in the saucepan, with a bit more stored up in the shallots, which did end up being about a tablespoon in total. That's over a cup of ingredients refined down to nothing but flavor. In a sense, it's similar to what the concept of a bullion cube is -- the essence of concentrated flavor without the water -- except it's a lot more natural and has no added preservatives or salts. As it was, though, it's too intense (and too reduced) for a sauce on its own, so the flavor has to be brought back into a sauce base and diluted gently. In a bordelaise, the concentrated red wine is blended with butter (essentially fat) and a concentrated beef stock. The beef adds a hit of umami, although the term was unknown in France at the time, but it also adds some water back in to semi-emulsify the sauce with the butter and the wine.
I took two tablespoons of butter and melted it gently into the sauce, and added about 1/4 cup of beef stock. I just barely heated it until nicely warm -- heat it too much above body temperature, and the butter will separate and the sauce will break.
I chopped some chives and some fresh thyme, strained the sauce, and added the herbs.
Plating was pretty simple -- some chops with sauce and some sheeps-milk feta chunked over the top, and some baby spinach with feta, kalamata olives, and the pomegranate vinaigrette over the top.
Pomegranate "Bordelaise" 1 cup POM 100% pomegranate juice 2 small or 1 medium shallot, sliced 2-3 sprigs fresh thyme 1/4 cup beef stock 2 tablespoons butter fresh thyme and chives, chopped kosher salt/pepper
Pomegranate Marinade 1/2 cup POM 100% pomegranate juice 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil 1 lemon, juiced 2 cloves garlic, smashed kosher salt/pepper
Pomegranate Vinaigrette Greek Spinach Salad 1 small shallot, minced 1 clove garlic, minced 1/4 cup POM 100% pomegranate juice 1/4 cup champagne vinegar (or white wine vinegar or rice vinegar) 1/2 tbsp dijon mustard 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil kosher salt/pepper 1/2 bag baby spinach kalamata olives 2 oz sheep-milk feta
Deconstruction: When I tasted the reduced pomegranate (before the butter and stock), it was syrupy and sweet. The fruity richness is much what I imagine what grenadine was supposed to taste like, when grenadine was actually made with real pomegranates. The butter and stock mellowed the sweetness nicely, and the thyme and chives gave a great herbal taste that was (in my opinion) much better than the sharpness of mint. A real bordelaise is typically more beefy with the demi-glace, but this was a fun way to use the technique with new ingredients. The sharp sheep-milk feta was great with the full taste of the lamb. +++++++ Don't forget to follow us on Twitter!