Pan-Roasted Lamb Chops with Couscous and Fresh Apple-Mint Salsa
Total time: 20 minutes; active time: 8 minutes
Good lamb chops hard to beat — quick, easy to prepare, and available year-round. Start with American lamb, known for its sweet, mild flavor. Be careful not to overcook the meat, which diminishes the flavor and the texture. (If you’ve ever tasted lamb cooked to medium or medium-rare, you’ll never again request a well-done chop.) For safety, the U.S. Department of Agriculture states that lamb must be cooked at least to 145 degrees (medium-rare) to reduce the risk of food-borne illness.
— Judy Feagin
Yield: 4 servings
- 8 rib or loin lamb chops, each
- 1 to 1-1/2 inches thick
- 1 garlic clove, peeled and cut in half
- 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
- Hot cooked couscous
- Fresh Apple-Mint Salsa
- Garnish: fresh mint sprigs
Rub lamb chops with garlic and brush with 1-1/2 teaspoons oil; sprinkle with salt and pepper. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Heat remaining oil in a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add chops; cook 2 to 3 minutes on each side. Place in the oven and cook 5 minutes, or until a meat thermometer inserted in the thickest portion of chops registers 145 degrees. Serve on a bed of couscous, topped with Fresh Apple-Mint Salsa and garnished with a sprig of fresh mint.
Note: To grill lamb chops, cook, covered with grill lid, over high heat (400 degrees to 500 degrees), 4 minutes on each side, or until a meat thermometer inserted in the thickest portion of chops registers 145 degrees.
Fresh Apple-Mint Salsa
- 2 small Granny Smith apples, cored and chopped
- 1/2 cup chopped red bell pepper
- 1/2 cup chopped red onion
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh mint
- 1/3 cup fresh lime juice
- 1/4 cup honey
- 2 teaspoons chopped fresh jalapeno pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
Total time: 12 minutes; active time: 12 minutes
Combine all ingredients and serve with lamb chops.
All lamb is likely to be tender because it comes from a young animal. But the most tender chops come from the upper back. Most attractive are the loin and rib chops, which also cost a bit more. Sirloin chops are cut from the leg, blade and arm chops from the shoulder. These cuts are delicious, tender, and less expensive, but the meat is separated by bands of connecting tissue. When buying lamb, look for a bright pink color, pink bones, and creamy white fat. Store fresh lamb in the refrigerator for two to three days, or seal in a zippered freezer bag and freeze up to six months. Use ground lamb within a day of purchase, or freeze up to three months.