Here in Pennsylvania, the month of March came "in like a lamb", it went "out like a lamb" too, so, I've decided to finish up my remaining March posts with a tribute to lamb, specifically: baby lamb chops. One of my favorite indulgences are properly-cooked, medium-rare lamb rib chops, which are individually cut from an 8-rib rack of lamb. They are seriously simple to prepare and are quickly cooked over high heat, either on the grill or in a skillet. Whenever I am preparing the salad I'm posting today, I prefer the lamb chops to be single-cut (one rib per chop), about 3/4" thick, rather than the equally-delicious double-cut lamb chops (two ribs per chop), which are about 1 1/2" thick. Yesterday (in Categories 2 & 8), I posted my recipe for ~ A Luxurious Lemon and Fig Balsamic Vinagrette ~, and I'm here to tell you, if you are a lover of baby lamb chops and sublime lemon-flavor, you are in for a quite a treat today!
Note: "Frenching" is the term used for removing fatty meat from the tip to expose the bone. It makes for a professional and pretty presentation (but this step is optional). Today, I asked my butcher to "French":
For the vinaigrette:
6 tablespoons extra-virgin lemon-infused olive oil
6 tablespoons fig-infused balsamic vinegar
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
In a 1-cup measuring container, vigorously whisk the oil, vinegar and mustard together. Set aside.
6-8 cups sweet baby lettuces (1 1/2-2 cups per person), rinsed and thoroughly dried
1/4 cup finely diced red onion
2 dozen asparagus spears, medium-thickness, tips cut into 2" lengths and stalks cut into 1/2" pieces, woody stalk ends discarded
1 1/2 cups carrots, peeled and sliced into 1/4" "coins"
1/2 teaspoon sea salt, for blanching asparagus and carrots (1 teaspoon total salt)
1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese, for garnish
1/4 cup chopped pecans, lightly-toasted and cooled, for garnish
~ Step 2. In a 3 1/2-quart chef's pan w/straight deep sides, bring 3/4" of water to a boil with 1/2 teaspoon of sea salt. Add the asparagus tips and pieces. Adjust heat to simmer, 1 1/2-2 minutes, or until asparagus is just slightly undercooked. Drain thoroughly and rinse/shock under cold running water to halt the cooking process and return the asparagus to below room temperature. Separate the tips from the pieces, cover with plastic wrap and set aside.
~ Step 3. Repeat the blanching process with the coined carrots, cooking them for 2 1/2-3 minutes, or until carrots are just slightly undercooked. Drain thoroughly and rinse/shock under cold running water, to halt the cooking process and return the carrots to below room temperature. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside.
It's time to cook the lamb chops!
freshly ground sea salt
freshly ground peppercorn blend
Note: If you are not using sea salt, use the salt even more judiciously.
2 tablespoons salted butter, into
2 tablespoons lemon-infused olive oil
Increase heat to medium-high. Saute lamb chops until golden brown on both sides, about 2 1/2-3 minutes per side, turning only once. Remove from heat, immediately remove from skillet and set aside.
~ Step 6. To assemble the salads, distribute the salad greens evenly between 4 plates. Distribute the red onion, asparagus and carrots over the greens. Arrange 3-4 warm lamb chops over the top. Garnish with the crumbled feta and toasted pecans.
Serve immediately with fig and balsamic vinaigrette for dipping and drizzling:
Special Equipment List: 1-cup measuring container; whisk; plastic wrap; 3 1/2-quart chef's pan w/straight deep sides; colander; plastic wrap; 12"-14" skillet, preferably nonstick; tongs
Cook's Note: In Melanie's Kitchen we affectionately refer to ~ A Luxurious Lemon and Fig Balsamic Vinaigrette ~ as "liquid gold". Besides lamb chops, it is wonderful drizzled atop grilled or roasted chicken, steamed or poached fish, almost any cooked or raw vegetable, and/or soft cheese!
"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti
(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2012)