Fire it up: Grilled lamb pops with verjus and dijon mint sauce

What happens when you throw a get together and your guest list suddenly double in size? That’s exactly what ensued when we hosted a backyard party at our place this past summer. Luckily, we had plenty of food and libations to go around, but I remembered these beautiful lamb racks I had in the fridge so I left the crowd and quickly dusted some rub to the lamb with a pre-made blend and on the grill they went. I call them “lamb pops,” and they’re the perfect bite-size crowd pleaser.

Recently I’ve been joining my good friend Kyle in the art of salumi making. Kyle is very knowledgeable on the subject, an alchemist even as the process requires precision, creativity, and most importantly patience.


Yes, I live in Portland, so it almost feels like a prerogative to pickle or make salumi, and aside from a good hike or going fishing, I can’t think of a better way to spend a Saturday afternoon.


We have an unspoken deal: I bring the suds and he brings the wisdom. There are many things to factor in and be mindful on when creating salumi at an amateur level and while I have been doing the research mostly I just follow his lead and so far it has been a fantastic learning experience while yielding some wonderful results.

A few weeks back before our latest installment involving duck prosciutto and lomo, we worked on some chorizo, herbs de Provence and finocchiona.


Salumi four weeks later. Photograph courtesy of Kyle.

Legend has it: According to a local myth, finocchiona was born after a thief had stolen some salami and left it out in a field of fennel. Upon recovering the bounty the owners were impressed with the pungent aromatic fennel after taste. The rest is as they say, history.

Our cured meats just in time for Thanksgiving.

After hours of having arduously worked on the salumi naturally we were hankering for a nice meal. We made some mussels in a saffron and white wine sauce, grilled up my go-to green veggies wrapped in paper thin prosciutto as well as the lamb pops to kick off dinner.

The rub

  • 1 tbsp kosher salt
  • 1 tbsp onion powder
  • 1 tbsp garlic powder
  • 1 tbsp chili powder
  • 1 ½ tbsp smoked paprika
  • ½ tbsp cayanne powder
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp black or white pepper
  • 1 tbsp cumin powder


Verjus, mint and dijon mustard sauce

  • 1 large lamb rack
  • Fistful of finely minced fresh mint
  • 4 tbsp of Maille Dijon mustard
  • 2 oz of verjus


As a variation you can substitute the mint with fresh rosemary, lemon verbena or romana.


Verjus (verjuice), a medieval sour staple that is experiencing a culinary and mixology revival, is derived from unripened pressed grapes has unique tart and acidic qualities and is a great compliment to heighten the flavor of any sauce, particularly mustard-based ones.

Step 1

I used a grinder to blend the spices together.


Scrape off any meat and connective tissue from the bones. Cover the outside of the meat with a small amount of olive oil or mustard before covering the surface with the rub. Allow the meat to rest for aa hour or two prior to placing on the grill.


Step 2

Mix or blend the verjus, mustard and mint to combine thoroughly.

Step 3

Grill the lamb on indirect heat and flip over until browned on both sides, then cover the exterior with the dijon sauce. I usually try to wrap the rack bones in aluminum foil so they don’t get burnt off by the heat. You definitely want to offer your company something to grab on to.  



Grilling the rack can burn off the bones so lately I’ve been covering them with aluminum foil. Grill until the interior temperature reaches 135 °F for medium rare consistency. The temperature inside will still continue to rise by a few degrees which makes it a great point at which to remove from the heat.

Step 4

Once the lamb is ready, let the meat rest for about 15-20 minutes to retain the juices before slicing into each piece.



Pass around and enjoy.

: Jaime


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