What do you like about springtime most? In addition to the longer days and the end of the rainy season, I look forward to the fresh fruits and vegetables in the markets and the most amazing lamb of the year. When lamb starts showing up on local menus I know that the warm weather is right around the corner and Valentine’s Day is near.
Lamb benefits from quick cooking over high heat, searing the outside and retaining its tenderness. In today’s recipe, the meat is served with red wine-glazed vegetables, which adds an incredible depth to their flavor and creates a delectable sauce that enhances the lamb. You can change out the vegetables to use what is in season and your family favorites.
You can use this same technique with virtually any pan-seared meat to create a show-stopping sauce that elevates anything you serve it on. Pan sauces make all the difference for ordinary ingredients. Keep the technique in mind the next time you sauté a chicken breast or pork chop – just change out the type of wine to complement the primary ingredients.
Another benefit of this menu is that it is ready in minutes and you can get an elegant meal on the table for Valentine’s Day with very little fuss even after working a full day! You can serve it with the lemon-scented green beans I featured on Wednesday or fresh asparagus and perhaps some steamed fingerling potatoes. If you do some of the prep in advance, everything will come together very quickly and you can spend more time sipping wine with your sweetie.
If you buy locally, humanely raised meats you have a much higher chance of getting a quality product that is healthier for you. In the case of meats, buy grass-fed and organic whenever possible. You can also investigate the company’s philosophy on the Internet and even possibly arrange to visit their ranch. Getting to know your purveyors helps support local businesses and you can become a champion for those who follow the highest standards.
Remember that you deserve to treat yourself to this heavenly meal occasionally. This is one of my downfalls. I don’t do that enough for myself, and never have. I pull out all the stops when I have people coming over, but if it is just me, I tend to grab something quick to snack on and never get around to making a real dinner. Never forget that you are worthy of splurging and pampering!
Have a wonderful weekend and stay tuned for a terrific Chocolate Monday with a special Valentine’s Day dessert that will have you drooling on your computer, LOL!!
Happy Festive Friday!
Lamb Chops with Red Wine-Glazed Spring Vegetables
Whole Foods Market
Yield: 4 servings (2 chops per serving)
This elegant but easy main course works well with lamb loin or shoulder chops, so use whichever cut you prefer. Just keep in mind that shoulder chops are a bit larger, so you’ll likely need just one per portion.
4 carrots, cut into (1-inch) chunks
8 single lamb rib chops (about 1-3/4 lb)
1/2 tsp fine sea salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
3 shallots, finely chopped
1 large sprig thyme
1 cup low-sodium chicken broth
3/4 cup Château Robin Lussac-Saint Emilion, or other Bordeaux-style red wine
1 cup thawed frozen or fresh peas, shelled, or sugar peas
8 green onions, cut crosswise into (3-inch) pieces
2 tbsp unsalted cold butter, cut into small pieces
1 tsp sugar
2 cups baby spinach
Bring a medium pot of salted water to a boil, add carrots and cook until just tender, 3 to 4 minutes. Drain, rinse in cold water and drain again; set aside.
Meanwhile, season lamb chops all over with salt and pepper. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat, arrange four of the lamb chops in skillet and cook, flipping once, until deep golden brown and cooked to desired doneness, about 5 minutes; transfer to a large plate, tent with foil and set aside. Repeat process with remaining lamb chops.
Add shallots and thyme to skillet and cook until just softened, 2 to 3 minutes. Carefully add broth and cook, scraping up any browned bits, until reduced by three-quarters, about 5 minutes. Add wine and simmer vigorously until reduced by half, about 5 minutes more. Add peas, onions, carrots, butter and sugar and cook, tossing often, until tender and glazed, 3 to 4 minutes; discard thyme.
Remove skillet from heat, add spinach and toss gently to wilt. Spoon vegetables and sauce onto four large plates, top with lamb chops and serve.
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