While lamb and Pinot Noir are commonly paired, this preparation of lamb, with its use of earthy, pungent, hot and sweet spices, tastes best with a more assertive red. Ample tannins and some body, in the form of alcohol, are needed to handle the smoky, charred effects of grilling. Serve the chops with couscous and sautéed beets and carrots glazed with butter, orange juice and zest and a hint of mint. Dependable: spicy Syrah blend or Zinfandel. Daring: Californian or Australian Grenache-based rosé.
1/2 cup chopped fresh mint, plus more for garnish (optional)
1 Tbs. ground coriander
2 tsp. finely minced garlic
1 tsp. sweet paprika
1 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
Salt, to taste
Juice of 1 lemon
2 Tbs. olive oil
8 loin lamb chops or 16 small rib chops
In a small bowl, stir together the 1/2 cup mint, the coriander, garlic, paprika, cumin, black pepper, cayenne pepper, salt, lemon juice and olive oil. Rub the mixture into the chops, coating evenly, and place in a nonaluminum container. Cover and marinate at cool room temperature for 2 hours or up to overnight in the refrigerator.
Prepare a fire in a grill. If the chops are refrigerated, bring to room temperature.
Place the chops on an oiled grill rack and grill, turning once, for 4 minutes per side for medium-rare, or until done to your liking.
Transfer to a warmed platter or individual plates and sprinkle with mint, if using. Serve immediately.
Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Lifestyles Series, Food & Wine Pairing, by Joyce Goldstein (Time-Life Books, 1999).