Lollipops For Pops on Father’s Day

Lollipops of a different sort for Father's Day.
Lollipops of a different sort for Father’s Day.

My dad was a sucker for See’s Candies of any kind or shape.

For Father’s Day, we’d often present him with a big See’s box, which he’d tear into eagerly — even way before dinner.

I have a hunch, though, that my dad would have also gone gangbusters over these lollipops of a different sort.

That’s because he also loved lamb. Most often, he’d turn cubes into stew with loads of carrots, celery, onions, and potatoes cut into large chunks to stretch out the meal for our family of five.

A lamb rib rack, with its higher price tag, wasn’t something he’d pick up at the store. But when I cooked up these “Vindaloo-Spiced Lamb Lollipops,” I couldn’t help picturing him smacking his lips over them.

Smoky from the grill, juicy and tender from a vibrant marinade, they’re redolent of cumin, one of the staple spices in the curry lamb stew he’d often make in winter.

This aromatic and complex tasting dish comes from the cookbook, “Chiles and Smoke” (Quartz Publishing Group/Harvard Common Press), of which I received a review copy.

It’s by pit master Brad Prose, founder of the recipe site Chiles and Smoke. As the name implies, the book is all about grilling recipes featuring an array of chiles. That doesn’t mean necessarily mean they will scorch your palate. The chiles are used judiciously. Plus, you can always decrease the amount used, if you like.

There are more than 65 mouthwatering recipes, such as “Guajillo Ketchup,” “Gochujang Chili Con Carne,” “Hatch Chile Smoked Shrimp Skillet,” and “Chile Verde Baby Back Ribs.”

For these lamb lollipops, toast cumin seeds, coriander seeds, peppercorns, cloves, and chile de arbol peppers in a frying pan, then blitz in a blender with brown sugar, paprika, cinnamon, garlic, ginger, distilled white vinegar and water.

Toast the spices to bring out their aromatics.
Toast the spices to bring out their aromatics.

Let the lamb rib chops marinate in this mixture in the fridge for a few hours before grilling them.

When they’re cooked to a perfect medium-rare, drizzle with a simple creamy sauce made with coconut milk, Greek yogurt, scallions, cilantro, mint, lemon juice, jalapenos, and a pinch of sugar.

The petite chops are hard to resist.
The petite chops are hard to resist.

It all makes for an impressive looking lamb dish that you’ll definitely want to pick up with your fingers at some point to get every last bit of succulent meat off the bone. The sauce is bright tasting and cooling, with a touch of grassiness from the jalapenos. There’s a moderate amount of heat to this dish, with the chiles rounding everything out with delicious warmth rather than setting your mouth ablaze.

The recipe makes a generous amount of sauce, more than you’ll probably need for the lamb. Use the rest drizzled over grilled veggies or a crisp green salad.

As for dessert, there can be only one perfect finale — a See’s chocolate lollipop. My dad would highly approve.

One rack will serve 2 to 4, depending on how large the appetite.
One rack will serve 2 to 4, depending on how large the appetite.

Vindaloo-Spiced Lamb Lollipops

(Makes 7 to 8 lamb lollipops)

For vindaloo marinade:

2 teaspoons cumin seeds

2 teaspoons coriander seeds

1 tablespoon black peppercorns

4 whole cloves

8 to 10 dried chile de arbol peppers (adjust for heat level)

1 teaspoon paprika

1 teaspoon brown sugar

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

8 garlic cloves, peeled

2 tablespoons chopped fresh ginger

1/4 cup distilled white vinegar

1 cup water

For the lamb:

1 Frenched lamb rib rack, with 7 to 8 ribs each

1/2 tablespoon kosher salt

For coconut herb yogurt sauce:

2 jalapeno peppers, chopped, seeds optional

4 scallions, chopped

1 cup chopped fresh cilantro

1 cup chopped fresh mint

1/2 cup coconut milk

1/2 cup Greek yogurt

1 teaspoon white sugar

Juice of 1 lemon

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more as needed

Prepare the marinade by preheating a skillet over medium heat. Toast the cumin seeds, coriander seeds, black peppercorns, cloves, and dried chile de arbol peppers for 2 to 3 minutes until they are aromatic. Make sure to stir the spices and chiles so they do not burn. Transfer the spices and the rest of the ingredients for the marinade to a high-speed blender and puree until smooth.

Slice the lamb ribs between the bones into individual lollipops, which should give you 7 to 8 of them depending on the rack. Lightly salt each side of the lamb and place in a resealable container. Pour the cooled marinade into the container, rubbing the lollipops to make sure each is fully coated with the sauce. Allow to marinate in the fridge for at least 4 to 6 hours.

Prepare the yogurt sauce. Place the jalapeno peppers, scallions, and the herbs into a food processor. Blitz until the ingredients form a smooth paste, adding a splash of water if needed. In a small bowl, mix the coconut milk and yogurt together and stir in the jalapeno paste, sugar, lemon juice, and salt. Adjust with additional salt as needed. Place in the fridge until ready to use.

Preheat the grill for direct cooking at high heat, 450 to 500 degrees. Clean the grill grates and oil them as needed. Remove the lamb from the marinade and brush off any excess. Allow the lamb to rest at room temperature while the grill is preheating.

Place the lamb directly over the coals and press down with tongs. Allow the lamb to sear for 5 minutes to build a quick crust without overcooking. Flip and cook for another 4 to 5 minutes, building up another side of grill marks. make sure the fat cap on the outside is seared well, which will create a delicious crispy bite. For medium-rare, remove the lamb when it hits about 130 degrees.

Let the meat rest for 5 minutes. Grab a lamb lollipop and serve with the herbaceous coconut herb yogurt sauce.

From “Chiles and Smoke” by Brad Prose

More Lamb Recipes to Grill: Lamb and Aubergine Kebabs

And: Lamb Shoulder Steak with Japanese Curry Oil

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  • I’m so honored that you made this dish! Thank you for the kind words and heartwarming story about your father

  • Hi Brad: You’re very welcome! It was a delicious dish that very much reminded me of my dad. Congrats on the cookbook. I can’t wait to cook more from it.

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