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Lamb Chops

Do you imagine Britain’s Queen dining lavishly in her castles and palaces, surrounded by courtiers, family, and state visitors? Well, yes, she has to do that for work, but she finds it a relief to take the occasional luncheon on her own. This is her solitary meal one day in Mrs Queen Takes the Train: “a single lamb chop with a thimble full of mint jelly. Three Brussels sprouts. A steamed carrot. A glass of burgundy.” She sits at her table on a wintry afternoon looking out on the palace garden, the light in the sky already diminishing, and the rain turning to sleet.

I think we often need things to cheer us up as the autumn days shorten, and the Queen is no exception. She makes an unscheduled journey after her lunch to one of the places that has made her happiest, the royal yacht, Britannia, now moored as a tourist attraction outside Edinburgh.  Trouble is, she hasn’t told anyone where she’s going, and dressed up in the strange costume she happens to be wearing, no one recognizes her. That’s how she finds herself, after her lunch, on a public train to Scotland.

There’s no need to do anything so drastic to cheer yourself up. Making yourself a decent lunch or dinner is a sure way to feel better. (Boarding trains to Scotland not required.) Standing at the counter to have a cold yogurt for your lunch is very depressing. So have this hot luncheon fit for a queen instead.

Ingredients 

1 garlic clove, pressed
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves, lightly crushed
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary leaves, lightly crushed
1 teaspoons coarse kosher salt
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2-3 1 1/4-inch-thick lamb loin chops

Instructions 

Mix first 4 ingredients and olive oil in bowl. Add lamb; turn to coat. Let marinate at room temperature at least 30 minutes and up to 1 hour.  Preheat oven to 400°F. Heat heavy ovenproof skillet over high heat. Add lamb; cook until browned, about 3 minutes per side. Transfer skillet to oven and roast lamb chops to desired doneness, about 8-10 minutes for medium-rare. Transfer lamb to platter, cover, and let rest 5 minutes.

You can make substitutions.  If you don’t have the fresh herbs, you can substitute dried.  Mint jelly or mint sauce is the traditional British accompaniment to lamb, but if you don’t have any, try boiling some small red potatoes until they’re done.  Then toss them in butter and chopped mint leaves (and here the fresh mint is better than dried).

I leave the making of the steamed carrot and the Brussels sprouts to you, but there should be some different colors on the plate, no matter which vegetables you use.