A question that friends often ask us is why they can't cook decent chops in the microwave oven.
There's an easy answer: They choose the wrong chops. For example, lamb loin or rib chops fare better when broiled or pan-broiled than when blasted by microwaves. So do veal chops.
But lamb shoulder chops, which need moist heat if they're to become tender, are another story. They emerge succulent from the microwave. And so do pork chops--all pork chops--which must always be cooked until well done and thus usually toughen and dry on top of the stove.
LAMB CHOPS BRAISED WITH WINE AND HERBS
4 lamb shoulder blade chops, cut 3/4-inch thick (about 1 3/4 pounds)
1 large clove garlic, halved
1 teaspoon minced fresh rosemary or 1/4 teaspoon dried, crumbled
1 teaspoon minced fresh marjoram or 1/4 teaspoon dried, crumbled
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 cup dry red wine, beef broth or water
1/2 teaspoon salt
Rub chops on both sides with garlic and arrange in microwave-safe 2- or 3-quart casserole at least 10 inches across. Sprinkle evenly with rosemary, marjoram and pepper. Add red wine. Cover with casserole lid or vented plastic food wrap and microwave on HIGH (100% power) 5 minutes.
Reduce to MEDIUM (50% power) and microwave 14 to 16 minutes until fork-tender, turning chops over and rearranging at half time.
Let stand, covered, 3 minutes. Lift chops to hot platter. Sprinkle with salt and top with some casserole liquid, skimmed of fat. Makes 4 servings.
Bombay Lamb Chops: Arrange garlic-rubbed chops in casserole as directed, but omit herbs, and top chops with 1 cup thinly sliced onions and garlic, minced. Mix pepper with 1/2 teaspoon curry powder, 1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon, 1/8 teaspoon ground ginger and 1/4 cup water. Pour evenly over chops. Cover and microwave as directed.
Lift chops and onions to hot platter. Sprinkle with salt and keep warm. Combine 1/2 cup casserole liquid (skimmed of fat) and 1/2 cup yogurt in microwave-safe 1-pint measure. Microwave, uncovered, on MEDIUM (50% power) 1 minute. Do not boil or yogurt may curdle. Pour yogurt mixture over chops. Sprinkle with minced cilantro or parsley and serve with fluffy boiled rice. Makes 4 servings.