January 2, 2008

A Meal Fit for the New Year

Although I’ve had a few fun experiences on New Year’s Eve, more often I’ve had bad – as in sucky, miserable, annoying – evenings. So, for the time being, my wife and I have abandoned any pretense of big plans for Dec. 31. This year we opted for getting the kids to bed at their usual time and enjoying some good food under dim lighting in our dining room.

The menu had an inherently Indian flair, born from what I though would make an ideal choice for the meal’s centerpiece, lamb chops from Pucker Brush Farm, which I picked up in November at SlowFood Pittsburgh’s last Laptop Butcher of 2007.

Once we decided to prepare those lamb chops tandoori style, we needed some appropriate accompanying dishes. They were, for the appetizer, some tumeric, ginger, and cayenne-infused shrimp and, to play sidecar to the chops, a curried lentil, sweet potato, and chard stew-style dish.

I have little to add to the recipes themselves, which I mostly followed. I halved both the shrimp and lentil recipes, both of which worked out extremely well. The lentils required almost four cups of vegetable broth to get tender and stay moist.

The chops were truly luscious, some of the most tender meat I’ve ever had. And the tandoori marinade, so chock full of vibrant flavors, did not overwhelm the lamb at all. My only recommendation would be to scrape off some of the excess marinade from the chops before putting them on the grill. Otherwise, you might have a hard time getting what I think is a necessary bit of char on the chops, which are only on the grill for 10 minutes for medium rare.

Initially I had planned on a desert of vanilla ice cream, topped with crushed hazelnuts, dark chocolate shavings, and a splash of Bailey’s. But we switched gears and just had a big glass of an Icelandic ice wine, which with its pear flavors was a welcome way to end an excellent meal.

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