Like many Americans, I didn’t grow up eating lamb. I was well into my 20s before I realized what I was missing, and now I seem to be making up for lost time! I like all cuts of lamb, but my favorite — which also happens to involve the easiest cooking method — is simple roasted (or grilled) chops, which are also sometimes referred to as rib racks (see photo).
I once had the pleasure of eating lamb in southern France that had been pasture-fed on quite a bit of lavender; the meat was actually infused with the subtle scent of lavender, and I have never forgotten it. But since it’s awfully difficult to find lamb that have lived on such a delicacy, I searched for a way to introduce the same aromas into my lamb chops. The quickest, easiest, and best way? Simply sprinkle it with lavender salt. It is sublime. (You can make lavender salt by combining about a teaspoon of lavender buds with about two tablespoons of coarse sea salt in a spice grinder or electric coffee grinder).
I find that cooking one side in a hot cast iron pan, flipping it, and finishing it off in a very hot oven produces fantastic results. Preheat the oven to 500 degrees F. Rinse and dry the lamb chops thoroughly, rub with olive oil, then sprinkle them liberally with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper. Melt a combination of butter and olive oil in the pan, swirl it around, and add the lamb. Cook for about five minutes until well-browned. Flip it over and transfer to the oven. Roast for about five minutes for medium rare (the only way to eat lamb chops, in my opinion). Don’t overcook it!
Let it rest on a cutting board for at least five minutes, and slice into individual chops. Squeeze some lemon on the chops and give them a liberal dusting of lavender salt, pepper, and lemon zest.
Photo credit: Annabelle Breakey