Marks Daily Apple
Serving up health and fitness insights (daily, of course) with a side of irreverence.
4 Jul

Lamb with Blueberry Wine Reduction

lambwithblue2There’s no such thing as a free lunch. You’ve heard that before, right? Economic theories aside, the saying means nothing comes free. Everything is a process, including food. Most of us already know that. We know how important it is that we take the time to understand – or at least think about – where it came from and, if it was prepared for you, how and what it was made from. Food choices are a philosophy of life, a display of respect for ourselves and our surroundings. And bad food choices are more than a stomach ache!

A few weeks ago, in the name of showing a little appreciation for local farmers, I went to a chic but homey restaurant nearby to sample from their menu of locally-grown and organic ingredients. (They even have organic beer!) I tried an appetizer of roasted lamb, aged balsamico and sage, and decided right then and there this dish held all the power of the entree. I would have to replicate it.

swisschardvendor

On my weekly Sunday farmers’ market trip I wandered around with the idea of the re-invention in mind, stopping first at the meat vendor to look through all the varieties of local lamb (ground, shoulder, chops, t-bone) and decide on a centerpiece. I picked out a few chops and moved on to inspect everything from apples to chicken livers and free-range turkey eggs, to wines and herbs and leafy greens, in search of those other possible components. At the produce vendor, my knees weakened for a bundle of Swiss chard (is that romantic?), and at the berry vendor, the recipe for my dish finally crystallized. Blueberries. Of course! Cooked and made into a sauce. Sautéed Swiss chard on the side! Lamb, broiled in red wine!

swisschard 1

When I finally got home and started preparing the lamb, I was so tempted – as most people are with lamb, I think — to make a big production. I was tempted to add a lot of seasoning, to cook the chops in oil, to wrap them up with thread and braise them. But why? Under the broiler, unadorned, lamb meat practically smacks with perfection (just listen to that crackling!) A few minutes on either side, and you could eat broiled lamb chops all by themselves.

chardwithlamb

But like most who enjoy cooking, the smell of roasting meat motivates. And if it prompts you to cook further, you won’t be sorry. Blueberries lend the most delicious and complementary sweetness, and they’re not only entirely worth the extra few minutes to prepare, but they’re easy. All you have to do is mix the berries with a little red wine and garlic, and you have the makings of a Primal gourmet marinade. Bye bye, mint jelly.

The verdict: this recipe is an excellent reminder of the why putting time into your food is so rewarding. Even if you don’t go hand-pick local ingredients at a farmers’ market like I did, choosing the best ingredients available, and then taking them home and preparing the different features of the meal pulls you in and allows you to appreciate what you’re eating in a way that those saloon patrons of the 1950s never did.  Being able to stand at the stove and taste things, smell the lamb fat as it rises in heat waves from the oven below – there is something about this that made the final product so satisfying. Like “lean back in your chair and sigh” satisfying. I’m telling you so. But don’t just take my word for it.

To make lamb and chard you need:

  • 12 oz. lamb chops, fresh preferred but frozen thawed will work (also, feel free to use any other cut of lamb, it will work just as well!)
  • As much or as little fresh green or red-stem Swiss chard as you want (I used green, and local organic)
  • Salt (to taste)
  • Pepper (to taste)

To make the blueberry reduction you need:

  • 2 cups fresh organic blueberries
  • 1 cup red wine (use a Cabernet or Zinfandel, something you’d actually drink)
  • 4 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 2 tbsp olive oil

Heat broiler. Pat lamb with a bit of salt and pepper, and set chops in a glass baking dish (unoiled). When the oven’s hot, cook chops for 5 minutes, turning them when done to cook for another 5-6 minutes on the other side.

While chops broil, heat oil in a saucepan. When hot, add garlic. Saute for a minute and then add wine. Bring to a boil, then slightly reduce heat. You want the wine to reduce by half, but don’t overcook!

Add blueberries to the reduction and simmer for 1 minute. The product should not be thick, so don’t worry if it looks like red-blueberry soup. The blueberries should not be cooked so long that they lose their skins and become mushy. You want the blueberries to keep their shape, and to mingle with the flavors of the wine, garlic and oil. Let the sauce simmer on low heat.

The final step is the Swiss chard. Steam this separately just by placing it on the stove and boiling it lightly in a little water, just until it begins to wilt and is still nice and green.

On dinner plates, finally spoon blueberry reduction over lamb chops, and serve with a side of Swiss chard. Beautiful!

lambwithblue

You want comments? We got comments:

Imagine you’re George Clooney. Take a moment to admire your grooming and wit. Okay, now imagine someone walks up to you and asks, “What’s your name?” You say, “I’m George Clooney.” Or maybe you say, “I’m the Clooninator!” You don’t say “I’m George of George Clooney Sells Movies Blog” and you certainly don’t say, “I’m Clooney Weight Loss Plan”. So while spam is technically meat, it ain’t anywhere near Primal. Please nickname yourself something your friends would call you.

  1. Perfect timing, I was just on my way to the Farmer’s Market for some blueberries! Can’t wait to try it!

    Krys wrote on July 4th, 2009
  2. Q: Doctor, I’ve heard that cardiovascular exercise can prolong life. Is this true?

