The meal: Grilled Mint Julep Lamb Chops with Slow Cooked Green Beans
Quantities are set to feed two, you should be able to adjust from there for larger groups
I wanted to put together a meal that shied away from the standard Southern stereotypes (everything fried, covered in gravy, etc., not that those things aren't delicious when cooked properly), while at the same time building on some of our strengths: the lamb dish is grilled, and the sauce is a sort of high-class BBQ sauce. The side dish is definitely traditional, but there's a chance you haven't had beans like this if you haven't visited the South.
Note:The day before cooking, take about a half cup/125mL of Bourbon (or Jack Daniels or whatever whisky/whiskey you have available and put it in a jar or separate bottle. Add in a small handful of torn fresh mint leaves, and allow to steep overnight. When you're ready to prepare the sauce, strain the Bourbon and discard the leaves.
Slow Cooked Green Beans
You'll want to start these at least an hour before you want to serve dinner
- 1 quart/1 liter of fresh green beans, washed with the ends snapped off (frozen can be substituted, but fresh is always better)
- 1 ham hock (a smoked pig ankle--substitute a large handful of diced salt pork, ham or lightly cooked bacon if necessary)
- 1/2 diced onion
- dash of sugar
Grilled Mint Julep Lamb Chops
- 1/2 cup/125mL Bourbon (see note above)
- 1 small handful torn mint leaves (see note above)
- 1/4 cup/60mL molasses (substitute sorghum or honey if necessary)
- 1/2 cup/125mL Dijon mustard
- 4 lamb loin chops (mine were about an inch/2.5cm thick)
- salt and pepper
Your entries are due on August 24. Just e-mail me with the word "Combinations" in the subject line and I'll include your various responses.
To clarify two of the ingredients, here's some photos. When I talk about green beans, I'm talking about these:
They may be longer, shorter, thicker, thinner, all depending on variety and local season. They may also be known as string beans, French beans, pole beans, filet beans, bush beans, snap beans... These are all slightly different, but most should work for this recipe. Just don't cook them as long if you're using thin, delicate beans.
And here's what a ham hock looks like:
If you've got a dog, this may look like something in the "smoked animal parts" section of your local pet store. However, these are pretty easy to get here in the South. This one cost me 75¢. Now, once again, don't go crazy trying to find these wherever you happen to be. Above I suggested using a handful of diced salt pork, ham or cooked bacon. There's got to be some sort of cured pork product available locally to you. If you've got a local butcher who sells ham, you can ask for one of the small end pieces, or you can even use the bones from something like a spiral sliced ham.