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As I've already professed, I love lamb even on its own—that richly flavored meat and luscious fat is a treat enough for me. I confess, though, presented with a good mint sauce with my lamb, I'm all over it. This complementary pairing is so ingrained in our collective palates, it's nearly impossible to resist. (Lore says this is thanks to England's Queen Elizabeth I's decree that lamb and mutton should only be eaten with bitter herbs in an effort to deter consumption and help the wool trade—but it backfired when mint only made the meat taste even better). So when I grilled a bunch of lamb chops recently, it seemed fitting to whip up a batch of mint sauce as an accompaniment.
As it was a particularly hot day when I made this, I felt the sauce should cool as well as enhance flavor, which led me to the decision to go the yogurt route. A cup of thick and tangy Greek yogurt was mixed with a half a cup of chopped mint to form the base. Then garlic, lemon, cumin, cayenne, salt, and pepper were added to give it some extra notes underneath the two dominant flavors. Served with the lamb, this sauce was fantastic.
The yogurt did its job of providing a coolness to a hot dish eaten on a scorching day, while the mint cut through some of the heaviness of the lamb and delivered a more tempered flavor without diminishing the natural lamb-iness. The freshness of mint was enhanced by the lemon, which made the dish seem altogether more seasonally appropriate. I ate one chop sans-sauce to get my naked lamb fill, but once I dipped my first piece of my second chop in this sauce, I couldn't have another bite without it.
About the author: Joshua Bousel brings you new, tasty condiment each Wednesday and a recipe for weekend grilling every Friday. He also writes about grilling and barbecue on his blog The Meatwave whenever he can be pulled away from his grill.