Lamb chops are great, but admittedly they're not my favourite cut of lamb. Each lamb chop consists of a cutlet from the loin attached to its corresponding rib bone, usually with a gorgeous thick slab of back fat along the bone. Its bovine equivalent is the celebrated and iconic beef rib roast. The loin, regardless of which animal it's from, is one of the tenderest and most prized cuts of meat around and I think it's a bit of a shame to prepare a loin of lamb as chops because they're hard to cook; you have to roast them with enough ferocity to get the fat nice and crisp without overcooking the meat. Because there's usually a large amount of fat this is virtually impossible. In my opinion, you'd be better to ask your butcher for a full rack of chops (cutlets) to roast whole or even take the loin completely off the bone before roasting like a steak. Both of these methods allow you to keep the meat nice and pink, which is how it is supposed to be.
To avoid this difficult situation I deboned the chops and left the meat as medallion-sized chunks. The fat, which is full of flavour and a key part of this dish, I diced into 1cm chunks. I seasoned everything with crunchy sea salt and a little sprinkling of white pepper before searing in a very hot pan. The rest of the dish comprised some chunky croutons, made from my numerous leftover sourdough loaves, sautéed spinach and some anchovy fillets. Seasoned generously with cracked black pepper, sea salt and a splash of tarragon vinegar, it was very, very good.
Lamb Chops with Spinach and Croutons Recipe
- 1 bunch flat leaf parsley, leaves picked
- 4 anchovy fillets
- 2 handfuls baby spinach
- vegetable oil, for cooking
- ½ onion, finely sliced
- 1 small clove garlic
- 2 large lamb chops
- 1 small pinch ground white pepper
- tarragon vinegar (or white wine vinegar)
- 1 handful chunky croutons (preferably homemade)
- sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper
Finely chop the parsley and garlic separately and then mix together to make some persillade. Set aside for later.
Prepare the lamb chops: separate the large chunk of fat from along the bone and cut it into approximately 1cm chunks. Leave the medallions of meat (from the eye of the chop) whole. Get a large, heavy-based pan and place over a high heat. When the pan is searing hot, season just the fat with sea salt and a little ground white pepper. Pour about 1 tablespoon of oil into the pan, wait abuot 10 seconds for the oil to heat up and add the lamb fat. Turn the heat to medium and continue to cook until it is brown and crisp.
Meanwhile, add 1 tablespoon of oil to a separate pan and place over a medium-high heat. Add the sliced onions along with a pinch of salt and fry until golden and caramelised. Add the spinach and cook until wilted. Set aside.
When the fat is nice and crisp, remove it from the pan and place in a bowl along with the spinach and caramelised onion. Discard most of the residual fat from the pan, then place back over the heat. Season the medallions of lamb cutlet with sea salt and a little white pepper, and sear in the pan. Cook briefly to keep the meat nice and pink (probably about 3 minutes), then add the persillade and toss everything for about 20 seconds. Remove from the pan and allow to rest for a few minutes.
To finish the dish, add the anchovy fillets and croutons to the bowl with the other ingredients, add about 1 teaspoon of vinegar and a generous pinch of cracked black pepper. Taste, and add more salt if necessary. Cut the medallions into 2cm chunks and mix in. Divide into plates and eat immediately.