Grilled lamb chops are a tasty way to enjoy the rich, distinctive flavor of lamb mixed with the smokiness of the barbecue. However, you can choose between the rib and the loin when it comes to lamb chops, and your decision will impact the presentation, grilling technique and flavor of the finished dish. Slight differences in price, texture and flavor between rib and loin chops will lead you in one direction or the other when it comes time to hit the grill.
Rib lamb chops are cut from the center area of the lamb and usually consist of one long rib bone and a small portion of meat at the end of it. Rib chops are quite tender and they also have a good deal of fat marbling into the meat. This fat content adds to the taste of the chop and helps keep the meat moist when it is on the grill. Typically, a rib lamb chop is one rib, but if you order a double chop, it will come with two rib bones.
Loin lamb chops include part of the loin muscle and part of the tenderloin, with each portion of meat separated by a section of bone. Lamb loin chops are the equivalent of a porterhouse steak when compared to beef, as they are usually the most tender part of the lamb. A double loin chop or English chop is cut from the saddle and uses loin roasts from both sides of the lamb. Despite being more tender, loin lamb chops are usually slightly less expensive than rib chops.
Whether you settle on a rib chop or loin chop, preparing the chops correctly ahead of time will enhance your dish. If you notice any harder pieces of fat on the chop, trim them off with a sharp knife to prevent chewy chops after grilling. Leave any internal fat where it is and salt both sides of the lamb chop about 40 minutes before you intend to place it on the grill. Try for lamb chops that are between 1 1/4 and 1 1/2 inches thick for the ideal contrast in external and internal texture.
For a finished lamb chopped that is cooked through before it has charred too much on the outside, you won't want to cook it over direct heat the whole time, especially with thick cuts. Create hot and cool areas on your grill so you can sear the lamb on both sides over direct heat, then allow it to cook through over indirect heat. This results in a nice crust and medium to medium-rare center no matter which type of lamb chop you choose. The lamb chops should register around 130 degrees Fahrenheit for medium-rare.