I Wasn't a Fan of Lamb Chops Until I Made These Lamb Chops
Rubbed with capers, anchovies, and garlic and paired with a salsa verde, reverse-seared double-cut lamb chops make for a low-lift weeknight meal that still feels fancy.
Since the pandemic started, I haven't eaten a lot of meat. Partly that's because of environmental concerns, partly it's because of laziness, and partly it's because during the course of the past year I started living with a vegetarian, and so any meat-based meal would have to be for me alone. I still do it on occasion, but it's something like cooking up three strips of bacon when I cannot handle life another day without spaghetti carbonara. Of all the little meat treats I had, lamb chops weren't high on my list. They've always felt a little bit too fussy for a casual meal—if I have lamb, it's usually a stew say, or ground lamb for an Indonesian martabak. But then I tried our senior Food Editor Mary-Frances Heck's fantastic Double-Cut Lamb Chops, the cover star of the April issue, and, in the golden days of the future when friends can gather at the table, I expect to serve them frequently.
If you aren't familiar with a double-cut lamb chop, it's just sort of what it sounds like—you purchase a rack of lamb and rather than separating the chops, each with a single bone, you cut them into double-wide, two-chop servings. Then each double-chop gets a slathering of a rub made from garlic, capers, anchovies, just a little bit of red-pepper flake, and olive oil.
Here's where the brilliance of the method sets in. The natural gamey sweetness of lamb is balanced by the briney-umami of the rub. Then you pull a little number on the chops known as a reverse sear. Rather than getting the golden-brown crust on the chops first and then cooking them to temperature, you do the opposite. The chops go into the oven until they're not quite rare. You then pull them out of the oven and allow them to rest—they'll keep cooking for a while thanks to carryover heat, and then the internal temperature should drop as they cool. After that happens, the chops go under the broiler to get that golden brown crust on the outside. By the time you pull them out from under the broiler two or three minutes later, depending on your oven, the chops should be a perfect rare with a golden exterior. Once they've rested, you can cut through the double chop to serve them, meaning each chop will have one side that's golden-brown from the sear, and one side that's gorgeous exposed rare meat.
You could stop there, but I personally wouldn't. Heck's accompaniment for these is a brilliant, easy salsa verde. Lemon, olive oil, capers, a bit more red pepper, black pepper, salt, and a half cup of tender herbs—I used mint and chives, but you could also use parsley or cilantro or whatever else you have. It makes for an incredibly tasty sauce to drizzle over the chops, or honestly, anything else. I used the extra as a salad dressing the next day. My vegetarian partner spooned it over orzo and mushrooms with delight. I was impressed by how unfussy and unfinicky lamb chops can be. Once you chop, you see, you just won't want to stop.