Springtime Grilling: Grilled, Marinated Five-Spice Spring Lamb Chops

Five-spice lamb chops (Wendy Goodfriend)

These succulent lamb chops are marinated in a spiced, darkly sweet sauce with plenty of garlic. Grilling them adds a smoky note to the tender meat.

I’ve had mixed feeling about lamb since childhood, and up until maybe the last decade, I would have told you that I don’t like lamb. My feelings are starting to change. I do like lamb, but I’m just really picky about it.

While I’m not a fan of overly gamey-flavored lamb, and you won’t find me roasting a leg of lamb anytime soon, I have an ever-growing fondness for lamb chops (and, let’s be honest, braised lamb shanks and lamb tagines are getting higher up on my list of likes too).

Tender, melt-in-your-mouth, springtime lamb chops are a heavenly match for full-flavored marinades and rubs and they absolutely adore the licking flames of a charcoal-fired grill.

You can use either loin chops (the meatier ones that look like little steaks) or the more expensive center-cut rib chops (the pretty ones with the long rib bones) for this dish, just be sure to adjust your cooking time according to how thick or thin the chops are. The one thing you don’t want to do is overcook them!

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Serve this deliciousness with fluffy steamed rice and some quickly sautéed spring veggies (or grilled asparagus). Yum!

Recipe: Five-spice lamb chops

Makes about 6 servings

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup soy sauce or tamari
  • 3 tbsp hoisin sauce
  • 2 tbsp light brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp rice wine vinegar
  • 1 tbsp dry sherry
  • 2 tsp Chinese five-spice powder
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 star anise
  • 3 lbs lamb loin or rib chops, 1 to 1 1/4 inches thick, trimmed

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Instructions:

  1. In a bowl or large measuring pitcher, whisk together the soy sauce, hoisin sauce, rice vinegar, sugar, five-spice, salt, and garlic. Transfer to large resealable plastic bag. Add the lamb and star anise, seal the bag, and turn to coat. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours or overnight.
  2. Prepare a grill for medium to medium-high heat. Remove the lamb from the marinade and bring it to room temperature for 30 minutes while the grill heats.
  3. If you like, while the lamb is coming to room temperature, pour the marinade into a small saucepan over medium heat and bring to a boil. Cook, stirring, for a few minutes until syrupy.
  4. Oil the grill grate with cooking spray. Grill the lamb until nicely charred and cooked to your liking, about 5 minutes on each side for medium-rare (they should come to 130–135F when ready). If you like, just before the lamb is ready, brush the lamb with the marinade to glaze it slightly. Grill on each side to caramelize the marinade slightly. Transfer to a platter and let rest for 5 minutes before serving.
Five-spice lamb chops
Five-spice lamb chops (Wendy Goodfriend)

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