The Meat of the Matter: Kosher Meat Tips from Naf Hanau, Grow and Behold Foods
Naftali Hanau grew up around the corner from the kosher butcher, and has loved meat from a young age. He eventually learned shechita and founded our favorite kosher meat company, Grow and Behold Foods, which sells delicious OU Glatt kosher pastured meat to customers all over the USA. Naf joins us here at JOY of KOSHER with Jamie Geller every month to break down various cuts of meat, serve up his secret recipes and answer your "meaty" questions. Post comments below, or contact Naf directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
-------------------------A Q&A WITH NAF HANAU-------------------------
Q: I am never sure when my lamb chops are done. They end up being too raw, or way over-cooked. Help!
A: Ah, the lamb chop. A truly delightful meat (and we do insist you use your hands, there is way too much good meat on those bones that you’ll miss with a knife and fork). But how to cook them so you get a crisp sear, perfectly tender insides, and gently softened fat?
First, you need to know what kind of chops you’re dealing with:
Larger Chops, such as “rainbow” or “shoulder” chops, can be seared on the stove top, then finished in the oven at 400°F.
Smaller Lamb Chops, called “baby”, “first cut”, or “rib chops,” can be seared on the stove or grill, no oven required.
Here’s the technique:
For larger chops, preheat oven to 400°F.
Heat a generous amount of grapeseed or sunflower seed oil in a heavy cast iron or stainless steel pan over medium-high heat, large enough to hold the chops comfortably. When the oil is shimmering, carefully arrange the chops in the pan. Monitor the flame to prevent burning, but don't touch the chops for at least 4 minutes. After 4 minutes, gently use your tongs to try to lift a chop. If it doesn’t lift easily, it’s not ready to flip. Once the chops lift cleanly and easily from the pan, they will have developed a beautiful and uniform crust, and should be flipped. This takes 4-7 minutes, depending on the pan and the stove.
To finish on the stove (for lamb chops, and larger rainbow or shoulder chops cooked to rare): Flip to second side. Cook another 4-7 minutes until the crust has developed and the chops pull easily without sticking.
To finish in the oven (for medium-rare, or chas v’shalom medium or medium-well large chops): Flip to second side, and keep pan on heat for about 1 minute. After 1 minute, move pan into pre-heated oven to finish cooking. Large chops should get to medium-rare in about 5 minutes. After 5 minutes, remove pan from oven (use oven mitts!) and transfer to stove. Check for doneness (see below). Remove from pan to plate or cutting board to rest, tented lightly with foil, for 3-4 minutes before serving.
How do I know when it’s done?
For most large pieces of meat, a meat thermometer is your best friend. However, with steaks and chops, we don’t recommend poking, since it’s hard to find the right place to test, you risk losing flavorful juices, and it’s not necessary: You have the perfect gauge on your own hand!
Here’s how to FEEL when your steak or chop is done to your liking: Gently touch your index finger to your thumb, and with your other hand, press the meaty part of your palm at the base of your thumb. That is what rare feels like. Now touch your middle finger to your thumb. That’s medium-rare. Your ring finger is medium, and your pinky is well done. You can quickly (and carefully) press your chops to gauge for your desired doneness. If you are worried about getting burned, dip your finger in cold water first.
What’s your favorite way to cook lamb? Leave a comment below!
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