This summer our lives have been lived outside even more than usual. The beautiful old farmhouse we live in turned out to need some major renovations, and last spring we decided to set up camp in a small, sweet pasture.

Our family cow in front of our tent

Outdoor living has outdoor cooking perks

The past few months have been full of toothbrushing while star gazing, cricket and frog nighttime concerts, sleeping with the sounds of the rain and simplifying what we own and use. And it has been a time of healthy adapting; to the limited use of water, sharing 384sq/ft (plus all the outside space we need) with the four of us, and cooking on fire.

Now cooking over a fire is something that gives me all the summer feels. Long days of physical work make my body crave highly nutricious, flavorful, nourishing meat like rib or loin chops, and let that be the perfect cut to cook over a fire.

Goat / Lamb Loin Chops

We use this recipe for both lamb or goat chops, both equally satisfying, though the goat chops tend to be smaller and will cook a little quicker. We also use rib chops instead of loin chops whenever we feel like it. Keep that thermometer near by!

Ingredients:

1.5 lbs loin chops
Lard/olive oil
4 cloves of garlic
1 tbsp chopped fresh rosemary
0.5 tbsp chopped fresh thyme
1 tbsp chopped fresh dill
1 tsp grated lemon zest
salt & pepper

8-24hrs before cooking up the chops, mix all the ingredients in a deep dish and refrigerate. Turn the chops occasionally, making sure that everything gets covered well.

Take the dish out of the fridge to warm up to room temperature. Get your fire nice and hot, or prepare your charcoal. In case of a gass grill, heat it to 550F. Transfer the chops to the grate (or on the sizzling hot skillet) and grill them for 3 minutes without disturbance, turn them over, and keep grilling until the inside is 140F for a medium/rare perfect chop.

In case you rather cook this inside, you can cook the chops on a searingly hot cast-iron skillet too instead of the grill, or instead cook them under a hot broil in your oven. Follow the same temperature guidelines.

Walnut / Mint Pesto

For an alternative flavor I don’t marinate the chops, but just brush them with some olive oil, and sprinkle on some pepper and salt. I cook them in the same way over the fire and in the meanwhile mix up some pesto with the following ingredients:

3 tablespoons walnuts
1 cup fresh mint leaves
1 cup fresh parsley
1/4 cup cheese (I use what I have, a fresh farmer cheese, feta, parmasan..)
1 clove garlic
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup olive oil

I roast the walnuts in a few minutes in a skillet over the fire (or on the stove), then puree the nuts, mint, parsley, cheese, garlic and salt. In a food processor, puree the nuts, mint, parsley, cheese, olive oil, garlic and salt. I spread the pesto over the chops right before eating.

We serve it with a fresh salad from the garden (fennel, baby leaves, tomatoes and a mixture of herbs). I toast some slices of bread over the fire and rub a garlic clove on, add some olive oil, a slice of tomato and some salt.

Wishing you plenty of outdoor cooking summer nights!