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If you have never experienced Lamb Jam, I suggest you order your tickets for next year in advance.  I recently went to the third annual sold-out event at the Charles Hotel, put on by the American Lamb Foundation and featuring 18 chefs from all over the Boston area (don’t worry, other cities get in on the magic, too.) At each regional Lamb Jam, chefs make their favorite lamb dish and compete against each other in hopes to go on and win in the national finals.  At Boston’s event there were also local craft breweries such as Mayflower, Cape Ann Brewing and Ipswitch brewering, as well as butchery demonstrations.

Two of my favorite dishes this year were beignets stuffed with lamb, Vermont cheese and blood orange sauce (everyone was calling it a “lamb jelly donut,” which sounds significantly weirder and less appetizing); and lamb crepes with harra sauce.  All this lambtasticness sparked the next idea for a new recipe: Marinated Lamb Chops with Pomegranate Pumpernickel Porter Reduction Sauce.

I decided to use a beer that I had at the event,  Ipswich 5 Mile Pumpernickel Rye Porter, as the star of this dish.  It’s a complex beer with locally grown rye and chocolate malts.  I chose a tasty lamb rib chop to stand up to this robust beer.  A simple marinade works for the lamb; you don’t need to add too much to it because it already has such a great flavor. Accompanying the lamb is a Belgian-style root vegetable mash.  I was at the Somerville Farmers’ Market this past week and Winter Moon Roots Farm from Hadley, MA had such a wonderful selection of root vegetables. This mash is a healthier version of a mashed potato, but still savory and comforting enough for the winter months. Holding the dish all together is caramelized fennel.  Fennel is a wonderful, refreshing and in-season vegetable, and brings a nice sweetness to the dish.  Finally, the sauce is sweet syrup consisting of reduced pomegranate juice and condensed beer, which really brings out the roasted flavors of rye and pumpernickel.

Enjoy this restaurant-quality dish in the comfort of your own home. And go buy yourself an extra bottle of 5 Mile Pumpernickel Rye Porter while you’re at it, because you’re going to save yourself some serious change!

-Chef John

Lamb Marinade

4 Lamb Chops
2 oz Olive Oil
Lemon Juice from 1/2 lemon
2 tbsp Fresh Thyme

Caramelized Fennel
1 Bulb Fennel Cut in 4 quarters then slice thin
2 oz Olive Oil
2 oz 5 Mile Porter

Belgian Root Mashed
2 Carrots    Peeled and chopped   
1 Parsnip    Peeled and chopped
1 bulb Celery Root    Peeled and chopped
2 lbs Potato    Peeled and chopped 
1 leek (white park only) Chopped and washed   
4 Bay Leaves
5 Sprigs Fresh Thyme 
3 tbsp Sour Cream       

Pomegranate Pumpernickel Sauce
Lemon Juice ½ lemon
1 cups Pomegranate Juice
1 tbsp Sugar
10 oz 5 Mile Porter

Preparation and Serving
Marinate lamb with fresh thyme, salt, pepper, olive oil and lemon juice.  Marinate for at least 2 hours.

To make sauce
Add pomegranate juice, sugar and lemon juice in pot  and reduce on medium heat to 1/4 cup.  About 40 minutes

Reduce 10oz porter to 4oz and then add 3 tablespoons of pomegranate syrup to beer and cook til dissolved.

To make mashed
Add 1st 7 ingredients for mashed in pot and add water just up to the top of the vegetables.  Boil until tender.  Discard thyme and bay leaves. Do not drain the water

Add sour cream, salt and pepper and then mash using a whisk.

To make caramelized fennel
Add fennel to hot pan with oil and cook for 20- 30 minutes or until caramelized.  Add beer and reduce and finish with salt and pepper.

To make lamb
Pan sear or grill lamb chop on medium high heat.  5 minutes per side or until medium rare 120 degrees*.

First add caramelized fennel to center of plate.  Then add mashed on top of fennel.  Finally add grilled chop then drizzle with pomegranate pumpernickel syrup.  Add sprig of thyme for garnish.

*Consuming raw or undercooked meat, poultry, seafood, shellfish and eggs may increase your risk of food borne illness