|What is a sultry food? The answer is often red meat.|
What is a sultry food? I surveyed my friends and some answered quite literally with anatomy-shaped boob cupcakes and the physical suggestion of slurping raw oysters. Others noted heart-shaped ravioli to send home the emotion of Valentine’s Day. Strawberries were of course mentioned, though since they’re out of season I was happy to also get a recommendation for sexy red and shiny winter pomegranates. Chocolate and chili peppers will spice up my dessert recommendation (coming soon) and the main course is the most often repeated sexy food: red meat.
|Red, shiny and firm. Pomegranates are one sexy fruit available in the winter.|
What makes red meat so sexy? As one friend noted, with red meat “you can get in the food and get a bit carnal.” The texture of meat suggests human flesh and racy innuendos of intimate grasps. Even with a burger, you can be messy and uninhibited, replacing table etiquette for a more sensual experience. Roasts and braises of affordable cuts could work for Valentine’s Day, but since it’s on a work day this year, faster options are steak and chops. Splurge with meaty, grass-fed lamb loin chops, about $18 a pound, and save without the restaurant markup on wine.
If I need to convince you to cook Valentine’s Day dinner at home, just remember the last time you saw a couple getting a little too frisky in a restaurant or gave a cab driver an extra show with your fare. At home you can sit on the same side of the banquette, pouring wine freely; it’s affection without the public display. Take note of the physical set-up. Most Western-style dining, with separate plates and separate orders, creates borders between people, limiting the intimacy for polite, public settings. Lose all of that an enjoy tapas or family-style dining from a shared platter.
This dish fits all of the above qualifications. The thick-cut chops are easy to sear without overcooking. The pomegranate sauce is a simple, but impressive complement while the garnish of seeds adds an alluring burst and crunch. Bone-in chops are more flavorful and once you have cut most of the meat away, you can get animalistic, biting the last bits from the bone. Mint adds color and references the traditional mint sauce served with lamb. All around – this is the dish to make on Friday.
|The burst and crunch of pomegranate seeds have a sensuous allure.|
Seared Lamb Chops with Pomegranate Reduction
4 lamb loin chops, 1.5″ thick with bones
2 teaspoons fennel seed
2 large pomegranates
1/2 teaspoon sugar
3 tablespoons olive oil, plus oil for pan
Fresh mint, for garnishing
Season lamb chops with salt, pepper and fennel seed. Allow to rest at room temperature for at least 40 minutes. (Don’t cut all of the fat away – it’s delicious, indulge yourself.)
Deseed the pomegranates and put aside about 1/4 cup for garnish. Use your fist, a masher, or a blender to extract the juice from the seeds then press through a fine mesh seive. In a small sauce pan, bring pomegranate juice to a boil then reduce heat to a simmer and cook, stirring occassionally, until reduced to half volume. Remove from heat and stir in sugar and whisk in olive oil.
Heat olive oil in a heavy skillet or grill pan over medium-high until it begins to smoke. Cook lamb chops for about 2-4 minutes per side – more rare is good. Remove lamb from pan and allow to rest for 5-10 minutes. Drizzle chops with pomegranate reduction and garnish with remaining pomegranate seeds and chopped fresh mint.
|Loin chops are a little less pretty than rib chops, but they have thicker meat.|
|You could use a machine for this, but pounding by hand is so much more fun!|
|Get carnal this Valentine’s Day!|