Little Lamb Chops with Mint Gremolata
Meat and two sides. That was standard operating procedure for most dinners in my house growing up, along with many of my generation. If there wasn’t animal protein on the center of the plate, my dad would go sniffing around the kitchen looking for his steak. We’ve all evolved since then, for many good reasons.
- Most nutrition experts agree that eating a plant-based diet is beneficial to your health.
- Meat, especially good-quality meat, is expensive, particularly when measured against beans, legumes, and other plant proteins.
- There are environmental costs associated with raising livestock, which has a far greater impact on greenhouse gasses than growing plants.
Most nights in my own house, meat and poultry aren’t the main event. Meals are either vegetarian or meat plays more of a supporting role than a starring one.
That all being said, we are omnivores over here. And I have to admit that when I do put a loin of pork or roast chicken on the table, my people are practically high fiving. Apparently they’re not the only ones. I bumped into a dad at school recently who reported that his wife relies heavily on Mom’s Kitchen Handbook for making dinner. When I half jokingly asked what recipe he’d like to see next, he paused and said with a wry smile, “My son and I would really like some more meat.”
More meat? You got it. Hope you like lamb.
Lamb is far less popular on American soil than it is in the rest of the world. We are a nation of beef eaters, but I’d argue that there are plenty of good reasons to consider lamb. Generally speaking, it’s less marbled than beef. The fat on most cuts of lamb appears around the perimeter, making it easy to cut away and thus reduce the amount of saturated fat. Lamb is high in protein, iron, zinc, and B12. And when cooked well? It’s tender, rich, and tasty.
Now, onto this recipe for lamb chops with mint gremolata. It’s not really about lamb at all. It’s about the gremolata, an Italian condiment of garlic, parsley, and lemon zest traditionally served with ossobucco. Here I’ve added fresh mint, capers, and anchovy, flavors that are custom made for lamb. It’s so plainly delicious you’ll want to eat it by the spoonful. Then you’ll have to make another batch to go with your next “meat and two sides” supper.
Little Lamb Chops with Mint Gremolata
- 4 to 8 loin or rib lamb chops (the number depends on size of the chops and size of your appetite)
- 1/2 cup roughly chopped fresh mint
- 1/2 cup roughly chopped fresh Italian parsley
- 1 large clove garlic
- 2 tablespoons capers
- 1 anchovy
- 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil , plus more for cooking the lamb
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- Freshly ground black pepper
Remove the lamb chops from the refrigerator 30 minutes before you plan to cook.
Make the gremolata by blending the mint, parsley, garlic, capers, anchovy, 1/4 cup olive oil, and lemon juice in a food processor (a mini food processor works best) until the texture of coarse pesto, scraping down the sides as needed. If you don't have a food processor, finely chop the mint, parsley, garlic, capers, and anchovy by hand, put it into a medium bowl, and whisk in the olive oil and lemon juice.
Season both sides of the lamb chops generously with salt and a light shower of freshly ground black pepper.
Set a large, heavy skillet (cast iron is ideal) over medium-high heat. Pour a tablespoon or so of olive oil into the pan and swirl to coat the bottom. Set the chops into pan. The cooking time will vary based on the thickness of the chops. For medium-rare 1-inch-chops, cook for about 4 minutes until deeply browned. Turn them over and cook the second side about 4 minutes. Adjust the time if your chops are a little thinner or a little thicker. If you are unsure when the lamb is done, use a paring knife to make a little incision in the center and have a peek, keeping in mind they will continue to cook once off the heat.
Transfer to a serving plate and serve with the gremolata.