Lamb is such a beautiful meat – delicately flavored yet robust enough to stand up to strong seasoning. Lamb is a mainstay in cuisines across the world. Yet funnily enough, lamb is not abundant in New England and from what I understand, the US as a whole follows suit. I have done a fair bit of googling on the subject and it frankly, baffles me!
It seems that America doesn’t like lamb for many reasons. It is a stronger flavored meat than beef or pork which could be a contributing factor for sure. A fear of fat in the later part of the 20th century seems to have had a significant role to play as lamb can be a fattier meat. From discussions with friends, people seem to associate lamb with cute nursery rhymes and abhor the thoughts of eating it as a result. Whatever the reason, in general, lamb is just not much of a thing here.
I have always loved lamb, although since butchering a lamb at Ballymaloe, I have a new found respect for the cheaper cuts. In an area like New England, where native food has seen a resurgence in recent years, lamb is making a comeback. Luckily for me, our meat supplier has a relationship with a lamb farmer and now I receive various cuts of lamb on a regular basis. As with much of our meat box, they tend to be lesser known cuts that many people might shy away from. Imagine my delight at lamb necks, shanks and shoulder chops! This recipe uses shoulder chops, although leg steaks would work just as well.
Spiced lamb Chops with Quick Salsa Verde
This may seem like a lot of ingredients but its really very straightforward. I like to make the spice blend in advance and marinate the lamb for a few hours. You can also make the salsa verde ahead of time and it keeps for weeks in the fridge.
Adapted from The Brother Hubbard Cookbook by Garrett Fitzgerald (another Ballymaloe Grad!)
- 4 small or 2 large lamb cutlets
- 2 Red onions, cut into wedges
- Salt and pepepr
- 1 tbsp green cardamom seeds (remove seeds from the pods)
- 1 tsp cumin seeds, lightly toasted
- 1/2 tbsp coriander seeds, lightly toasted
- 1 tsp black peppercorns (for a milder taste, you can use pink)
- 2-3 cloves
- Pinch allspice
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 300g baby potatoes
- 1 tbsp chopped rosemary
- Olive oil
For the Salsa Verde:
- 20g fresh parsley
- 20g fresh mint
- 1 large garlic clove
- Zest and juice of 1 lemon
- 1/2 tbsp white wine vinegar
- 1-2 anchovies (optional but I love the flavor)
- 1/2 tbsp capers, drained (again optional!)
- 30-50ml Olive oil
- First make the spice blend: Place the cardamom, coriander, cumin, peppercorns and cloves in a pestle and mortar and grind until you have a fine powder. Add the cinnamon and allspice and mix well.
- Trim the lamb of excess fat and rub with a small amount of olive oil to allow the spices to stick.
- Place the spice mix onto a plate and put the lamb on top to coat. Toss the lamb around the spices to ensure it is well coated. Cover and marinate the spiced lamb in the fridge for a few hours.
- To make the salsa verde, place all the sauce ingredients along into a food processor and blitz until you have a smooth paste. If you like a runnier sauce, blend in some extra olive oil. You can also make this sauce is a pestle and mortar if you wish.
- To bring the dish together: Remove the lamb from the Preheat your oven to 180C/350F. If any of the baby potatoes are very larger, cut them in half. Toss them in some olive oil and add the rosemary, salt and pepper. Place on a baking sheet and roast in the oven for 20-30 mins until crispy.
- Heat a griddle pan over a high heat. Place 2 lamb cutlets at a time on the grill and cook for 2-3 mins until well seared. Season well while cooking. Turn and repeat for another 2 mins. Place the onion wedges around the lamb to get nicely charred.
- Transfer the cutlets to the oven and bake for 3-5 mins, depending on the thickness of the meat and how well you like it cooked. Remove and rest for 5 minutes.
- When ready to serve, place potatoes onto a warm plate and scatter onion wedges around the plate
- Top with the spiced lamb cutlets, drizzling the salsa verde over the top and serve with some green vegetables.