2 lamb chops, 1/2 lb each
small amount vegetable oil
freshly ground pepper
Let the chops come to room temperature. Salt and pepper both sides while you heat up a large cast iron pan (keep the heat as high as your burner will go). Rub a small amount of vegetable oil over each chop after the salt has absorbed. Place the chops in the pan only when it is really hot, then sear for three minutes per side for a perfect medium rare. Cast iron retains heat really well, but if you're using a lighter pan you will of course need to cook each side a little longer because the pan needs time to recover its heat when you first add the chops and when you flip them. Be sure to let the chops rest, covered with a tent of aluminum foil, for about 5 minutes before digging in -- resting will allow the juices to redistribute into the meat, so you will end up with juicy meat instead of a juice-covered plate. Serve with pan sauce, below.
Shallot and Rosemary Pan Sauce
1 minced shallot
1 stem rosemary
3/4 cup wine (we used Cambria Pinot Noir)
3/4 cup chicken stock (low sodium)
1 tablespoon butter
While the chops are resting, it makes sense to make a quick pan sauce to take advantage of all the lovely brown bits on the bottom of the pan. Turn the heat down to medium and add the shallots, stirring and adding a small pinch of salt as they soften. When they are beginning to turn translucent and have softened, add the wine and chicken stock, stirring to bring up all the delicious fond (the aforementioned brown bits) from the bottom of the pan, and toss in a sprig of rosemary. You don't need to pull the leaves off the rosemary -- just toss in the sprig, and pull it out when the sauce is done. Let the sauce reduce at a simmer until it has reduced by at least half (again, this is why we like cast iron -- a thin aluminum pan won't retain enough heat to quickly reduce all that liquid. By the time a light pan got back up to temperature, your chops would be unappetizingly cold.) Finish the sauce by stirring in the tablespoon of butter, then salt and pepper to taste.
To get a good texture on the mashed potatos, I love to use the ricer...it turns each hefty Russet into a pile of snow-white fluff. We mixed in a couple tablespoons of sour cream (Jason mixed, I supervised) for a nice tang. I was hoping Jason would make his broiled potatoes, but these were an excellent alternative.
I think we're going to have to make this one again -- I don't know why I don't think of lamb more often when I'm planning a meat entree, but this was delicious.