Ah, if we owned a restaurant (Can you imagine? How dreamy!) this dish would be on the menu. Hands down. It’s a complex dish with many harmonious flavors. And I won’t lie, it takes time to complete all the components. But trust this: this dish is worth every second you may spend making it!
The first step is to marinate the lamb. We got some nice looking lamb chops from our local butcher, but you can use any cut you like. My only issue was that the butcher cut out one of the characteristic bones of the chop as he was cleaning them up for me. Next time I am going to be certain to ask for them Frenched.
You are going to want to marinate your lamb for at least 24 hours. The flavors of the marinade seep into the meat, and add a special subtlety to the dish when completed. So, last night, we put together the following marinade:
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
½ cup dry white wine
¼ cup diced sweet onion
3 juniper berries
5 peppercorns (mixed)
3 cloves of garlic
2 bay leaves
2 lemons, cut into wedges
Throw this together, toss everything into a plastic bag or container and put in the fridge. Make sure you turn everything a couple of times during the next 24 hours. Besides turning, there is really nothing you need to do with the lamb now, so let’s move on to the other components.
We served the lamb with a fresh pasta. You can find the full recipe here. Making your own pasta is a bit time consuming, but certainly worth it. You end up with a nice light pasta with better flavor and texture than most of what you can buy in the store. If you are truly not up for making your own, try getting some fresh pasta from your local Italian market instead; it makes a world of difference.
As for the sauce. Oh! The sauce. Sauces like this are the reason that the chef saucier exists! This sauce truly brings everything together and rounds out all the flavors, while contributing to the overall dish in infinite ways.
For the sauce you will need:
1 slice of bacon
2 Roma tomatoes
3 cloves garlic
¾ cup chicken broth
¼ cup heavy cream
Kalamata olives, sliced
Splash of sherry
Salt and pepper to taste
Start by sauteing the bacon, cut into small pieces, in a sauce pan. Once crisp, pour off most of the fat. Remove the bacon from the pan, sautee the shallots and garlic in the small amount of bacon fat that is left in the pan. Add chicken stock, tomatoes, sherry and the bacon back into the pan and let this mixture reduce until tomatoes are very soft and begin to break down. At this point, add the cream, capers, and olives. Let this simmer for a few minutes, season with salt and pepper to taste. At the very end, add the matchsticked zucchini so that it just cooks before you serve.
Once your sauce is done, you are ready to sear the lamb chops. Cooking lamb chops takes less than 10 minutes for the perfect medium-rare doneness. For this dish the order of operations was: set water on the stove to boil, complete the sauce, sear the lamb, take the lamb out to rest, while the meat is resting, cook the pasta (fresh pasta should only take 3-4 minutes). Then serve.
When you pan is nice and heated, throw in a pat of butter and some olive oil. Move these around to coat the entire pan surface, then, just before you put your lamp chops in the pan, lightly salt and pepper the meat. Cook on each side 3-4 minutes, turn once browned. Then, take these out immediately to rest. I had a meat thermometer in one of the chops and the second it hit 150 degrees, they all came out. This will give you a nice medium/medium-rare lamb chop.
As the meat rested, which all cooked meat should do, I threw in the pasta. This took all of three minutes. Once drained it was time to plate and serve. Pasta + lamb + sauce on top with a nice chiffonade of basil to top things off.
This dish is amazing, and I really hope you try it. The flavors, from the marinade to the sauce to the meat itself, come together in such harmony that you’ll wonder what Michelin star rated chef cooked for you!