This is about as fancy as I get, folks.
But, lord. Was it ever good. I called my mother five minutes after I finished eating, specifically to tell her that it was the best meal I’d ever cooked, if not one of the best meals I’d ever eaten. I don’t believe this is a great tribute or testament to my cooking skills, per se, but more to the lovely simplicity of the recipe and its various ingredients.
The Syrah was a wonderful accompaniment not just to the reduction itself (with the balsamic vinegar and shallots), but also tasted perfect alongside the lamb at dinner. And the spice rub was subtly magnificent, not overpowering in the least. Last but not least, the Swiss chard — which is shamefully underrated — added an ideal undercurrent of sweetness to the richness of the lamb and tangy bite of the reduction.
All of the elements in the meal seemed perfectly synchronized. Eating it was like watching an expertly-perfomed ballet. I can’t recommend this recipe highly enough. And to think that it was inspired by a recipe on Allrecipes.com…
My mother had purchased some beautiful lamb chops for a client, but ended up not needing them after all. So, the plump little delicacies were delivered to yours truly, who wouldn’t normally purchase lamb chops for $15 a pound. I ended up casually browing Allrecipes for a recipe that wouldn’t require me to purchase anything else outside of what I already had at home (I enjoy the challenge of cooking with what I have on hand, as I’m sure you all know by now).
What I found was a recipe for lamb chops in a balsamic reduction, served with potatoes au gratin. Richard prefers his reductions with only a hint of balsamic (…heathen) and I prefer serving healthier items than au gratin potatoes, so I bastardized the recipe into what follows. And for a bastard recipe, it ROCKS.
As a quick note, the Syrah I used was from the Chateau Ste Michelle vineyards in Washington state (of which I have very fond memories involving aggressive peacocks and drinking wine out of plastic cups), and it was absolutely divine. Just goes to show that a Syrah doesn’t have to be from California or cost $30 a bottle to be wonderful.
Lamb Chops in a Balsamic-Syrah Reduction with Swiss Chard and White Potatoes
- 3/4 tsp. dried rosemary
- 1/4 tsp. dried basil
- 1/2 tsp. dried thyme
- koshering salt and pepper (to taste)
- 4 lamb chops (3/4 inch thick)
- 2 Tbsp. olive oil
- 1/4 c. minced shallots
- 1/4 c. balsamic vinegar
- 1/4 c. Syrah (Cabernet or Port would also work)
- 3/4 c. vegetable (or beef) broth
- 1 large bunch Swiss chard
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1 lb. white or Fingerling potatoes
First, assemble your spices and combine the rosemary, basil and thyme in a small bowl. Add the koshering salt and pepper to taste. Pat the spice mixture onto the lamb chops, covering both sides well. Place the chops on a plate, cover with a paper towel and set aside for 15 minutes to let the chops absorb the flavors from the spices.
While your lamb chops are soaking up their spice treatment, prep the Swiss chard and potatoes. All that you need to do with the Swiss chard is to cut off the lovely red ends and tear the leaves into somewhat smaller pieces. Upon cooking, it will wilt quite heavily — like spinach, not like kale — so you don’t have to make them bite-sized. Put the leaves into a pot and add a small amount of water for steaming. You’ll want to start steaming the Swiss chard as soon as you put your lamb chops into the pan, since it takes longer to steam than spinach does.
As for your potatoes, you can either roast them (…yum!) or boil them. I boiled them only because Richard adores boiled potates (seriously…you can take the man out of England, but you can’t take the love of English cuisine out of the man). However, I would recommend roasting them in all other circumstances. Either way, get your taters to boiling (or roasting) while your lamb chops are finishing up their spice bath.
When all of that is finished, heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. When the pan is hot, add your olive oil. This will help prevent any sticking, which is definitely crucial when dealing with delicate meat and reductions. When the oil is hot, place your lamb chops in the skillet and cook for about three minutes per side for medium-rare. If you insist on having your lamb any more done than medium-rare, well…I guess that’s your perogative, but it sure won’t taste as good. Remove the chops from the skillet, and keep warm on a serving platter.
Add the minced shallots to the skillet, and cook for one or two minutes, just until browned. Stir in the balsamic vinegar and Syrah, scraping any bits of lamb from the bottom of the skillet, then stir in the vegetable broth. Continue to cook and stir over medium-high heat for about 5 minutes, until the sauce has reduced by half. You may feel inclined to add a knob of butter at this time; I say, go ahead.
The Swiss chard and potatoes should be done by this point. Plate the lamb chops on top of the steamed and drained Swiss chard and pour the balsamic-Syrah reduction on top. Serve alongside your roasted (or boiled) potatoes and enjoy!