Evening at the Improv

I don’t always have a week’s worth of meals planned out in advance. Sometimes I get so immersed in work that I forget I have to put a meal on the table at the end of the day. Recently I have been treating those unplanned days as opportunities to improvise with what I have available.

Wednesday was one of those days. A quick survey of the Deep Storage Facility and the fridge turned up frozen lamb rib and loin chops, chicken stock, fava beans, and large-grained couscous. Thanks to recent research by Harold McGee, I was able to thaw out the chops quickly. While they came up to temperature I scrounged up a few more ingredients: mint, pomegranate juice, pomegranate vinegar, and harissa.

I rubbed the chops with harissa and salt, and let them marinate while I boiled the stock and started the couscous.

I poured the pomegranate juice into a pan and boiled it to reduce, tossing in a few mint sprigs to infuse their flavor. I blanched and peeled the favas, then chiffonaded some more mint. When the couscous was al dente, I tossed in the mint and favas and kept the mixture warm while I heated up a grill pan.

I grilled the chops, then removed the mint sprigs from the pomegranate reduction, correcting the acid balance with a splash of the pomegranate vinegar.

As the chops rested, I loosened the couscous with a splash of lemon-infused olive oil. Plating was simple: chops on top of the couscous, pomegranate syrup drizzled around the outside, and a few baby mint leaves for garnish.

Lamb, Pomegranate, and mint is a classic combination, but the addition of the harissa made the whole dish pop. I had been thinking about these flavors for a while, so this dish served as a dress rehearsal for something a bit more ambitious: butterflied boneless lamb leg, rubbed with harissa and cooked sous vide, then finished on the grill. I’ll let you know how that turns out.


Lamb: Stillman’s
Harissa: See Smell Taste
Pomegranate Juice: POM Wonderful

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