April 1, 2010

Holy Thursday and Grilled Lamb Chops

Holy Thursday and Grilled Lamb Chops

**The following is an article & recipe that was first published at iibloom.com.**

We are approaching the end of Lent, which ends with the beginning of the Easter Triduum, the three days celebrating the great events of our salvation: Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and Holy Saturday. These three days, during which we commemorate the Passion and Resurrection of Jesus the Christ, are the culmination of the entire liturgical year.

Holy Thursday commemorates the Last Supper, and Jesus’ institution of the Eucharist. My wife Char, and our children, and I love the Easter Triduum, and Holy Thursday sets the tone for us. We strive to celebrate the events of those three days not only through the liturgical celebrations at church, but also in our prayers and actions at home in our “domestic church.”

Holy Thursday is always a special treat. Char’s family is Lebanese, so we love Greek and Lebanese cuisine, including lamb. For us Holy Thursday is a celebration, a feast. We plan our supper so that we can arrive in time at church for the 7:00 PM Mass of the Last Supper. And what a meal we have!

Our Holy Thursday menu consists of grilled lamb chops, roasted potatoes, spinach, pita, a Romaine salad, and wine. Absolutely splendid! We come to the table in our Sunday best. We set the table with our best china and silver, and crystal goblets for the wine. We all sit together, and I lead the family in prayer. Before we serve the plates, I read the story of the Passover from the Book of Exodus. There is a sense of solemnity in our dining room, and we recognize that God is with us.

The meal is delicious, the lamb so tender (you can find the recipe below). There is also something miraculous about that supper: our children actually behave! Last year they were 7, 8, and 9. Good behavior at the table is something that we long to have at our house, but it always seems so elusive. On Holy Thursday, however, it pays us a visit. I don’t know whether it is the “dressing up” that gives them the sense of “hey, this is important,” or whether it is God’s grace. It’s probably both. Either way it makes mom and dad very happy.

Once the meal is done, in good Israelite-Passover fashion, we leave the dishes on the table and rush (with our loins girt!) to make it to church on time. The solemnity of the Mass, with its readings and its rite of washing feet, reinforces for us the fact that our family is part of a bigger family, the Family of God. Not only do we need to nourish ourselves daily with food on our kitchen table (and good food!), we also need to nourish ourselves with the best food, which is found on God’s table. Our little family gathering daily around the kitchen table is an image of the Family of God gathering around the altar during Mass. And that is a beautiful thing.

As Holy Thursday approaches we are making our preparations. In fact, we have already bought the lamb. I am planning a way for our children to join me in the kitchen to help prepare the meal this year. And I can’t wait!

This is how we enter into celebrating the most holy mysteries of our Faith. How do you celebrate the Easter Triduum?

Grilled Lamb Chops

Ingredients

  • 6 to 8 lamb chops
  • Dry Greek seasoning (oregano, rosemary, thyme, black pepper, red pepper flakes)
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • Coarse ground Kosher Salt
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Directions

  1. Remove lamb chops from packaging, rinse with cold water, then pat dry with paper towels. Place in a pan to marinate.
  2. Coat each side of the lamb chops with olive oil.
  3. Sprinkle both sides of the lamb chops with salt (to taste) and a generous amount of the Greek seasoning. Rub it in.
  4. Crush 4 or 5 cloves of garlic, and sprinkle it on and around the chops.
  5. Cover the dish and put in the refrigerator to marinate. Marinate for a few hours (but at least 1 hour).
  6. When you are ready to cook, remove the lamb from the fridge and allow to come to room temperature, about 20 to 30 minutes. Heat the grill to 425 to 450. When heated, lay the lamb chops out on the grill. Grill them for 3 or 4 minutes on each side (depending on how cooked you prefer your lamb).