Sunday, March 4, 2012

Lamb Steaks with a little smoke for #SundaySupper

I know there are some die-hards who fire up their grills all winter long - but I'm not one of them. When there's snow on the ground, you'll find me cooking indoors, where it's warm and toasty. But once in a while I like to have a whiff of smokey flavor in my food. What's a cook to do?

Of course, there's that liquid substance that has smoke flavor, and I know some people like it. But for some reason, I've never been fond of it. Frankly, if someone uses too much of it, it gives me a headache.

On the other hand, I've never had a problem with smoked foods. Or barbecued or grilled or otherwise smoke-flavored. And a great way to add a little smokiness is with smoked salt. You use it like regular salt, and it adds that hint of smoky flavor along with the saltiness.

And unlike some people's heavy-handed over-used of the liquid product, you're pretty unlikely to go overboard with smoked salt - because after all, it's salt. Your taste for saltiness will keep you from turning your meal into a taste replica of the bottom of the fire pit.

In this case I used lamb, but smoked salt is great on chicken, steak, pork, burgers ... if you would think about cooking it on a grill, it will work with this salt. And before you look too closely at my lamb steak and wonder what cut it really is, this isn't a typical supermarket cut - I buy my lamb from a farmer, so I get some pieces that don't look like what you'd buy at the store.

This time around, I used Applewood Smoked Salt from Salts of the 7 Seas.

Lamb Steaks with Smoked Salt

4 lamb steaks (or chops)
Applewood Smoked Salt
Pepper, to taste
Oil, for cooking

About 30 minutes before cooking, remove the lamb from the refrigerator and salt and pepper both sides, to taste.

Heat a cast iron frying pan on medium-high heat and add about a tablespoon of high-heat cooking oil. When the oil shimmers and you see the first wisp of smoke, carefully place the lamb in the pan. Let it cook on the first side until it is nicely browned.

Flip the meat over and cook on the second side until it is nicely browned. Turn the heat down to medium and cook, turning as needed, until the meat is cooked to your liking. With thin pieces of meat, it may be done as soon as the second side is browned, if you prefer your meat on the rare side. Keep in mind that the meat will continue cooking for a short time after it has been removed from the heat.

Let the meat rest for about 5 minutes before serving.

To carry the smokey theme a little further, used the smoked salt as a finishing salt on your vegetables, soup, salad ... where ever you think a little smoke flavor would be appropriate.

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