For anyone who follows the British craft beer scene, Cloudwater needs no introduction. The Manchester-based brewery’s releases are as coveted as H&M’s designer capsule collections, and snapped up almost as quickly. Cloudwater even markets their beers like fashion, with the arty, one-off labels to match.
Hence their new ‘Spring/Summer’ release: the practically perfect IPA Citra, which pours the colour of a ripe peach. Juicy, resinous, brightly sweet but girded with bitterness, it’s a beautiful expression of all that this most tropical of hops can do.
If you’re drinking a fresh, zingy beer like this one, you'd better be serving it with some seasonal grub, too. Happy spring: it’s time to put lamb back on the menu. Even better, we’re now in that several-week window each year when wild garlic is in season, and trust me, this is one harvest you do not want to sleep on. Like an extra-piquant version of spring onions, wild garlic – aka ramps – adds an alliumy oomph to this chimichurri.
Lamb is one of those foods that works well with a number of different beer styles: stouts and porters if you want to bring out its roastiness, Belgian dubbels to highlight its sweetness, easy-drinking ambers as all-rounders. But an IPA like Cloudwater’s really shines here. Its hoppiness helps cut through the fatty richness of the chops, and its sweetness and full body can really stand up to the meat’s depth of flavour (not to mention the intense pungency of that wild garlic).
A quick note: lamb loin chops aren’t the same as the tomahawk-shaped rib chops that so many of us are familiar with, but they’re just as tender – and more generously proportioned, besides. This quick-cooking cut is circumferenced by a beautiful band of fat (which you’d be misguided to remove) and bisected by a little T-bone. In fact, think of these chops as the lamb equivalent of a T-bone steak, except, well, miniature. If you’re eating these as a main with a few sides, allow at least two per person; if you’re greedy like me, go for three.
Lamb Loin Chops with Wild Garlic Chimichurri
For the wild garlic chimichurri:
1 bunch (approx. 50g) wild garlic leaves
3 tbs extra virgin olive oil
Zest of one lemon Juice of ½ lemon
Approx. 1 tsp flaky sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 tsp caster sugar
For the lamb:
4 lamb loin chops
Flaky sea salt, to taste
Black pepper, to taste
First, make the chimichurri: add all ingredients to a food processor and whizz up until the mixture is well blended and looks pesto-esque (you may need to wipe down the sides and give it a few goes to get all the leafy bits incorporated). Taste and adjust seasoning if needed. Set aside.
About an hour before you want to cook your lamb, remove your chops from the fridge. Season generously with salt and pepper on both sides, and allow to come to room temperature.
Add 1-2 tbs olive oil to a cast-iron (or other heavy-bottomed) frying pan, and heat until very hot. Add the four loins and allow to cook for four minutes without moving or flipping, or until the lamb has developed a nice brown crust. Flip and cook for 3-4 minutes more, depending on how well done you like your lamb. Remove from the heat and leave to rest for 10 minutes before serving.
When serving, top your lamb with generous glops of the chimichurri (you will likely have some left over). Garnish with a wild garlic leaf or two. Finally, make sure that everyone else in the vicinity has also eaten the dish; your garlic breath will be bordering on the flammable afterwards.
Claire M. Bullen is a professional food and travel writer, a beerhound and all-around lover of tasty things. When she's not cracking open a cold one, she's probably cooking up roasted lamb with hummus. Or chicken laksa. Or pumpkin bread. You can follow her at @clairembullen.