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Pepper-crusted Lamb Chops with a Red Wine Sauce

August 30, 2007

Lamby Lamb

It is a sad state of affairs to discover a new love only to realize, in the same moment, that you will more often than not suffer deprivation, that this new object of your affection is just too far outside the grasp of your wallet to be enjoyed on more than a very occasional basis. Such was my lamb chop experience the other night.

It’s not that I’d never had lamb chops before. In fact, I tend to order them whenever I see them on a menu. I’ve always been attracted to their diminutive appearance on the plate, like little meat lollipops. But to be perfectly honest, I don’t think I’ve ever had lamb chops as good as those I made for myself the other night. I don’t like to pat my own back, but damn Gina. How is it that in most restaurants they tend to be a little dried out, a little under seasoned, a little not nearly as good as those you see in that picture above? I really don’t know.  Of course, now that I have experienced how tender and amazing and delicious lamb chops can truly be, I have also experienced paying more for them than I thought I’d ever spend on a piece of meat at the supermarket. And I know that these will be an indulgence I seldom get to enjoy.

So apparently the thing with the lamb chops is getting your butcher to french them: to cut all the meat off the protruding bone, thereby producing that meat lollipop effect. But I suspect that the juicy tenderness of the lamb chops I made had something to do with the fact that the chops weren’t frenched. There was so much extra fat on that bone that, I’m imagining, seeped into the rest of the meat, sharing all its lovely fat cells with the muscle cells so they were extra, um, succulent (god I hate that word, but it just seems so appropriate right now).

This preparation, too, was really as simple as simple could be. I didn’t want to do anything too elaborate, this being my first time cooking the lamb and all. A little salt, a little pepper, a little olive oil, and hey presto chops! The only thing I did to fancy it up a bit was to make a red wine reduction in the chop pan. Well, try to make a red wine reduction. It didn’t quite turn out as I was expecting. It seemed to kind of break, the wine bits separating into the butter bits producing a sauce that looked more like, well, blood than sauce. Not the visual impression I was going for, but it tasted pretty damned good. And that’s what really counts, right?

Pepper-crusted Lamb Chops with Red Wine Sauce

  • 4 rib-eye cut lamb chops
  • 1/2 T. each of salt and pepper, roughly ground
  • 1 T. olive oil
  • 1/2 c. red wine
  • 2 T. cold unsalted butter
  • some kind of grain and vegetable side (as you can see I steamed some broccoli and paired it with more of that delicious Trader Joe’s Harvest Grain mix)

Sprinkle the lamb chops liberally with salt and pepper on each side.

Raw Chops

Heat the olive oil in a heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Once it’s hot, add the chops. Cook them for about three to four minutes on each side, and remove them to a plate or cutting board to rest.

Return the skillet, with all the oil and salt and pepper and lamb bits, back to the heat and add the red wine. Scrape everything in the skillet up and let the wine cook until it’s reduced to half the original volume. Lower the heat a bit, and stir in the cut up bits of cold butter. Whisk and whisk and whisk until the butter is melted into the sauce and it’s a little thicker, and then serve it immediately over the lamb chops.

I think my sauce broke up a bit because I didn’t serve it right away, so try to make sure your timing is all perfect and everything.

As I said, easy freaking peasy. And really quite spectacularly good.


So why do the lamb chops cost a million billion dollars a pound? They are just little tiny things. There’s hardly any actual meat on them, so come on, pretty please, lamb producers of the world? Make them affordable so I don’t have to suffer, dreaming of lamb chops, yearning and gazing longingly at them at the meat counter. Give a poor grad student a break, huh?

One Comment leave one →
  1. stockjohn permalink
    October 6, 2010 3:27 pm

    By loin chops or sirloin chops instead of rib chops. They’re half the price and much bigger. Sure they’re not quite as good but they’re maybe 90% as good.

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