Here it is folks! This is the dish I prepared for the the lamb challenge on Episode 3 of MasterChef Season 4 on FOX. When we were waiting to go in to meet with the judges and found out our challenge, the smells that come with fresh livestock came wafting in to my nose. I looked around to see if any of the other contestants noticed and it seemed many did not. We were all anxious and excited to find out what our challenge would be and for a moment I had a flash of panic, thinking “what if we have to slaughter something?!” After a few minutes, which felt like hours, we were brought in to the judges to find out what we would be doing. When I first saw the sweet little lamb that Gordon Ramsay held in his arms, my heart dropped.
Then, the rest of the herd was let in and our challenge was announced. We could create any dish with lamb as the star ingredient and we had our pick of any and all parts of the animal. In addition, we had the privilege of using the fully-stocked MasterChef pantry. I had to shake the feeling of being sad for the little lamb and keep my head in the game!
I got the inspiration for this dish from a recipe in Matthew Kenney’s “Big City Cooking”. One of my dearest friends, Katie, gave the book to me as a gift years ago – before I discovered my passion for cooking. It’s a lovely book and back then I found it quite intimidating as many of the ingredients were unfamiliar to me at the time and the preparations are so elegant. I used to flip through it and think, “one day…” Now I can really dig into it. Thanks, Katie!
Time: 15 minutes + marinating Serves: 4
- 2 cups 0% plain Greek yogurt
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1/4 cup honey
- 1/4 cup + 1 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1/2 cup tahini
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- 3/4 tsp cayenne pepper
- 1 tsp salt
- freshly ground black pepper
- 2 boneless lamb loins – about 10 oz each – cut crosswise into pieces 1-inch thick
- mint leaves, for garnish
How to make it
- In a large non-reactive bowl, combine yogurt, oil, honey, lemon juice, tahini, cumin, cayenne, and salt. Whisk together to incorporate.
- Add lamb loin to marinade and cover. Refrigerate for 3-6 hours or let set on the counter for about 40 minutes before grilling.
- Preheat grill or grill pan over medium-high heat.
- Thread lamb onto metal or wooden skewers (if using wood, be sure to soak in water for 10 minutes so they don’t burn). Reserve marinade.
- Place skewers on hot grill/grill pan and cook, turning occasionally, until desired doneness – I go 5-6 minutes for medium-rare.
- Let rest for 5 minutes before serving. Garnish with mint leaves.
As we were cooking, the judges came around to talk to us, see what we were up to, and in some cases take a taste. Gordon Ramsay came to my station and asked me what I was preparing. After I described it to him, he stuck his index finger in the bowl of marinade, lamb and all, stuck it in his mouth and proclaimed, “It’s
fucking delicious!” I may have been sent home on this challenge but this was a great affirmation! I know I think it’s delicious, but to know Gordon Ramsay does too… That’s saying something! Check me out doing my thing in the second row from the bottom on the left.
The marinade may not look like much, but it does great things! The yogurt tenderizes the meat, while the lemon tames the lamb’s robust flavor.
The lamb is served over a Moroccan Cucumber Mint Salad which provides a wonderful textural contrast and freshness. Recipe coming soon.
The dish is also served with Harissa…
…and Honey Cumin Yogurt.
It also pairs perfectly with Moroccan Carrots.