    A: Your heart is only good for so many beats, and that’s it. Don’t waste it on exercise.

    Everything wears out eventually. Speeding up your heart will not make you live longer. That’s like saying you can extend the life of your car by driving it faster.

    Want to live longer? Take a nap.

    Q: Should I cut down on meat and eat more fruits and vegetables?

    A: You must grasp logistical efficiencies. What does a cow eat? Hay and corn!

    And what are these? Vegetables. So a steak is nothing more than an efficient mechanism of delivering vegetables to your system. Need grain? Eat chicken.

    Beef is also a good source of field grass (green leafy vegetable).

    And a pork chop can give you 100% of your recommended daily allowance of vegetable products.

    Q: Should I reduce my alcohol intake?

    A: No, not at all. Wine is made from fruit. Brandy is distilled wine. That means they take the water out of the fruity bit so you get even more of the goodness that way. Beer is also made out of grain. Bottoms up!

    Anyway, 1% of traffic accidents are caused by drunk drivers. So people who don’t drink are very dangerous because they cause 99% of traffic accidents.

    Q: How can I calculate my body/fat ratio?

    A: Well, if you have a body and you have fat, your ratio is one to one.

    If you have two bodies, your ratio is two to one, etc.

    Q: What are some of the advantages of participating in a regular exercise program?

    A: Can’t think of a single one, sorry. My philosophy is: No Pain … Good!

    Q: Aren’t fried foods bad for you?

    A: YOU’RE NOT LISTENING!!! …. Foods are fried these days in vegetable oil.

    In fact, they’re permeated in it. How could getting more vegetables be bad for you?

    Q: Will sit-ups help prevent me from getting a little soft around the middle?

    A: Definitely not! When you exercise a muscle, it gets bigger.

    You should only be doing sit-ups if you want a bigger stomach.

    Q: Is chocolate bad for me?

    A: Are you crazy? HELLO … Cocoa beans! Another vegetable!!!

    It’s the best feel-good food around!

    Q: Is swimming good for your figure?

    A: If swimming is good for your figure, explain whales to me.

    Q: Is getting in-shape important for my lifestyle?

    A: Hey! ‘Round’ is a shape!

    Well, I hope this has cleared up any misconceptions you may have had about food and diets.

    And remember: ‘Life should NOT be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in an attractive and well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways – Chardonnay in one hand, chocolate in the other, body thoroughly used up, totally worn out and screaming, ‘WOO HOO, what a Ride!’

    AND…..

    For those of you who watch what you eat, here’s the final word on nutrition and health. It’s a relief to know the truth after all those conflicting nutritional studies.

    1. The Japanese eat very little fat and suffer fewer heart attacks than Americans.

    2. The Mexicans eat a lot of fat and suffer fewer heart attacks than Americans.

    3. The Chinese drink very little red wine and suffer fewer heart attacks than Americans.

    4. The Italians drink a lot of red wine and suffer fewer heart attacks than Americans.

    5. The Germans drink a lot of beer and eat lots of sausages and fats and suffer fewer heart attacks than Americans.

    CONCLUSION

    1. Eat and drink what you like.

    2. Speaking American English is apparently what kills you.

    3. ‘Today’ is a gift. That is why it is called ‘The Present

    *p/s- I’m just joking…..

    Bob wrote on July 5th, 2009
  3. Traditionally I always related cherries & beeris with hunting meat, elk, deer etc as they have this dry texture and stong taste, never occured to me use it with lamb or pork. I shall try it .

    Thanks

    thania1 wrote on July 5th, 2009
  4. “lean back in your chair and sigh”

    Hah, love it! What a delicious summer dish. Never would have thought to pair lamb with berries. Sometimes it’s just better to K.I.S.S. with these natural ingredients! A trip to the farmers market is in order…

    Lauren B wrote on July 5th, 2009
  5. . . . and I’ll try this when I get bored with the cherries.

    My favourites are lamb *cutlets* rather than chops (though terminology may vary) they have much more succulent fat which turns to delicious crackling. Usually I grill them (which I think you’d call broiling – put under a burner) with rosemary sprigs from the enormous tree which is taking over the backyard.

    I was just ogling the sheep on the local estate, there aren’t as many as there were so I suspect I’ll find the rest in the butcher’s tomorrow.

    Trinkwasser wrote on July 6th, 2009
  6. Do you know how hard it is to read these recipes whilst trapped at my desk?? I froze & dried a bunch of blueberries when they were on sale. Now I also got a way to use up some of the “less palatable” wine someone else bought…

    Peggy wrote on July 6th, 2009
  7. This recipe sounds heavenly. But the light pink meat in the picture almost made me throw up. Is lamb ever supposed to be that color?

    Amy Wills wrote on July 14th, 2009
    • I too noticed that it is the light pink colour of salmon steak and found this to be quite disturbing… Maybe it’s just the lighting?

      SophieE wrote on November 6th, 2011
  8. This is beautifully written and sounds delicious as well. I can’t wait until blueberries are in season so I can try it!

    Bonnie wrote on February 11th, 2011

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