I have cooked some leg of lamb before (look for my leg of lamb with pomegranate molasses recipe coming soon) but I have never really cooked lamb chops. I saw some at the store over the weekend and figured it was time to give them a try.
It is a shame that lamb isn’t more popular in America. Legs of lamb are fairly easy to come by at the local supermarket but getting any other cuts of lamb can be tricky and might require a trip to the butcher shop or a specialty market. It is a delicious meat that is easy to cook and elsewhere in the world (particularly Australia and New Zeland) it is a very common meat. I have read a couple studies that sheep are worse for the environment than cattle (that dang methane!) but I would need to do more research before I make any final determination.
Anyway, I picked up 8 lamb loin chops which are basically the lamb version of a t-bone or porterhouse. It was right about 2 pounds which was a good amount for me, my wife, and my 3 year old. I had 4 of them, she had 3, and my boy had 1. You could probably get away with 2-3 per person but I wouldn’t go fewer than that. Depending on how big your bites are you will only get about 4 decent bites of meat from one of these chops.
Here is what they look like:
On one side of the bone is the strip loin and on the other side is a tiny, tiny little piece of tenderloin. Think NY Strip and Filet Mignon. I really wanted to keep that bite of the tenderloin nice and juicy so that meant the whole thing would need to be pretty rare. As far as cooking I just decided to do a standard sear on a cast iron skillet and then finish in the oven. Most lamb chop recipes I saw called for rosemary and garlic, two flavors I am not a huge fan of, so I decided just to go with the tried and true salt and pepper. This would let the flavor of the lamb shine through.
When I put them in the pan I kept the tenderloin section towards the outside of the pan with the strip loin on the inside where there is more heat:
I seared them in a hot cast iron skillet for 2-3 minutes, flipped them over for another 2-3 minutes and then put the whole pan in a hot oven. I wanted to keep them fairly rare but not raw like all good lamb should be so when they reached an internal temperature of 120 I pulled them. I let them rest for a few minutes, cut into one, and realized they were still a bit too rare so I put them back in the oven for a couple more minutes. If I would have waited for 125-128 degrees I think it would have been perfect.
Here is what the final product looks like served with a side of sweet potatoes:
Honestly, I really didn’t care for that bite of tenderloin I was looking forward to. There really wasn’t much flavor at all but it was very tender. The strip loin section however was wonderful, flavorful, and very juicy. I will definitely be cooking more lamb going forward and will start experimenting with different flavors, sauces, and so on to go with it. But this time I just wanted that nice lamb flavor to come through and it did.
My 6 month old girl even loved gnawing on a piece of fat and meat: