Lamb Loin Chops: Easter Extravagance

27 Mar

Here’s another example that flying solo offers the chance to indulge — both at the cash register and your own tastes. Bone-in lamb loin chops are expensive . . . but a juicy delight, if not over-cooked. And unless you have a full-fledged Irish or Greek clan, serving lamb for your extended family’s Easter dinner is not a popular choice. Someone is bound to dislike it. (Go figure!) And the more economical cut to serve a crowd is a lamb leg roast . . . a great meal but different taste experience.

Herbed Lamb Loin Chops in Red-Wine Reduction, Mashed Butternut Squash and steamed Red Swiss chard.

Herbed Lamb Loin Chops in Red-Wine Reduction, Mashed Butternut Squash and steamed Red Swiss chard.

So finding a day to celebrate the season on your own (or as part of a clever couple) can bring you to the delights of lusty, juicy lamb loin chops. Here’s one way to cook your chops when the grill is still barricaded behind a wall of snow and ice. When I made these for St. Patrick’s Day, I bought only 4 chops. But for a true feast, buy six.

I served the chops with mashed butternut squash (dressed with butter, brown sugar, cinnamon and cloves) and steamed Red Swiss chard. Dinner will be ready in under 45 minutes.

Make the herbed paste for the lamb chops

Make the herbed paste for the lamb chops

HERBED LAMB CHOPS with RED WINE REDUCTION             Serves: 2

Ingredients

  • 6                                      bone-in, lamb loin chops, about 1″ thick
  • 2 Tbsp (30 mL)            extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 cloves                          roasted garlic
  • 3 Tbsp (45 mL)            dried rosemary, crushed
  • 1.5 Tbsp (22.5 mL)      dried oregano
  • 1/2 Tbsp (7.5 mL)        dried thyme
  • 1 Tbsp (15 mL)              Dijon mustard
  • 1 tsp (5 mL)                   red wine vinegar
  • 2 pinches                       ground black pepper
  • 1 pinch                            sea salt
  • 3/4 cup (187.5 mL)      medium-bodied, fruity red wine
  • 1/3 cup (85 mL)            lamb or beef stock, sodium-reduced

Instructions:

1.     Allow chops to come to room temperature.

2.     In a small bowl, mash the roasted garlic cloves with a fork. Add crushed rosemary, oregano, thyme, mustard, vinegar, salt and pepper. Set the herb paste aside.

Allow flavours of the herb paste to meld.

Allow flavours of the herb paste to meld.

3.     Meanwhile, peel, scoop out seeds, cube and boil a small butternut squash. Cook until cubes are tender soft.

4.    Clean the leaves of a head of Red Swiss chard (if you’re not sharing this meal, cook only half of the head, reserving the 2nd half for your second serving). Remove the woody parts of the stems and tear the leaves into rough pieces. Rinse, drain and set aside in a steam basket. Put about 3″ of water in the bottom of a saucepan with a lid.

5.    Plop a teaspoon of the herb paste on one side of each chop. Using the back of the spoon smear the paste all over the face-surface of each chop.

6.    Choose a heavy-bottomed skillet (NOT non-stick) large enough to hold all the chops in a single layer. Add the 2 Tbsp EVOO to the pan and heat to medium-high.

7.      Heat the water in the covered saucepan to a boil.

Cook chops over Medium-High heat in EVOO, about 3 min per side

Cook chops over Medium-High heat in EVOO, about 3 min per side

8.     Place chops, herb-paste sides down in the hot skillet. Quickly smear the bare side of each chop with the remaining herb paste. Cook chops to medium-rare, about 6 minutes, turning once. Remove chops to a platter, tent with foil.

Remove chops to platter, tent with foil.

Remove chops to platter, tent with foil.

9.      Place the steamer basket with the Swiss chard leaves into the saucepan over a medium-high boil, cover. Stir once to allow all leaves to steam evenly.

Scape herbs and brown bits up with as wine comes to a boil. Reduce liquid to half.

Scape herbs and brown bits up with as wine comes to a boil. Reduce liquid by half.

10.   Add the red wine to the skillet and bring to a boil over Medium-High heat.  Scrape up the brown bits and herbs from the bottom of the pan. Add the beef broth [optional] and reduce heat to medium, allowing the liquid to boil down by about half. Quickly add the chops back into the red wine reduction, turning to coat each chop with the sauce (and allow them to heat up just a bit). Remove pan from stove.

Dredge chops through red wine reduction.

Dredge chops through red wine reduction.

11.      Drain squash and roughly mash with a potato masher. Add a dollop of butter, a tablespoon of brown sugar, a pinch of cloves and a teaspoon of cinnamon, continue mashing until smooth.

Add butter, brown sugar, cinnamon and cloves to cooked butternut squash.

Add butter, brown sugar, cinnamon and cloves to cooked butternut squash.

Continue mashing to desire consistency.

Continue mashing to desired consistency.

12.     Place three chops on each plate, drizzle with the red-wine reduction. Serve with mashed butternut squash and a bowl of steamed chard tossed with some white wine vinegar or a squirt of lemon juice. I enjoyed my meal with a glass of the same red wine used to make the sauce. Add a couple of slices of dense, chewy baguette and your Easter extravagance is complete.

Juicy, luscious lamb chops.Savvy Celebrates Easter

Juicy, luscious lamb chops.
Savvy Celebrates Easter

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