A couple of days ago, my cooking buddy Jim Holmes and I were talking about a great pork tenderloin dish that I enjoyed at Lilly's in Louisville, made of tender pork smoked over "fruitwoods soaked in Bourbon" and served with "a Zinfandel reduction." This item tasted so good in the restaurant that I couldn't wait to try something loosely based on it at home.

The key to its glory, I reasoned, lies in the simple combination of Bourbon and Zinfandel, both of which have similar-only-different flavors attributable at least in part to oak. I figured everything else wouldn't matter much, as long as I could find ways to highlight and balance both flavors in a grilled-meat dish.

So, with no pork around but a quartet of fat lamb loin chops in the fridge, I put on my Crazed Chef toque and started inventing. Early in the morning, I put the lamb chops in a gallon-size Ziploc bag with two smashed garlic cloves and about 1/4 cup of Kentucky Bourbon (Wild Turkey, for the record) and left the meat marinating in the Bourbon and garlic all day. Occasionally I'd wander by and give the bag a shake and a turn, just for the magic of it.

A little before dinner time, I started a charcoal fire, using some fancy charcoal I bought a while back that has particles of hickory wood built right into the briquettes. Gave it plenty of time to burn down to a solid gray ash, then put the grill on to get red-hot (so it would leave nice grill marks). Took the chops out of the marinade, patted them dry, and threw them on the grill over direct heat, top on the Weber kettle, all vents wide open.

While the chops were grilling (a total of eight minutes for 1-inch chops, turned once), I put the leftover marinade (it only amounted to a tablespoon or so) into 1/2 cup of Zinfandel (Topolos 1994 Sonoma). Whacked two garlic cloves into thin slices, sauteed them in a little olive oil in a small skillet, and as soon as they started to brown, poured in the wine-marinate mix and let it boil over high heat until it was reduced to a couple of tablespoons of a syrupy, dark-purple and very aromatic liquid. Painted it on a serving plate, popped the four finished chops on top, and served. Voila!

For a side dish, I chopped arugula and Parmigiano and just a skosh of butter over hot spaghetti, to accomplish a veggie and a starch course in a single dish. It made a great accompaniment, and the lamb chops were perfect with the rest of the Zinfandel.