Friday, July 16, 2010

Lamb Chops with Lemon Thyme Couscous and Cherry Plum Reduction

When I was a small child, I dreamed of becoming a clasically trained chef. But after watching countless reruns of Jacques Pepin, Emeril Lagasse and Julia Child, I learned that many, if not most dishes, are composed of hardly-healthy ingredients. The food tastes wonderfully, of course. But for the health conscious chef and diner, these delectable dishes are not generally an option. Luckily, you can cook equally delicious meals at home, minus the extra fat and calories. There’s no need to skimp on flavor and quality when you’re watching your weight, and you don’t need to cover your protein in butter or cream based sauces. With a little creativity, you can eat just as well as the Chefs of France, in your very own home.

My newest recipe is inspired by the concept of ‘High end-low calorie’ food. Lamb Chops with Lemon Thyme Cousous and a Cherry and Plum Reduction. The lamb chops are broiled instead of braised to cut back on fat. The couscous is whole wheat instead of nutritionally-deficient regular couscous, to offer more fiber and nutrients. The cherry and plum reduction is made of just three ingredients, and is sweetened and thickened by the fruits’ natural sugars. The lamb is rich and perfectly seasoned, the couscous is light and fragrant, and the Cherry-Plum reduction is a touch tart balanced with natural sweetness. Homemade, healthy food that you would expect to find on a pricey restaurant menu. Top Chef here I come!

Lamb Chops with Lemon-Thyme Couscous and Cherry-Plum Reduction

2 Small lamb Chops (With bone, about ½ pound)
1/3 cup Whole Wheat dry couscous
1/3 cup reduced-sodium, fat free chicken broth
8 bing cherries, pitted, quartered
1 plum, chopped into ¼ inch pieces
½ tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 medium clove garlic, minced
1 lemon
Black pepper
Cooking spray (or olive oil spray)

1. Season the lamb chops generously with salt, pepper and thyme. Set aside.
2. In a small sauce pan, heat a small spritz of cooking spray over low heat. Cook garlic until slightly tender and translucent, about 2 minutes. Add chicken broth, black pepper to taste, and about 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme. Bring to a boil, stir in couscous, a squeeze of lemon juice, and about 1/2 teaspoon lemon zest. Remove from heat, cover and set aside.
3. In a separate small sauce pan, cook the chopped plum over low heat. Use a fork or potato masher to slightly mash the plum. Cook for about 4 minutes, or until the plum juice starts to thicken. Stir in the cherries and continue to cook over low heat.
4. Meanwhile, heat the broiler on medium, or about 500 degrees. Place the lamb in a lightly greased, oven safe skillet, and cook for a total of 12 minutes, turning halfway through.
5. Finally, add a pinch of black pepper and balsamic vinegar to the fruit reduction, and cook until reduced to a thick sauce.
6. Let lamb rest for 2-3 minutes before plating. Plate couscous first in a small mound and spoon the cherry-plum reduction on the rest of the plate. Place lamb chops on top of sauce, leaned against couscous. Enjoy!

Nutrition: Calories: 425 Fat: 8.6 g Cholesterol: 85.1 mg Sodium: 405.3 mg Carbs: 54.9 g Fiber: 3.9 g Protein: 34.4 g

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