When you get older birthdays seem to lose their importance. We’re no longer in such a hurry to grow up. (“How old are you?” “Eight and three-quarters!”) Time flies faster and it seems like we just had a birthday a month ago so what’s the big deal. Our minds, filled with a lifetime of useful and useless data, don’t have room for much else, like remembering how old we actually are. (This year I had to subtract my birth year from the current year to figure it out.)
The one thing I do look forward to on my birthday is choosing what’s for dinner; it’s a family tradition. When the day comes, there aren’t that many things that can compete with lamb chops. So tender and lovely. Seared on the outside, rare as possible on the inside. In this recipe, we serve the chops with a sauce of mint chimichurri, a loose pesto of sorts, Argentinian, with fresh mint, parsley, garlic, vinegar and oil.
Perfect for birthdays, Valentine’s Day, and Valentine birthdays. :-)
Lamb loin chops:
- 2 pounds of lamb loin chops, about 8 individual chops, 1 1/2 inch thick
- 1 teaspoon Kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 2 Tbsp olive oil
- 3 cloves garlic, chopped (about 3 teaspoons)
- 1 1/2 cups fresh mint leaves (spearmint), packed
- 1 1/2 cups fresh parsley leaves, packed
- 3 Tbsp red wine vinegar
- 3/4 teaspoon Kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 1/2 cup olive oil
1 Remove chops from refrigerator and sprinkle on all sides with Kosher salt. Let sit at room temperature for a half hour (for small chops) to an hour (for large chops) to come to room temp.
2 Make the mint chimichurri sauce. Either in a food processor or by hand, finely chop the garlic, mint and parsley. Place in a bowl and stir in the wine vinegar, salt, and red pepper flakes. Stir in the olive oil.
3 Heat olive oil in a large cast iron pan on medium high heat. Sprinkle the black pepper on both meaty sides of the chops. When the pan is hot, place the chops meat-side down in the pan. Leave space between the chops, do not crowd the pan.
4 Do not move the chops, just let them brown, about 2 to 4 minutes on each side, depending on the heat of your pan and the size of the chops. Once browned on one side, turn them over and brown the other side. Quickly sear the fatty and bone edges of the chops.
5 Once all of the sides have browned, lower the heat and continue to cook until the lamb chops are done to your liking. Lamb is best rare (vivid pink on the inside), never more cooked than medium rare. The easiest way to test for the doneness of the chops is to press on them with your finger (see the finger test to check doneness of meat). You can also use an instant read meat thermometer. Remove the meat from the pan at 120° to 125°F for rare, and 130° to 135°F for medium rare. Some of the chops may cook faster than others, so check them as they cook, and pull them off the pan when ready.
6 Place the chops on a plate and cover with foil. Let rest for 10 minutes before serving.
Serve drizzled with mint chimichurri sauce.