Minty Lamb Chops with Charred Dates, Whipped Feta, and Smashed Cukes

SERVES: 4

If you haven’t given yourself enough time to marinate, marinate your lamb chops at room temperature for an hour, turning from time to time, and that’ll do the trick; marinating outside of the refrigerator accelerates the process and, ultimately, a little bit of marination is better than none at all. If you have a food processor, now’s the time to pull it out. The whipped feta will still be tasty if you make it by hand, but the texture will be decidedly less fluffy.

If you aren’t up for grilling, you can also do this in a cast iron skillet. Nothing will change, you’ll preheat the skillet over high heat, and then sear away as instructed in the recipe.

Active Time: 1 hr

Total Time: 4 hrs

Minty Lamb Chops with Charred Dates, Whipped Feta, and Smashed Cukes

Produce

  • 1 head garlic
  • 1 large bunch mint
  • 4 persian cucumbers (¾ -1 pound)

Pantry

  • ⅓ cup plus 3 tablespoons olive oil, plus additional for drizzling
  • ¼ cup plus 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • Kosher salt, freshly ground black pepper
  • ⅓ cup pitted castelvetrano olives
  • Mild red pepper flakes
  • Vegetable oil, for oiling the grill
  • 12 dates
  • Maldon salt, for serving

Dairy

  • 5 ounces feta cheese (3/4 cup crumbled)
  • 5 ounces fresh whole-milk ricotta (about ¾ cup)

Meat

  • 8 lamb rib chops, about 1 ¾ pounds

1. Marinate the chops:

  • Peel and smash 8 cloves of garlic with the back of a knife. Add to a medium bowl, along with ⅓ cup olive oil, ¼ cup red wine vinegar, 1 tablespoon salt, and 1 teaspoon black pepper. Mix to combine. Roughly chop 8 sprigs of mint, including the stems, and add to the bowl.
  • Place 8 lamb chops in a large resealable plastic bag and pour in the marinade. Seal the bag and swish the marinade around with your hands to coat all sides of the chops. Transfer to the refrigerator and let marinate at least 3 hours and up to overnight. From time to time, turn the bag over to redistribute the marinade.

2. Whip the feta:

  • In the bowl of a food processor, combine 5 ounces feta and 5 ounces fresh ricotta. Process until super smooth and whipped, about 2 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl from time to time. Add a drizzle of olive oil, ½ teaspoon pepper, and salt to taste. Mix to combine, and transfer to the refrigerator.

3. Make the cucumber salad:

  • Place 4 persian cucumbers on a work surface. Using a rolling pin or the flat side of a meat mallet, bash each cucumber 2-3 times. Don’t hold back! Breaking them down just ever so slightly at this point will make them more receptive to the dressing, and makes for a great, craggly texture, too. Cut the cukes crosswise into rough 1-inch chunks and transfer to a bowl. Toss with 2 tablespoons olive oil, 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar, 1 teaspoon salt, a few pinches red pepper flakes, and ⅓ cup castelvetrano olives, breaking them up with your fingers as you add them to the bowl so they’re rough and chunky, too. Transfer to the refrigerator until you’re ready to serve.

4. Grill the chops and dates:

  • Let the chops sit at room temperature, 30 minutes to 1 hour before you’re ready to grill. (This is a great time to be making cucumber salad.)
  • Remove the chops from the marinade and lightly pat dry, brushing off any large garlic or mint pieces.
  • Heat a grill to high. Brush and oil the grates. Drizzle 1 teaspoon olive oil on the dates and toss to combine.
  • Place the chops on the grates and grill, 2 minutes per side, until charred in places and grill marks appear. If the flames flare up, move the chops to another spot, cleaning the grill with a grill brush as necessary. Lamb chops are fatty, so this is to be expected! If there’s a nice fat cap on your chops, give the sides a bit of char, holding the chops between a pair of grill tongs and carefully holding the edges on a hot part of the grates.
  • Remove chops to a plate and let rest. Add the dates to the grill and cook until charred on the underside, about 30 seconds. Give them a flip and let grill for an additional 30 seconds. Don’t be afraid of some crispiness!

5. Finish it up and serve:

  • Tear the dates into large pieces, discarding pits if they’ve got ‘em, and add to the bowl with cucumbers. Toss to combine and season to taste with salt and pepper. Finely slice ¼ cup lightly packed mint leaves and add them to the cukes.
  • Divide the feta-ricotta mixture among serving plates or spread onto a large platter. Top with lamb chops and cucumber-date salad and SERVE, with Maldon salt on the side.

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