PREPARATION: 30 MINUTES
MARINADE: 1 HOUR OR OVERNIGHT
COOK TIME: 40 MINUTES
A generous double-loin chop taken from the middle of the rib, suited for grilling and frying. This recipe inspired by Mediterranean summer with a dash of Greece and a pinch of Tunisia and Morocco benefits from a little bit of foresight. The more time you give the marinade, the more its flavour will have time to properly infuse into the chops. You can either prepare the meat a day ahead, which will come in handy if you intend to grill for a larger party, or otherwise give the marinade at least an hour before heating up the frying pan. If all you have is an hour, just leave the chops out of the fridge while marinating so that they come to room temperature at the same time.
NB The quantities of ingredients for the marinade are flexible, just add a little more or less of something if you wish but be careful with the cinnamon and harissa as they can be overwhelming in larger quantities. Avoid adding salt and pepper in the marinade.
Extra sides: Honey roast vegetables such as carrots or beetroot pair brilliantly with this dish, otherwise try some steamed green beans or a light summery salad for a hot day.
Marinating the chops:
In a wide shallow bowl or plate large enough to fit 2 chops, mix the chopped Mint, Rosemary, zest of Lemon, crushed Garlic, Chilli Flakes, Cinnamon, Harissa & Rapeseed Oil or Olive oil. Now turn the Chops a couple of times in the marinade and give them a bit of a pat and rub to massage the herbs and spices into the meat. Either cover and pop back in the fridge if you still have a few hours before cooking or leave out if you only have an hour before cooking.
Cooking the chops:
Ensure you remove the chops from the fridge at least 30 minutes before cooking to allow to come to room temperature. If you are having the couscous with the chops, follow steps 1 and 2 on preparing the couscous below before heating up the frying pan for the meat.
These marinated chops are suitable for grilling on the barbecue or in a grill pan as well, in which case do as you normally would when grilling. Otherwise crack out a heavy based frying pan and heat it on a high heat until properly hot, then turn down to medium just before sprinkling one side of each chop with sea salt and placing directly salt face down in the pan. Allow the first side to caramelise (about 5 minutes) before sprinkling salt on the side facing up and turning over. The second side should take about 7-10 minutes. Depending on your hob and frying pan, you may need to turn up the heat a little again if you do not notice any browning after 3 minutes or down if you notice the meat browning too quickly. You want to give the fat time to melt which is why this is not a rush job and ideally done on over a medium heat.
When both sides have a decent bit of caramelisation (you may also think of this as a crust or browning), turn the heat down to medium/low and use tongs to stand the chops on the fat side for 2 minutes or so to allow the fat to melt a little further.
Rest the meat on a plate under foil for 5 minutes while finishing off the couscous. Place the chops onto the slightly flattened pile of couscous to catch any extra meaty juices.
For the couscous:
1. Sweat the sliced red onion in small knob of butter and a small glug of oil in a frying pan over a medium-low heat until soft. This may take up to 15 or 20 minutes and can’t be rushed on a high heat as you will burn the onions. Reserve the onion in a small bowl for later.
2. Prepare the couscous either by following the instructions on the packet or cook as below:
Boil the water in a small lidded saucepan (if you do not have a lid, use foil! A lid of some kind is essential), once boiling add salt and olive oil, stir to dissolve the salt, then add the couscous, stir or give the pan a swirl to make sure the olive oil blends with the couscous, allow to come to a boil again, before replacing the lid and turning down the heat to the lowest setting for 2 minutes. Then switch off the heat completely. Allow to sit for another 3-5 minutes before removing the lid to let out the steam. Then cover with a clean, dry cloth to keep warm. The cloth will capture the steam and prevent couscous from becoming soggy.
3. While the chops rest after cooking, finish off the couscous by fluffing it with a fork. Using the same fork mix in the soft red onions, the chopped mint and parsley and finally a small knob of butter. Spread over two plates and place the chops on top of the couscous so that it can soak up the juices from the meat.
NB You can prepare the couscous a day ahead as a cold dish for a large party or barbecue. If you do, then at stage 3 fluff the couscous but add only the butter and onion before allowing the couscous to cool completely. Once cool add the chopped herbs, this will avoid them browning, then pop in the fridge and remove at the same time as the meat to avoid the couscous from being fridge-cold when serving. Re-fluff with a fork before serving.
For the marinade:
2 barnsley chops
mint, decent handful leaves chopped
rosemary, 1 large sprig, leaves only chopped
1 lemon, zest only
1- 2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tsp chilli flakes
1 large pinch cinnamon
1 large pinch dry harissa spice mix – you can use paste versions available in jars or tubes. Just avoid the use of smoked versions as the smoke can be quite over-powering.
5-6 tbsp rapeseed oil or olive oil
Flaky Sea salt for cooking
For the couscous:
1/2 medium red onion, sliced
100-150ml couscous (Use the larger quantity if eating without extra sides)
175-250ml water (Use the larger quantity for 150ml of couscous)
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp sea salt
Mint, a decent handful of chopped leaves
Flat-leaf parsley, a decent handful of chopped leaves
Butter, a small knob