Why It Works
- Fresh mint and cool yogurt complement rich, full-flavored lamb.
- Garlic, cumin, and lemon juice balance the sauce's flavors.
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. But when 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 ancient: the Babylonians feasted on lamb with mint. The combo's been nearly impossible to resist ever since. Lore says England's Queen Elizabeth I issued a 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. 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 go the yogurt route. A cup of thick and tangy Greek yogurt mixed with a half a cup of chopped mint forms the base. Then garlic, lemon, cumin, cayenne, salt, and pepper are added to give it some extra notes underneath the dominant flavors. Served with lamb, this sauce is 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 my second chop in this sauce, I couldn't have another bite without it.
1 cup Greek yogurt
1/2 cup finely chopped mint leaves
2 medium cloves garlic, minced (about 2 teaspoons)
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice from 1 lemon
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Place yogurt, mint, garlic, lemon juice, cumin, and cayenne in a small bowl and stir to combine. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Let sit for 30 minutes, then serve or transfer to an airtight container and store in refrigerator for up to a week.
|Nutrition Facts (per serving)|
|Amount per serving|
|% Daily Value*|
|Total Fat 0g||0%|
|Saturated Fat 0g||0%|
|Total Carbohydrate 2g||1%|
|Dietary Fiber 0g||1%|
|Total Sugars 1g|
|Vitamin C 1mg||6%|
|*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.|