Encrusted Grilled Lamb Loin Chops & Pomegranate Sauce


Sumac is an interesting spice used widely in the Middle East. My first encounter with it was when customer and friend Fred Scarpello, about 10 years ago, dropped by the restaurant after some traveling and told me about a great lamb dish he had which was spiced with sumac. He gave me some to play with, and Karen and I did so at home. We quickly fell in love with it. The spice is very tart and clean; it is not overpowering. Used with lamb, it’s a great accent, with the tartness cutting the gaminess characteristics. It’s like adding lemon juice or fresh lemon to seafood. Even though I am of Middle Eastern descent, my only experience with sumac was as a blend of other spices – a mixture called Zahtar. The real chore with sumac is finding a source. We get ours from a couple of delicatessens in New York – Zabars (www.zabars.com) and Kalustyan’s (www.kalustyans.com). For us food nuts, these two famous Middle Eastern delicatessens have a plethora of items that are impossible to find locally. They are great sources and well worth the time spent to access their various products. In this dish, I like to use a lamb loin chop or T-bone, approximately 1 1/2-to-2 inches thick, two or three per serving. My wine recommendation is a red zinfandel such as Rocking Horse, either 2002 or 2003, which would make a great match. Check with Ben’s Liquor and Aloha Wine and Spirits for their zinfandel choices. Karen and I are sure this will be a dinner to remember. As always enjoy, enjoy, enjoy!!!
Encrusted Grilled Lamb Loin Chops with Pomegranate Sauce

Course: Main Course   Cuisine: American   Prep Time: 2 hours   Cook Time: 14 Minutes   Servings: 10 to 12



• 2 T. sumac

• 2 T. fresh mint, finely chopped

• 2 T. or 4 large cloves garlic, finely chopped

• 1 teaspoon each salt and pepper, or to taste

• 1 teaspoon olive oil (does not have to be extra-virgin)


• 2 cups pomegranate juice

• 1 T. fresh lemon juice

• 2 T. unsweetened butter

• 2 T. flour

• 1/4 cup zinfandel wine (the rest is for the cooks)

• 1/2 teaspoon fresh pepper

• 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

• 1/4 cup finely shaved mint for garnish

• Mint sprigs or large leaves for plate decorations



Rub for the Lamb

  • Combine all ingredients in a bowl. This mixture will easily spice 10 to 12 lamb chops. Rub on both sides and let sit at room temperature for 2 hours.
  • When cooking the lamb chops, make sure your barbecue is hot (medium-high to high). Cook approximately 5 to 7 minutes per side (for medium-rare). Be sure to watch carefully, as the cooking time will be different for each type of barbecue. There is no way to actively control the heat on a barbecue so that it is consistent.


  • To prepare the sauce, in a medium skillet add 2 cup of pure pomegranate juice (We’ve been able to find it at the local grocery stores, so if not sure what you are looking for, ask your grocery clerk.).
  • Over medium heat, reduce juice by 50 percent then add a touch of fresh lemon juice (about 1 tablespoon) and 1/2 tablespoon fresh ground pepper. Reduce again by 50 percent. Set aside for 15 minutes.
  • In a separate pan, add 2 tablespoons unsweetened butter and melt over medium-low heat. When melted and bubbly, add 2 tablespoons of flour.
  • Mix together with a whisk until thoroughly incorporated. Add 1/4 cup of dry red wine (a red zinfandel is my pick). Mix thoroughly; it should be very pasty.
  • Slowly add the pomegranate reduction.
  • When complete, you should have a nice, silky sauce. If it seems too thick, add a little more zinfandel to the mixture. At the very end, add salt and pepper to taste and 1 flat teaspoon of Sumac. Simmer for approximately 10 minutes, and it’s done.
  • Set aside until needed.
  • If you make the sauce well in advance and need to reheat, do so over very low heat. I like to garnish the chops at the end with finely shaved fresh mint, pine nuts and maybe a sprig of mint leaves.
By Charlie Abowd