from The Maine Farm Table Cookbook (The Countryman Press, 2021)
As I mention in my recent blog post, growing up, my family would attend Easter dinner at my aunt and uncle's house where we would dine on lamb. It was usually a shank, or thick slices from a roasted rolled and tied leg. My Aunt Katharine is an excellent cook - truly one of the best - and foods that I would normally dread at home, I consumed with enthusiasm at my aunt's table. And so I learned to love lamb at an early age.
This recipe from my latest cookbook is meant for a small fancy dinner party, so the expense of buying cleaned chops doesn't break the bank. In my opinion, the real star of this dish is the carrot puree, made from either new spring carrots, or, if you can't find them, well-stored carrots from the fall.
- ½ cup pine nuts
- 1 large bunch mint, leaves only, washed and dried
- ½ bunch flat-leaf parsley, leaves only, washed and dried
- ½ cup Parmesan (about 2 ounces), grated
- ⅔ cup olive oil, divided
- Sea salt to taste
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1 to 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 3 large carrots, peeled and roughly chopped
- 1 garlic clove, crushed
- ⅔ cup vegetable stock
- 3 tablespoons heavy cream
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- 4 thick lamb chops, trimmed with bones cleaned
- 4 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 6 spring onions (preferably with small, purple bulbs), roots removed and greens trimmed to 3 inches
- Fresh mint leaves
- For the mint pesto: Place the pine nuts in a dry frying pan set over a medium heat. Toast until golden and aromatic. Spill them into a food processor.
- Add the mint leaves, parsley, Parmesan, and half of the olive oil to the food processor. Pulse until the mixture is broken down and coarse.
- With the food processor on, drizzle in the remaining olive oil until the pesto comes together into a smooth sauce. Scrape the pesto into a bowl and season to taste with salt, pepper, and the lemon juice. Cover the sauce and chill until ready to use.
- For the carrot puree: Combine the carrots with the garlic and vegetable stock in a heavy-based saucepan. Bring the vegetables to a simmer, cover, and cook over medium heat until the carrots are tender, about 12 to 15 minutes.
- Remove pan from heat and scrape the vegetables in to a clean food processor. Add the cream and butter, and puree until smooth. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Scrape the puree into a bowl, cover, and set aside.
- For the lamb: Heat a large, cast-iron skillet over medium heat until hot. While the skillet is heating, rub the lamb chops with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
- Cook the chops in the hot pan, turning occasionally, until golden-brown all over and firm, yet springy to the touch, 6 to 8 minutes, turning occasionally (if you’re using a meat thermometer, shoot for an internal temperature of 125°F for medium-rare).
- Remove the chops to a plate and cover loosely with aluminum foil, leaving to rest for at least five minutes.
- For serving: Heat the olive oil in a clean cast iron skillet over medium heat. If the onions are on the large side, split them in half lengthwise. Add them to the pan, season with salt and pepper, and cook until charred all over, about 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.
- Reheat the carrot puree in a saucepan over a low heat, stirring. Spread onto a large serving plate and top with the chops.
- Drizzle some of the mint pesto over the plate. Arrange the spring onions around the plate and garnish with mint leaves. Serve with a dish of remaining pesto alongside.
Photo courtesy of Lines + Angles