What’s in the bag? Part 1

I admit it. It was Sunday, I couldn’t decide on dinner and I was slightly bored. My dear friendster Cindy had given us a gift card to Whole Foods when we got married (we’re still newlyweds!) and so I thought this would be a perfect opportunity to make use of those plastic dollars.

I cozied up to hubby, batted my eyelashes and said, in my most sultry voice: ‘Let’s play a game. You go to the store with this money and buy anything you want and I’ll cook it. I get no input. I’ll cook whatever you bring, even if I’ve never tried it before’.

Yes, I was feeling brave and daring. I imagined myself a contestant in my show: a cross between the Next Food Network Star, Chopped and Top Chef.  When he wasn’t back almost an hour later, I began to worry. Then he showed up with 2 HUGE bags from WF…! yeah, it was time to panic.

He produced lamb chops (virgin territory), pears, long-stemmed artichokes (never seen those before), potatoes, NY strips, ciabatta bread YUM! bok choy, pasta, and some other goodies. Definitely more than one meal. I paced, drank wine, paced some more and finally came up with a menu!

I would try my hand at the lamb chops and I would serve them over pasta with a Putanesca-ish sauce. I would also try making a pear tart. The deal was I had to do as much as possible without looking for recipes. I was able to do so except for the tart; baking is, after all, science. Here’s how the chops went down.

Arent they beautiful?

Aren't they beautiful?

Grilled Lamb Chops
1 lb of lamb chops (whole)
3 tbsp olive oil
2 tsp sea salt
1 tsp pepper
2 garlic cloves, crushed
First we scored the fatty side of the rack, then we marinated it.
Marinate: Then I threw the rest of the ingredients into a Ziploc bag, got the salt incorporated and added the chops. I let them hang out there for about 2 hours, turning them every so often.

Preheat oven to 375
Cook: In a very hot oven proof skillet, heat up some olive oil and place the rack fatty side down. You want to sear it about 3 minutes on each side (be sure not to burn it). Keep turning until you get all sides browned, then turn it so the fatty side is on top, and put it in the preheated oven for another 15-20 minutes depending on how you prefer to cook it.

After searing before hitting the oven

After searing before hitting the oven

Salsa Putanesca-ish
3 slices of bacon, cubed
1 white onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
8 crimini mushrooms, diced
1/4 cp Italian parsley, chopped
3 Roma tomatoes, diced
1 can roasted tomatoes
1/2 cp assorted olives, chopped
2 tsp anchovy paste
2 cp good beer
salt & pepper to taste

Saute the bacon to render some of the fat, but keep it soft. Add onions and cook until translucent; then add garlic and mushrooms. Once the mushrooms begin to soften, add the tomatoes, parsley and olives, stir in. Then add the anchovy paste and beer, bring it to a boil then reduce the heat to a simmer. Allow the flavors to cook in for about 30-45 minutes, stirring constantly. You may not need to add salt, but check at the end of the cooking time and adjust seasoning.

Serve: Remove chops from oven and allow to rest for about 10 minutes before slicing. In the meantime, cook, drain and serve your pasta onto a plate. Top with sauce and place a few chops over that, sprinkle with fresh parsley if desired.

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