This is a delightful main course which improves on your run-of-the-mill pan fried lamb chops by a mile. It solves the thousand year old lamb chop connundrum by cooking the tender eye seperately from the tougher bone portion, plus it uses the trimmings to create an incredibly intense sauce. If I must say so myself, the pesto crust works really well with lamb. This recipe does however require a tad more time and effort, but its ooh so worthwhile in the end.
- Lamb Chops (8)
- Pesto (2T)
- Parmagiano Reggiano (1T)
- Bread (1 slice)
- Garlic (0.5 bulb = 6 cloves)
- Fennel Seeds (2T)
- Mint Leaves (1T)
- Rosemary (1T)
- Thyme (1T)
- Cognac (2T)
- Woustershire Sauce
- Dijon Mustard
- Misc Vegetables
Preparation – Earlier in the Day
Buy the type of lamb chop which has some meat clinging to the rib end of the bone. Cut each chop into three parts:
- The first part is the round meaty eye, which will become your medallions (chopping board, left). Make sure you trim away most of the white bits as you won’t be cooking the medallion too long.
- The second part is the flank, basically the fleshy portion around the long end of the bone (chopping board, right). You can leave the white bits on for these cuts.
- The third part will be the trimmings (on the plate), basically the bone and chunks of fat and connective tissue.
- Marinate the medallion and flank pieces in 2T olive oil, 1T cognac, 1T thyme, 1T fennel seeds, 0.5t salt, a pinch of sugar and a dash of woustershire sauce. Lamb is one of the more gamey meats and you should marinate it for a minimum of four hours.
- Boil the trimmings in a pot, with just enough water to cover everything. Add to the pot, 1T mint leaves, 1T fennel seeds, 1T rosemary, 1T Cognac and 6 garlic cloves. Simmer with the cover on for a minimum of half an hour. Follow up by microwaving the meat and stock on high power, covered, for 3×3 = 9 minutes, allowing the meat to cool between cycles.
- Leave a piece of bread uncovered in the fridge to dry out.
Preparation – Before the Meal
- Cut the piece of bread into little cubes. Toast the cubes into croutons and smash them in a zip-loc bag with the flat end of a meat mallet or rolling pin to produce some fine breadcrumbs.
- Mix 2T of these breadcrumbs, with 2T of pesto and 1T of finely grated Parmagiano Reggiano. This will form the pesto crust.
- Pick out the marinated flank portions and pan fry these on low heat with a spot of oil till they are nicley browned. These bits have to be fried as they take much longer to become tender.
- Set aside the flank pieces, leaving the pan unwashed. Pour the lamb stock through a strainer into the same pan. Boil the stock down until it becomes a thick sauce. Take the opportunity to cook any vegetables you would like to serve with your lamb medallions in the stock as it is thickened. Examples include baby corn, baby carrots or peeled shallots.
- When the sauce has thickend, remove the vegetables and stir in one t of dijon mustard. Taste and add salt as required – only at the end.
- In the meanwhile, spoon the pesto mixture onto the lamb medallions. Its alright for the crust to be thick so use up all of the mixture you made.
- Oil a baking tray and preheat it. Arrange the medallions in the middle (you should hear a slight sizzle) and then the pre-cooked flank pieces around the edges (as per photo on the right). Cook in a preheated toaster oven (heat on top and bottom) for about 7 minutes, or until the pesto crust begins to bubble and harden.
- Spoon the sauce onto the serving plate first, followed by the lamb and finally the vegetables.
- You have a couple of options regarding the bones. The lamb reduction sauce is very good as it contains all the tastes you normally associate with lamb but can’t apply because of the pesto crust: mint, garlic, rosemary, mustard etc. If you really can’t bother with the sauce, just throw the bones away and use the drippings from the medallions as ‘jus’. Alternatively, you can boil the stock as per above but serve it (still strained) as a mutton broth to go with the medallions.
- I used a toaster oven because it gives just the right heat to form the crust without overcooking the lamb. If you are making portions for more than 2, you can just use the grill in your oven.
- The microwaving helps melt the remaining fat and connective tissue. If you don’t own a microwave, then you’ll just have to simmer the lamb bones old style for a long time, until the gelatine is released.
- FYI. I grilled the tomatoes with cheese topping seperately. Those were not cooked in the sauce pan with the baby corn.