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Spring Forward

Lamb Chops, Andrew Meade

Photo by Andrew Meade

Spring is one of my favorite times of year: Flowers and trees are blooming and the promise of sunny days ahead is always uplifting.

For those who celebrate Easter, one of the most popular culinary symbols of spring is the lamb, and roasted lamb is served at the Pope’s Easter dinner every year. Many other believers also serve lamb on Easter Sunday.

For me, cooking is always a passion—but that’s especially true around the holidays. I like to stick to easy methods and processes like this foolproof method of making lamb chops at home. The trick is simple; just heat the skillet in the oven prior to cooking them. You’ll end up with restaurant quality lamb chops every time! The second trick is taking a traditional chimichurri and adding mint, which is a great compliment for lamb. Happy spring and buen provecho!

LAMB CHOPS WITH CILANTRO-MINT CHIMICHURRI

Serves 4 to 6

Argentine chimichurri sauce is traditionally served with grilled meats. It tastes so good, that many Latin countries followed Argentina’s lead, coming up with their own adaptations to serve with meat from the churrasco grill. My chimichurri includes mint, a classical lamb accompaniment, as well as honey and serrano chiles for a little sweet-spicy action. This sauce is fantastic with any broiled, pan-seared or grilled meat and even with roasted vegetables. Because so many fresh herbs are used, it’s best eaten within a day of making.

For the chimichurri sauce
1 packed cup fresh cilantro leaves
1/2 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves
2 tablespoons fresh mint leaves
1 to 2 pickled or fresh serrano chiles, halved (seeded and ribbed for less heat)
3 tablespoons rice vinegar
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice (from about 1/2 lime)
1 tablespoon honey
1/2 teaspoon salt plus extra for seasoning the lamb
2 Tbsp olive oil

For the lamb
12 1-inch thick lamb loin chops, trimmed of excess fat
Salt and Freshly ground pepper
2 Tbsp olive oil
3 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary
3 garlic cloves, peeled and coarsely chopped

1. To make the chimichurri, combine the cilantro, parsley, mint, serrano chile, rice vinegar, lime juice, honey, and salt in the bowl of a food processor and pulse into a paste. With the food processor running, gradually add the olive oil, continuing to process until the sauce is smooth, scraping down the sides of the food processor as necessary. Transfer the chimichurri to a bowl, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to 3 hours. (Bring to room temperature before serving.)

2. To make the lamb, preheat your broiler to high and place the oven rack at its highest position.

3. Season the lamb with salt and pepper. Heat the olive oil in a large oven-safe skillet over high heat. Add the lamb chops and brown on all sides, about 10 minutes total. Add the rosemary and the garlic and cook until fragrant, 1 to 2 minutes. Transfer the skillet to the broiler and cook until the lamb is still pink in the center, about 5 minutes. Serve the chops from the oven with a spoonful of the chimichurri drizzled on top.

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