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The Lamb in Winter

January 10, 1991|MINNIE BERNARDINO | TIMES STAFF WRITER

LAMB EXPRESS

Lamb and Potatoes with Lemon-Rosemary Butter Blanched sugar snap or snow peas Hot pasta Apple pie or cobbler Fresh lamb was once only a springtime treat, but now it's available year-round. Its delicate flavor makes it perfect for this hearty winter menu.

When buying lamb, select meat that is pinkish-red; it will have a velvety texture. Marketed as a young animal--6 to 8 months old--lamb has little or no marbling, so fat can easily be trimmed from around the edges of any cut. The meat is always tender and cooks faster than pork or beef. You can cook the meat while frozen; simply pan-brown at a lower heat, or if broiling, place farther from heat and broil 1 1/2 to 2 times longer than unfrozen chops.

Loin chops are popular for pan-grilling and broiling--you'll recognize them by their T-shaped bone. They are so tender and succulent that they need nothing more than a simple seasoned butter as a sauce. In the following recipe, the tartness of the lemon balances the flavors of the garlic and herbs that have been rubbed into the meat.

This is also good served with a light green salad topped with an anchovy vinaigrette. If you have the desire for dessert, but no time to make it, pick up ready-to-eat apple pie from a nearby bakery.

LAMB CHOPS AND

POTATOES WITH LEMON-

ROSEMARY BUTTER

Staples

2 cloves garlic

Salt

Freshly ground pepper

1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons butter

1 tablespoon salad or olive oil

Shopping

Fresh rosemary sprigs

1 lemon

4 to 6 red potatoes

4 lamb loin chops, cut less than 1-inch thick, or 8 rib chops

1. Press or mince 2 cloves garlic. Chop fresh rosemary to make 1 teaspoon. Grate lemon and measure 1/2 teaspoon zest. Squeeze citrus to extract 1 tablespoon lemon juice.

2. Wash 4 to 6 red potatoes and slice 1/8-inch thick.

3. Rub 4 lamb loin chops and potato slices with garlic, 1/2 teaspoon rosemary and salt and freshly ground pepper to taste. Set aside.

4. Mix remaining 1/2 teaspoon rosemary with 1/4 cup soft butter, lemon zest and lemon juice. Set aside.

5. Melt remaining 2 tablespoons butter and 1 tablespoon oil in large skillet over medium-low heat. Cook potato slices on both sides until done. Remove and keep warm in 300-degree oven.

6. Add 2 tablespoons lemon-rosemary butter to hot skillet. Add chops and brown about 5 to 6 minutes on each side, or to desired doneness.

7. Serve chops with potatoes and dot with remaining lemon-rosemary butter.

Makes 4 servings.

Note: Garlic-seasoned lamb chops and potatoes may be placed together on broiler rack and brushed with some lemon-rosemary butter. Broil close to heat 6 minutes, turn and brush with more herb butter and broil to desired doneness.

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