I don't know what it is, but every once in a while I get the craving for something a little bit different for dinner, be it a side dish or a meaty entree consisting of something other than beef, chicken, or pork. It so happens that one fine day not too long ago I had this crazy idea about a salad with green lentils, orzo and mint. Strolling through the gourmet food store I happened by the butcher, and an idea stuck me; lamb would be excellent. Now, my significant other is not the greatest fan of lamb, but I was confident that I could make it great (though I didn't really have a plan at that point other than "cook, lamb, good"). I purchased two excellent looking lamb loin chops and a few other items including some nice fresh mint for the salad.
The salad turned out cool, mild, and excellent. The lamb was the best I had ever tasted, and truth be told it was mostly accidental. The kind of cosmic coincident that happens all too infrequently. A bolt of mental lightning when you realize that this would taste incredible with that. So without further muttering, I give you "Lamb on a bed of fresh mint".
- 1 lamb loin chop per person
- 2-3 sprigs of fresh mint per lamb chop
- Olive oil
Note: When selecting chops for this dish try to find some good quality chops with a good amount of marbling.
To prepare the chops, first remove most of the fat on the outside. Some people will say "That's where the flavor is". You could leave it on, but most of it is just going to melt when you cook it making a mess. If you have selected chops with a good amount marbling, there should be plenty of flavor. If you like eating the cooked fat, by all means, leave it on.
The next thing is to season the chops, sprinkle both sides with salt, then, rub both sides with a generous amount of extra virgin olive oil, being careful not to cut yourself if there are any jagged bones on the chops. Let the chops set like this for a few minutes so that they can absorb some of the salt and oil.
While your chops are relaxing you can prepare the mint. Wash the mint well, and then dry. You can just shake them over the sink, or use a salad spinner to remove excess water. Remove most of the stem (the part with no leaves attached) and toss it. Cover a baking sheet with aluminum foil (not strictly necessary, but will make cleanup easier). Arrange the mint into a bed about the same size as your chops. Place one chop on each of your mint beds, making sure that the chops are making good contact with the mint, and are not touching the baking sheet.
Place the chops in the oven (top rack) and broil for 5-7 minutes (maybe longer). The edges will curl up, and the corners will get crisp. The surface should glisten and sizzle, and get slightly brown. At this point the tops should be done, but the bottom will not be quite done. Turn off the broiler, but do not remove the lamb. Instead, close the door and allow the lamb to continue to cook with only the residual heat in the oven for another 5-7 minutes. If the chops are not too thick (less than 1/2 inch) then they should be fully cooked, not pink, but also, not over done. The mint may singe a little at the edges, this is fine, I don't recommend eating it anyway. The mint will have served its purpose, imparting a slight mint flavor to the lamb which compliments the sweetness of the lamb. Enjoy.