Salt & Pepper Lamb Chops with Gai Choy

Finding time to eat well can be challenging. As a single father and a business owner, my spare time can be limited. It’s often tempting to rush into a fast food drive through when taking HX from summer camp to his martial arts classes. The days are full and I definitely don’t want to spend the precious time with my son in the kitchen (at least not all the time). So I’ve been trying to focus lately on meals that are quick to prepare, more interesting that ham sandwiches, and that can be eaten more picnic-style.

Recently, HX got it into his head that it had been far too long since he had eaten lamb. As luck would have it, I found a rack of lamb on sale last week ($6.99/lb!), so he was in luck. I myself am not a huge fan of lamb, partly because I think people tend to “over-prepare” it. Lamb obviously has a very distinctive taste and I think that unless quite a bit of care is taken in seasoning, it comes off as though you are trying to “cover” the flavour. Also, considering that I was looking for quick, I chose to keep it simple – season with salt and pepper and a quick roast in a 450° oven.

Another “standard” preparation for lamb (actually with any strong or gamey meat) is to cover the flavour with a sweet, usually fruit-based, sauce. In my book, gamey = good, as long as it’s not out of control. This holds true for lamb, boar, venison, pheasant, grouse, duck, squab, all manner of rodents – and any of the myriad other creatures that make for fine eating… While I agree that lamb does leave a craving for sweetness to balance it, I don’t think it needs to be overwhelming. Actually, I think it’s the sweetness that needs balancing and that calls for acid. And suddenly it’s sounding complicated. But it’s not. A quick search through the refrigerator turned up a bottle of Moutarde au Champagne (just in case you don’t know – and that’s OK – mustard is made with vinegar – acetic acid). Add a bit of honey and heat in a sauce pan and you have honey mustard that far exceeds the crap you get with Chicken McNuggets (or even buy in a bottle).

Of course, you have to feed kids something green (it’s in the rule book), and since the lamb would be served with mustard, why not mustard greens? Again, I’m looking for quick, and American mustard greens take some cookin’, much like collards and kale. Fortunately, a lot of the Asian cultivars are in season and the market had gai choy – Chinese mustard greens. Keeping with simple and fast, a quick stir fry with garlic, a bit of serrano pepper, salt and finishing with furu (fermented soy bean curd – I’ve mentioned it before) and I was good to go.

No time for presentation, but who cares? Parked the SUV in the shade and ate from tupperware – beats the hell out of the dollar menu.

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