Spring has arrived! It is such a glorious feeling! Finally, it is warm enough to stroll through farmers' market engaging in meaningful conversations and finding out the back stories of the produce on sale! I have been many such trips and coming back with simple, fresh and ridiculously tasty loot! I will put up a post this weekend with recipes for fresh vegetarian meals.
Spring is also the season for ewe lambs. Ok, I know it doesn't sound nice talking about eating a four month old animal but the reality is that it is the tenderest meat you will ever bite into this year. The beauty of any dish is in the ingredients. Spring lambs are so succulent and flavorful that you don't need much cooking to enjoy them. A quick saute and it will be perhaps one of the best dishes you may have had in and out of a restaurant!
I share with you today a very simple and flavorful dish of lamb chops served on a bed of polenta and braised swiss chard. I actually served this dish with white wine rather than a full bodied red typically paired with red meat. Simply because, the meat itself is delicate and does not need a robust wine to accompany. It is beautifully paired by a crisp, light white like a Chablis.
Lamb Chops with Polenta and Braised Swiss Chard
Start with the polenta, them the chard and finally the chops. Cook the chops last, just before serving!
For the Lamb Chops:
6 baby lamb rib chops
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 T rosemary, minced
1/2 tsp maldon salt or fleur de sel (Use the finest salt you have and use it sparingly. It only takes a little of the good stuff to bring flavor to the meat)
1/2- to 1 tsp fresh cracked pepper based on your taste
1 T good, fruity olive oil
Mix the marinade ingredients and set aside for 10 minutes to allow the flavors to meld together. Meanwhile wash and pat dry the chops. Rub the marinade on both sides of the chops and let rest for 30 minutes up to over night.
When ready to cook, heat a heavy bottomed pan with a light drizzle of olive oil over medium-high flame. I always use cast iron or steel and never non-stick; the sear isn't good and it tastes funny! Arrange the chops in one layer and let them cook undisturbed for two minutes. Gently lift the first chop you placed in the pan to check the sear. If it is good enough turn all the chops over. If not, leave them cook on the side for another minute. Cook on the other side for 3-4 minutes depending on the thickness of the chop for a medium-rare-ish finish.
Cook the polenta according to instructions using milk as the liquid.
For the Braised Swiss Chard:
1 bunch swiss chard, washed, drained and chopped
1/2 cup homemade tomato sauce
2 cloves garlic, smashed
olive oil for the pan
Heat the oil and saute the garlic until the oil is perfumed. Add the sauce and bring to a gentle boil. Add the chard, cover the pan and cook until the leaves are just wilted. Remove from heat.
Place some polenta on the plate/bowl. Ladle over it the braised greens and top with the seared chops. Sprinkle fresh grated parmesan if desired!