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Lamb Chops with Mint, Tomato and Garlic Sauce

Lamb Chops with Mint, Tomato and Garlic Sauce
Chops cut from the loin are the most costly of the various types of lamb chops, but they are also the tastiest and most tender. This recipe calls for double loin chops, which are simply cut twice as thick as a typical loin chop. While the chops are resting, a quick pan sauce of tomatoes, garlic, basil and mint that was started in a saucepan is finished in the roasting pan. Roasted potatoes, couscous or basmati rice would round out the plate.

Ingredients:

  • 8 thick-cut bone-in lamb loin chops, each 1 1/2
     inches thick, 2 to 2 1/2 lb. total weight
  • Extra-virgin olive oil for coating, plus 1 Tbs.
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper,
     to taste
  • 2 Tbs. chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 2 Tbs. chopped fresh basil

For the sauce:

  • 1 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 small shallot, minced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 tomatoes, peeled, seeded and coarsely
     chopped
  • 2 tsp. balsamic vinegar
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 6 to 8 fresh basil leaves, cut into narrow strips
  • 6 to 8 fresh mint leaves, cut into narrow strips
  • 1/4 cup dry red wine

Directions:

Using a sharp knife, trim away as much of the surface fat from the lamb as possible. Brush or rub the chops on both sides with olive oil, and season generously with salt and pepper. Press the parsley and basil firmly into both sides of each chop. Let stand at room temperature for 20 to 30 minutes before roasting.

Preheat an oven to 450°F.

Meanwhile, start making the sauce: In a small saucepan over medium-low heat, warm the olive oil. Add the shallot and sauté until softened, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute. Increase the heat to medium-high, add the tomatoes and cook, stirring frequently, until the tomatoes soften and release their liquid, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the vinegar and season with salt and pepper. Cook until most of the liquid has evaporated, 3 to 4 minutes. Remove from the heat, stir in the basil and mint, and set aside until the lamb chops are roasted.

Preheat a large, heavy ovenproof fry pan over high heat until very hot. Add the 1 Tbs. olive oil, and then add the lamb chops and sear for 2 minutes. Turn the chops and sear for 1 minute on the other side. Immediately transfer the pan to the oven and roast the lamb until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the meat, away from the bone, registers 125° to 130°F for medium-rare, 5 to 6 minutes.

Remove the pan from the oven, transfer the chops to a warmed platter and cover loosely with aluminum foil. Let rest while you finish the sauce.

Pour off any excess fat from the pan. Set the pan over medium-high heat, pour in the wine and cook, stirring to scrape up the browned bits from the pan bottom. Add the tomato sauce and any juices that have accumulated on the platter and bring to a boil. Remove from the heat.

Divide the chops among warmed plates. Divide the sauce evenly among them, spooning it over the top. Serve immediately. Serves 4.

Adapted from Williams-Sonoma, Essentials of Roasting, by Rick Rodgers, Melanie Barnard & Bob & Colleen Simmons (Oxmoor House, 2004).