Lamb chops don't have to be intimidating. (CU Independent/Ana Faria)
Lamb is one of those foods that sounds intimidating and difficult to cook. However, with very little effort one can whip up a meal that stands up for itself and impresses friends. As far as ingredients go, you’ll need:
For the lamb chops:
Lamb shoulder chops (estimate one chop per person)
Rosemary (fresh or dried)– fresh Rosemary is easy to find at local organic markets
Garlic (about 1 clove per chop)
Olive oil, salt and pepper
For the potatoes:
5-7 good sized red potatoes
¼ cup whipping cream
½-1 stick butter
Two stalks of celery
You’ll need to prepare the meat ahead of time. To prepare the chops, take them out of the package and place them on a plate. Season both sides of the chops with salt and pepper. A good rule of thumb is to use about ½ teaspoon per chop. Sea salt from a grinder is best for this, but if you’re using table salt, go light. Salt can always be added at a later point.
Sprinkle the chops evenly with about 1 tablespoon each of rosemary (if dried) and thyme. Crush each clove of garlic and peel them before chopping roughly and distributing over the chops. Poke each chop with a fork a few times and transfer to a Ziploc bag. Once the meat is in the bag, drizzle about 1 tablespoon of olive oil into the bag and seal.
Here’s the fun part: Because the meat was seasoned on the plate it’s important that all those seasonings get moved around. Take the bag and squeeze it. As the spices and oil are moved around they will distribute over the meat and give it a more uniform flavor. Place the bag in the fridge and forget it for one to two hours.
About half an hour before you want to eat, boil 2 quarts of water in the large saucepan. Leave enough room for the potatoes to boil away, it’s not a good thing if they bubble over.
Next, wash and scrub the potatoes. A clean kitchen scrub brush works well. Because the potatoes will have the skin on, it’s important that all dirt is removed. Cut out any bad spots on the potato, as sometimes they get gouged in transport from the field to the supermarket.
Once the potatoes have been cleaned, cut them into quarters and place in the now-boiling water. Add 1 tablespoon of salt to the water. This will make the water boil harder and season the potatoes at the same time.
Boil the potatoes until fork tender (that’s when a fork can poke the potatoes without meeting any resistance). It should take approximately 10-15 minutes.
In the meantime, wash and chop off the ends of the celery stalks. The portions that should be removed are the very wide, nearly white end towards the base and the head just after the joint, where the leaves begin. Chop the celery into manageable, bite-sized pieces and set them aside.
Now that the potatoes are boiling and the celery has been addressed, it’s time to fix the meat. Heat about 1 tablespoon of olive oil over medium high heat in the skillet. Cooks tip: 1 tablespoon equals once around the pan. Measuring for things like this is not very important, so eyeballing it is alright.
Don’t be surprised if there is white stuff in the bag with the meat that wasn’t there before. That’s the olive oil; it reacts and coagulates because of the cold in the refrigerator. Take the chops from the bag once the oil is hot and add to the pan. The oil will pop and fizzle so it’s advisable to wear a kitchen mitt or use tongs to keep arms from getting burned. An apron is also advisable, because oil stains clothes.
Cook for approximately 4-5 minutes per side. Medium rare is best for flavor, but for well done chops, cook until the juices run clear.
While the chops cook, check your potatoes. Once they are fork-tender, drain them using the colander and return the potatoes to the hot pan. If you don’t have a colander, place the lid on the pan and pour out the water, making sure not to spill the potatoes. Mash the potatoes and add the butter, whipping cream and celery. Add salt and pepper according to taste.
Serving tip: If you’re looking to show off a little, take the time to arrange the potatoes and chops artfully on the plate and add a sprig of fresh rosemary. It’s surprising how much the rosemary adds to the presentation, and it will impress your guests.
This meal is great paired with any green vegetable or salad. Crusty French bread with fresh butter also adds a touch of texture to the meal.
Contact CU Independent Staff Writer Ana Faria at Ana.email@example.com.
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